In only one year, approximately 169,000 children under age 14 were injured in car accidents across the country, reports the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some of these injuries were quite serious. Others were very minor. And sometimes, injuries that seemed minor actually turned out to be something far more dangerous.

The good news is that most children heal quickly from broken bones and sprains. The bad news is that some fractures - those involving the sensitive growth plates at the end of a child's bones - can lead to lifelong deformities if not properly diagnosed and treated.

Which Children Are At Risk?

The nationally respected Mayo Clinic explains that growth plate fractures can occur from any type of trauma to leg bones, finger bones, arm bones and other bones that lengthen as a child grows. The ends of such bones are soft and easily damaged, so nearly any child injured in an auto accident is at risk of a growth plate fracture.

Such fractures may also occur as a result of falls from playground equipment, collisions while playing sports and other incidents. All in all, boys tend to suffer more growth plate fractures than girls.

Four Common Symptoms To Watch For

Here are some of the most frequent warning signs:

  1. Pain that doesn't go away in a child's arm, leg or finger
  2. Difficulty putting weight on a limb or joint
  3. Warmth or swelling near an elbow, knee or other joint
  4. Clear deformity or crookedness in a leg or arm

Diagnosing Such Injuries And Seeking Compensation

Because a bone with a damaged growth plate may end up permanently crooked or shorter than normal, it's critical to get prompt treatment. Your child's pediatrician may need to take X-rays over a several-year span to determine if the car accident caused a growth plate injury.

Because it can take time for medical professionals to determine whether a growth plate injury occurred or not, it's wise to avoid accepting an immediate settlement offer from the insurance company. Talk to a personal injury attorney first. If you accept a settlement without consulting an attorney, you may miss out on the full amount of money your child will need for future medical care.

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