On this page, our lawyers look at the average settlement compensation for broken ribs in personal injury cases.
Estimating a settlement amount for a personal injury claim is often a challenge. Fractured rib cases (and fractured sternum cases) are a particular challenge for lawyers (and insurance adjusters) seeking to calculate a settlement compensation payout.
Insurance companies notoriously undervalue rib injury cases. This means you are often in for a fight if you want the full compensation for all of the harm that has been done to you.
Our lawyers disagree with the insurance company not just on the settlement value of fractured ribs but the very definition of what is a fractured rib. A classic dictionary definition is a fracture is a crack or break (which is why we used the terms interchangeably) in the rib cage.
But it is also fair to call it a fractured rib when there is a break in the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone. There may be technically no broken bone. But it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and hurts the same as a fractured rib.
Our attorneys handle different types of personal injury tort claims. Almost all the broken ribs as the primary injury cases are motor vehicle collisions involving the occupants of a vehicle in the crash. If you are, for example, in a pedestrian accident, your rib injury is likely to be the least of your worries.
On This Page:
Rib Fracture Risk Factors
These conditions can put you at risk for a rib fracture:
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and brittle, increasing the likelihood of rib fractures.
- Contact sport participation: Participating in a contact sport, especially football and hockey, increases the risk of fracturing your ribs.
- Cancerous lesions: Cancerous lesions around your ribcage may weaken it, putting you at risk for rib fractures.
Rib Fracture Complications
Rib fractures can cause severe complications. They include:
- Traumatic aortic injuries: If your fractures took place on the top of your ribcage, you might sustain a traumatic aortic injury. These types of injuries include aortic punctures, tears, or bruises.
- Punctured lung: A fractured middle rib may puncture a lung. This can lead to a collapsed lung, also known as a pneumothorax.
- Kidney, liver, or spleen lacerations: The bottom two ribs rarely fracture because they are more flexible than the upper and middle ribs. However, when they do, they can damage the kidney, liver, or spleen.
The pain with a fractured rib or fractured sternum can be awful. You cannot live a normal life while recovering. Our clients have described this pain in a host of different ways. They are all agonizing. The best metaphor is someone putting out a cigarette with a stiletto shoe on your chest (which is a line we stole from one of our clients). Virtually EVERYTHING is painful: coughing, laughing, lifting, twisting, bending, and even breathing.
Fractures rib cases are a different breed of car accident injury because although they can be unbelievably painful, they require little and sometimes no medical treatment in the healing process. Rest and ice are free. But fractured ribs are really about allowing time to heal.
Insurance companies are caught in a fictional world where medical bills are the real indication of pain and suffering. They discount human pain anyway. But particularly when there is no medical treatment to go with it.
Let's compare two nearly identical cases:
- Whiplash neck and back injuries with $6,000 in medical bills
- Whiplash neck and back injuries with two fractured ribs and $6,000 in medical bills.
Our accident attorneys cannot tell you how much compensation for the second case. There are too many variables at play.
But let us say that those values add up to a settlement compensation payout of $15,000. That same case with the two rib fractures could be worth $40,000.
Look, do not get caught up in these specific numbers in this example. That case could have a value of $20,000 or a value of $100,000. There are too many factors to try to pin down the exact settlement amount for two broken ribs based on such limited facts.
But you get the idea. Fractured ribs can add a good deal to the value of a claim. If your accident lawyer does not fully appreciate the appropriate compensation for the case, that attorney might not reach in the demand letter and in settlement negotiations like she should.
But the insurance companies rarely see these injuries the same way which makes settling these cases before filing a lawsuit more of a challenge.
Valuing broken ribs in a car accident lawsuit is difficult because it is an injury that involves a lot of pain but not much medical treatment. The typical settlement value of broken ribs in an auto accident lawsuit can be anywhere between $15,000 to $100,000 depending on various circumstances (assuming cracked ribs are the primary injury).
For starters, the more broken ribs the higher the case value will be. Five broken ribs are going to be worth more than 1 broken rib. Beyond this, the main factors which impact the settlement value of broken rib injuries in a lawsuit are the extent of medical treatment and case venue. By themselves, broken ribs have a more limited settlement value because they don’t require much medical treatment.
But if broken ribs are combined with another injury that does require extensive treatment, they can add a lot of value to a case. Also, in Maryland, the jurisdiction makes a big impact on the compensation value of rib injuries. Cases in Baltimore City and Prince George's County are going to have the highest value.
Broken sternum cases also have higher settlement payouts on averages. A broken sternum is a break of the breastbone which is the long, flat bone in your chest that is the nucleus of the ribs. It has the critical job of protecting vital organs and blood vessels. If you fracture your sternum in a car crash, you likely were in a serious accident.Fractured Rib Settlements and Verdicts
Our lawyers want to help victims better understand the range of value of their cases. This is why our law firm has been a leader in getting up average verdict statistics and sample settlements and verdicts in different types of injury cases. We qualify our information by telling victims not to read too much into a single verdict because a past result cannot predict a future outcome.
Why? There are just way too many variables of differing weights that go into a jury's verdict. This is an art, not a science. But this speech should be amplified even more with fractured ribs because most of the cases have other injuries and it is hard to parse out what part of the case was for the fractured ribs. So while these will better help you understand the value of personal injury claims, take them with a few grains tablespoons of salt.
You also want to remember how important the location of the crash is to the settlement value of rib, sternum, or any personal injury case in Maryland. Cases in Baltimore City and Prince George's County are going to have the highest value followed by Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel County, and Charles County. Behind those are Frederick County, Washington County and, in dead last in this group, Howard County.
Does this mean that you cannot get a good verdict or settlement in Maryland counties that are tougher on victims? Of course not. A good case is a good case anywhere.
- October 2019, Maryland $475,000 Verdict: A 70-year-old man was rear-ended in a three-way collision on Route 136. He suffered five rib fractures, a clavicle fracture, a facial laceration, a C5 fracture, and a lung puncture. A Harford County jury awarded $475,000.
- August 2019, Maryland $309,276 Verdict: A dump truck rear-ended a 42-year-old man. He suffered rib and sternum fractures which required extensive surgical repair. His experts testified that his injuries were permanent and left him unable to work. He sued both the driver (negligence) and the truck company (vicarious liability). The Montgomery County jury awarded $309,276.
- November 2017, Maryland $1,600,000 Verdict: The defendant made a left turn in front of the plaintiff in Prince George's County. In addition to fractured ribs, the plaintiff suffered a broken leg and broken knee, and two rib fractures. The jury awarded $1,584,296.
- August 2017, Maryland $30,000 Settlement: A 58-year-old woman was broadsided and suffered multiple rib fractures. The woman alleged that the other driver's negligence caused her injuries. She claimed the other driver negligently ran a red light. This case settled for $30,000.
- July 2016, Maryland $80,000. This is a case where rib fractures were the primary injury for a 71-year-old plaintiff in Baltimore County. The breakdown in the verdict was $46,258 for pain and suffering, $21,865 in medical bills, and $11,877 in lost wages.
- March 2016, Maryland $80,000 Verdict: A 70-year-old man was broadsided at an intersection. He suffered a dozen rib fractures, a spleen laceration, lung and heart contusions, head injuries, unspecified soft-tissue injuries, and prostate issues. Because of his injuries, the man now worked fewer hours. A Baltimore County jury awarded $80,000.
- April 2014, Maryland: $412,737.77 Verdict: A 30-year-old bartender was riding as a passenger in a vehicle traveling northbound on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie. Her driver attempted to make a left turn across the southbound lanes of traffic. They were struck by a southbound traveling vehicle. She was transported to a local emergency room. The ER doctors diagnosed three fractured ribs. She also had body bruising and neck and back injuries. She sued her driver for negligence in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. The defendant did not dispute Plaintiff’s rib injuries. Instead, the insurance company claimed the treatment plaintiff received for her neck and back injuries were excessive and unnecessary. An Anne Arundel County jury returned a $412,737.77 verdict for the plaintiff.
- July 2013, Maryland: $79,831 Verdict: This is another "primarily broken ribs" injury case with a similar result as the one above. A 30-year-old forklift operator was struck by a large pick-up truck while walking on the shoulder of Ft. Smallwood Road in Pasadena late one evening. She was rushed by ambulance from the scene where she was admitted to Shock Trauma for two days. She was treated for seven fractured ribs, lacerations to her spleen and liver, and soft tissue injuries. She sued the driver for negligence. Defendant contended Plaintiff was contributorily negligent. The defense was she was walking in the middle of the road. Plaintiff argued she was legally walking with traffic. An Anne Arundel County jury rendered a $79,831 verdict for the plaintiff.
- May 2011, Maryland: $30,493 Verdict: A man was riding his bicycle during his lunch break in Howard County. While riding in the right lane, a woman attempted to back into the roadway from her driveway and struck the bicyclist. He was hospitalized for two days and treated for three fractured ribs, a fractured collarbone, and a fractured pelvis. He sued the driver for negligence claiming she failed to properly observe the roadway before backing out. Defendant claimed she was pulling into the driveway and Plaintiff attempted to pass her and collided with her. A Howard County Circuit Court jury found the defendant negligent and awarded the Plaintiff $30,493. Again, Howard County juries can be tough on plaintiffs. This case is good evidence of this proposition.
- September 2010, Maryland: $415,000 Verdict: A woman was driving southbound on Muddy Creek Road in Edgewater when she was struck head-on by a vehicle that crossed the center line. She suffered multiple fractured ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a dislocated hip, and collapsed lungs. Her injuries were so severe she was given her last rites following the accident. Miraculously, after multiple orthopedic surgeries, she recovered. She sued the driver for negligence, claiming the defendant failed to maintain the proper lane of travel. The defendant did not deny liability but disputed the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. An Anne Arundel County jury returned a $415,000 verdict for the Plaintiff.
- February 2010, Maryland: $50,000 Settlement: A 50-year-old bicyclist was stopped at the intersection of Eye Street, N.W. and 12 Street, N.W. in the District of Columbia. When the light turned green he attempted to pedal straight through the intersection but was struck by a dump truck attempting to make a right turn directly into his travel lane. The bicyclist was dragged an entire city block before construction workers alerted the driver of the situation. The man was hospitalized for over two weeks for multiple rib fractures, a torn MCL, and a fractured acetabulum. He sued the driver and his employer for negligence. Plaintiff claimed the accident was caused by Defendant Driver negligently turning into his path. Defendants denied liability. They claimed Plaintiff was in the truck’s blind spot. The parties agreed to settle before trial for $500,000.
- 2021, New York: $250,000 Settlement. A minor pedestrian was struck at a crosswalk. He fractured his left rib, lumbar disc, and skull. The boy also suffered an epidural hematoma, a collapsed left lung, along with many other serious injuries. (This is the problem we discuss above using prior cases to determine settlement compensation amounts: rib injuries are often just one of many injuries.) So the boy's parents hired a pedestrian accident lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the driver. The suit claimed he failed to yield to a pedestrian and unsafely sped. This case settled for $250,000.
- 2020, Washington: $700,000 Settlement. A 51-year-old passenger was T-boned. She suffered a rib fracture and a neck injury. Her lawsuit claimed she ran a red light and made a negligent turn. This case settled for $700,000.
- 2019, Oregon: $1,100,000 Verdict. 66-year-old motorcyclist collides with the defendant head-on and suffers major injuries. In addition to his multiple rib fractures, he suffered a broken leg (tibia and fibula). The jury awarded $1,158,750 in damages, including $658,750 in medical expenses and $500,000 in non-economic damages.
- 2016, Idaho: $95,000 Settlement. A 75-year-old pedestrian is struck by the defendant's vehicle while the defendant is reversing his vehicle into a service bay. As a result of the impact, the man suffers fractured ribs, a lung injury, and a hand laceration.
- 2016, Michigan: $37,500 Settlement. Plaintiff is a passenger in a vehicle and suffers three broken ribs as well some other minor injuries including a closed head injury. (Does the compensation seek very low? It does.)
- 2015, Texas: $50,000 Settlement. A minor boy is traveling in a vehicle operated by the defendant when it was in a collision that allegedly was the defendant's fault. The boy suffers multiple rib fractures and injuries to his back. The boy's mother hired a lawyer who filed a lawsuit. Before the case went to court, the parties settled for $50,000.
- 2015, Ohio: $44,491 Verdict. A man is hit in the front of his car by the defendant, who suddenly reversed her vehicle. As a result, the man suffers from three rib fractures. The defendant claims he had to suddenly stop due to another vehicle's action, but a jury found for the plaintiff and awarded him $44,491.60.
We battle hard - very hard - to get our clients compensated for all of their injuries on our terms, not the insurance company's terms. Our law practice is primarily focused in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Call us today to discuss your case at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.