Cervical fractures are serious accident injuries. The vertebrae (bones) in the neck can fracture or break during a slip and fall accident, car crash, workplace accident, or other personal injuries. In severe cases, a fractured cervical vertebrae can result in a spinal cord injury. 

What is a Hangman’s Fracture?

A hangman’s fracture is a term used to refer to a bilateral fracture of the C2 vertebrae. The hangman’s fracture is the second most common type of fracture of the C2 vertebrae and occurs along the pars interarticularis of the vertebrae. 

This specific fracture is called a hangman’s fracture because judicial hangings commonly caused this kind of cervical fracture. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Hangman’s Fracture?

The most common sign of a bilateral fracture of the C2 vertebrae is neck pain. However, there could be other symptoms depending on the injury severity and whether the injury also resulted in spinal cord damage. 

Victims with hangman’s fractures might experience: 

  • Neck pain
  • Inability to speak
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Trouble breathing without medical assistance
  • Partial or complete paralysis of the arms and legs
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence

If the spinal cord is damaged, the person could experience tingling, weakness, numbness, and paralysis in the extremities. The bones in the neck could shift, causing damage to the spinal column. 

Immediate medical attention is required to reduce the risk of spinal cord injury after a hangman’s fracture. In extreme cases, wrongful death might occur because of spinal cord injuries

What Are the Common Causes of Hangman’s Fractures?

Blunt force trauma to the back of the neck could cause a fracture of the cervical vertebrae. However, the most common cause of hangman’s fractures is hyperextension of the neck. An accident causes the head to jerk violently up and then back, resulting in a break in the C2 vertebrae. 

Common causes of hangman’s fractures include:

If you experience neck pain or other symptoms of a cervical fracture after an accident, prompt medical treatment can reduce the risk of further damage to the neck bones or spinal cord.

How Do Doctors Diagnose and Treat C2 Fractures?

In most cases, doctors order imaging tests to identify fractures in the neck bones. A hangman’s fracture could be diagnosed by taking x-rays of the neck or performing an MRI or CT scan. 

A doctor may use a neck brace to immobilize and stabilize the area until the fracture heals. In severe cases, surgery might be required to repair the damage. A surgeon uses pins, screws, plates, and wires to stabilize the vertebrae. 

The goal with any hangman’s fracture is to prevent spinal cord injuries until the fracture heals. The cost of treatment can be expensive, especially if the person requires surgery and extensive therapy to repair the damage and heal from the injury.

What Damages Can I Recover After a Hangman’s Fracture?

If another party causes a fracture to your C2 vertebrae, you could be entitled to compensation for damages. 

Examples of the types of damages recoverable for a hangman’s fracture include, but are not limited to:

  • The cost of diagnosing the injury, including imaging and other diagnostic tests
  • The cost of treating the injury, including medical equipment, surgery, and physical therapy
  • The cost of personal care, which includes 24/7 nursing home care for someone who is paralyzed
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent disabilities and impairments
  • The loss of income and benefits because the person cannot work
  • Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Decrease in earning potential because of permanent impairments 

The value of economic damages and non-economic damages depends on the facts of your case. Generally, the value of a personal injury claim increases with the severity of the injury.

Also, allegations of comparative negligence could impact the value of your claim. If you are partially to blame for the accident, your damages can be reduced by your percentage of fault. Furthermore, if you fail to mitigate your damages, you might not receive as much money for your injury claim. 

If you are injured in an accident, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Track your financial losses and expenses and document your pain and suffering. You must prove the other party caused your injury and have evidence of your damages before you can receive money for a hangman’s fracture claim.