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Failure to Timely Treat a Broken Bone

A frequent happening in Jails and Prisons is guards and medical staff fail to timely treat a broken bone or fracture. 

Deliberate indifference is the standard under the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies to pretrial detainees or the Eighth Amendment, which applies to folks who are serving a sentence in prison or jail. In order to be successful in a deliberate indifference claim, you the inmate or detainee has to show two things: (1) a serious medical need; and (2) a subject intent to do nothing. Some courts explain the subjective intent as acknowledging the problem, understanding the risk and showing a conscious disregard to that risk.

A Delay of Hours to Days is Enough for a Deliberate Indifference Claim 

All Federal Appellate Courts have found that a broken bone - a fracture - is a serious medical need. So, the issue becomes whether the guard or healthcare provider, consciously disregarded the condition and the risk. 

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals said that 6 hours for a broken foot is enough to allege a constitutional violation. Specifically, the court said: 

A deliberate delay on the order of hours in providing care for a serious and painful broken foot is sufficient to state a constitutional claim.

Likewise, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which looks at cases that involves Indiana has said that a broken hand is a serious medical need but a two hour delay in getting the patient x-rayed and casted is not deliberate indifference.  Trial Courts in the Seventh Circuit have made statements like any reasonable officer should know that a broken bone needs to be casted. Others courts have said this: 

  • A two day delay in treating a dislocated finger can rise to deliberate indifference. 
  • A delay in access to medical care can be deliberate indifference. 
  • Failing to time treat a broken collar bone can be deliberate indifference. 

If you have any questions about bringing a deliberate indifference claim for failing to timely treat a broken bone, call Guy DiMartino Law immediately.