This article talks about ankle injuries from slip, trip and falls in Florida and on cruises. I wrote a separate article on ankle injury claims in car, truck and motorcycle accidents in Florida.
I do not talk about foot injury claims here.
1. Damages you can get if a Florida business establishment or cruise line’s carelessness caused your slip, trip and fall or other accident?
In Florida, the injured person may be able to recover money for economic damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, etc.) and non-economic damages (e.g. pain, suffering, mental pain and anguish, inconvenience, etc.).
2. Do not use a settlement calculator or multiplier to calculate your case value.
If you have a serious injury, I strongly suggest that you do not value your case based on an online settlement calculator.
This is true whether you are using my Florida injury settlement calculator or one that someone else made.
3. No Guarantee that you Will Get Paid a Penny.
There is no guarantee that you will get a penny for your case because there are so many variables that affect the value of a case.
I represented a man who had an ankle tear from a trip and fall in a hole in the grass.
The insurer for the property management company and the insurer for the landscaper both denied liability.
I sued the landscaper, the property management company and the owner of the property. I settled for $64,900. All the settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses.
Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result. However, there is a chance that we could have received nothing at trial.
4. What is the Full Value of the Pain and Suffering Component of an Ankle Fracture in a Florida case?
This article focuses on the pain and suffering component of the claim. If someone’s negligence causes someone else to break an ankle, the value that I use as a starting point for settlement purposes for the pain and suffering component of a simple ankle fracture is approximately $10,000 to $30,000.
The low end ($25,000) of the range is for an ankle fracture that heals within a few weeks with a little bit of physical therapy (PT), and if you have little to no permanent impairment (injury) or limitations.
The higher end of the range ($50,000) is for a longer period of treatment (about one year or longer), more serious future limitations on the use of your ankle, continuous serious pain, or a longer treatment period.
My Broken Ankle Settlements
My actual case: $25,000 Settlement for a broken ankle after a slip and fall due to alleged water on the floor. She also slipped seconds before the fall that resulted in her ankle fracture. My client was at least 50% at fault for not looking where she was walking.
Other Attorney’s Broken Ankle Cases
$60,000 verdict for pain and suffering for a shopper who fractured her ankle when she claimed that she slipped on a worn out and wet carpet at Target in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
She argued that Target should have fixed the carpet before her fall. She claimed the carpet was a hazard.
Target blamed her for not paying attention where she was walking. Her husband made a claim for loss of consortium, but the jury did not award him money. The verdict was in 2010 and the case is Hernandez v. Target.
My thoughts: Though I am not 100% certain, I think the entire verdict was for pain and suffering.
If so, this verdict is within the range that I use as a starting point for settlement purposes for pain and suffering for an ankle fracture from an accident in Florida caused by someone else.
Many juries give little, if anything, money for a loss of consortium claim if the spouse’s injury is not horrible. This is one of many personal injury verdicts for an accident at Target.
Actual Case (not mine): $2,000 for pain and suffering only for a 71 year-old woman who fractured her ankle when she fell down in a Publix parking lot in Palm Beach County, Florida.
She was self-employed in a secretarial business. She claimed that she stepped in a hole (divet) at the corner of a storm drain in the parking lot and fell.
She claimed that Publix was negligent in failing to repair the drain. She was also awarded about $5,000 for economic damages. The jury found her 50% at fault for the accident. The verdict was in 2003.
My thoughts: The amount awarded for pain and suffering is way below the average settlement value for a broken ankle in an accident in Florida caused by someone else.
The amount that was awarded for pain and suffering will be cut in half (she’ll get $1,000) because she was 50% at fault for probably not paying attention.
This is one of the many verdicts and settlements against Publix in Florida. The case is Lorraine v. Publix Supermarkets.
Learn more about Florida parking lot accident claims.
5. What is the Full Value of the Pain and Suffering Component of an Ankle Ligament or Tendon Tear in a Florida case?
If someone’s negligence, in an accident in Florida or on cruise, causes you to tear a tendon or ligament in your ankle, I use $25,000 to $50,000 as a starting point for settlement purposes for the pain and suffering component.
My Settlements for an Ankle Ligament Tear
My actual case: $64,900 Settlement for a man who had surgery to repair an unstable ankle ligament and peroneal tendon tear after he tripped and fell in a hole that was covered with grass overgrowth in a condominium complex.
$58,000 of the total settlement amount was for pain and suffering. The peroneal tendon can be seen in the image below.
My actual case: Man Hit By Stanley Steamer Vacuum Gets $25,000 for Ankle Tear. This occurred in Miami, Florida.
Surprisingly there are very few verdicts and settlements that I have seen for surgery from an ankle tear.
Actual Case (not mine): $45,000 Verdict for pain and suffering alone for acute and chronic synovitis (inflammation) to the ankle which resulted in arthroscopy (surgery) one year later. The verdict was in 2002 and the accident happened in 1999. The Plaintiff was asked to by a security guard to move a 300 pound gate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
While moving the gate, it landed on the Plaintiff’s foot and he fell to the ground. The Plaintiff was found 15% at fault. The Plaintiff was 48 years old. He waited 4 months to get medical treatment.
The pain and suffering award was broken down to: $30,000 for past pain and suffering, and $15,000 for future pain and suffering. The case was tried in Broward County. The case is Lloyd Scott vs. Broward Partnership for the Homeless.
My thoughts: This is a good result for the Plaintiff because the Plaintiff waited 4 months to get medical treatment following the incident. I know of a personal injury in Miami who will not take a case if a person waits more than 7 days to get medical treatment.
As you can imagine, the settlement value of your case generally decreases the longer you wait to get medical treatment.
The claims adjuster will argue that the accident or incident did not cause your ankle tear because if it did, you would have been in bad pain and gone to the doctor immediately or shortly after the accident.
Since the plaintiff was 48 years old at the time of the accident, he had a life expectancy of 31 more years. You can find someone’s life expectancy by going to this chart.
So he was awarded about $500 per year ($1.37 per day) per future pain and suffering. The plaintiff was awarded $10,000 per year for past pain and suffering. I arrived at this amount because it took 3 years for this case to get trial.
Actual Verdict (Not mine): $20,000 in pain and suffering for a tear of the peroneus longus muscle in a man’s right ankle. He claimed that he tripped and fell on an open water meter box. The lawsuit was against the City of Ormond Beach, located in Volusia County, Florida.
He did not sue for medical bills or lost wages. The jury found the city liable for the incident but found the man 10% fault. The verdict was reduced by 10% which means he could recover $18,000 for pain and suffering.
My thoughts: I said the man could recover $18,000 by using the following formula:
Recoverable Award = Total Verdict x (100% – % of comparative fault)
I use the word “recoverable” because, unlike some individuals who may not have insurance, the city has the money to pay this claim. In Florida, the current law states that a city does not have to pay more than $200,000 to an individual it injured in an accident.
Since the jury found the man 10% at fault, we substitute “x” with “10%” which is:
Recoverable Award = $20,000 x (100% – 10% comparative fault)
Recoverable Award = $20,000 x (.9)
Recoverable Award = $18,000
6. What is the Full Value of the Pain and Suffering Component of a Trimalleolar Ankle fracture?
“Tri” means three. Trimalleolar fracture means that all three malleoli of the ankle are broken. These are unstable injuries and they can be associated with a dislocation.
In cases where someone is injured in Florida or on a cruise ship, the starting point that I use for the pain and suffering portion of a trimalleolar fracture with surgery (where a plate(s) and screw(s) is inserted) is between $125,000 to $375,000 if there is a decent recovery and little, if any, resultant disability.
Actual Case (Not My Case): $1,600,000 Settlement for pain and suffering for a woman who had a trimalleolar fracture with a plate and 4 screws inserted (open reduction internal fixation). She had a separate surgery to remove the plate and screws. Her ankle was in a cast for 6 weeks and she used a wheelchair during that time.
She allegedly slipped and fell in a depression (hole) on a restaurant’s property. She claimed the depression was caused by vehicles driving through the area. The case is Armstrong v. Wendy’s. The settlement was in 2007.
As you can see from the above result, there have been verdicts in a Florida personal injury case that are above $1 Million dollars for a trimalleolar fracture with surgery. However, most settlements are generally not for this amount.
As in any personal injury case, if the injured person is likeable then he or she has a better chance of getting closer to the higher end of this range.
The more that one’s activities of daily living are limited, then the greater the chance that he or she may get a settlement toward the higher end of the above range. Therefore, someone who has difficulty walking (with a limp or otherwise) will generally have a greater pain and suffering component to his or her claim than someone who can walk much better.
Actual Case (Not mine): $70,000 verdict for pain and suffering was affirmed (approved) for a 55-year-old woman who slipped and fell at an apartment complex in Miami-Dade County, Florida. She was also awarded approximately $5,200 for medical expenses.
She fractured all three ankle bones, which is called a trimalleolar fracture.
She was hospitalized for ten days and was in a full leg cast for six weeks. As a result, she could not care for her disabled husband. The doctor gave her a 10% disability of the ankle, and she had continued pain, muscle atrophy, swelling, and a limp. Also, she was unable to walk long distances.
She was expected to live 24.3 years so she was awarded $3,000 per year for the rest of her life. This comes out to $7.00 to $8.00 a day.
The appellate court stated that it could not say that the verdict exceeded the limits of the reasonable. The jury awarded her husband $10,000 on his derivative claim. Malpass v. Highlands Ins. Co., 387 So.2d 1042 (Fla. App. 3 Dist., 1980)
My opinion: In 1980, $70,000 was a reasonable amount for pain and suffering for a trimalleolar fracture in a case with similar facts. This was a very severe ankle fracture for her to spend 10 days in the hospital immediately following the injury.
Pain and Suffering Component is Just One Factor in the case.
The full value of the pain and suffering component is just one component of the case. This value is added to the economic damages component of the claim to arrive at the full value of the case.
The full value of the case is then adjusted by any, or all, of the 86 factors that may affect the settlement value of a Florida injury case.
You then arrive at the fair settlement range for an ankle injury caused by someone’s carelessness an accident in Florida, or on a boat or cruise.
The above settlement value does not include other damages that you may get compensated (paid) for, such as lost wages and medical bills. When determining how much your case may be worth, your lost wages and medical bills are added to the value of pain and suffering.
There are many factors that affect how much money you may possibly receive. Some of the information about the settlement value of simple ankle fracture or surgery on an ankle tear does not apply if you have:
- only a workers’ compensation case and not a case against someone other than your employer. But the pain and suffering component does apply if you are an employee of a cruise line and you were injured onboard the cruise ship.
Example of when you may not get money for pain and suffering for your ankle injury in Florida – Land based employee – No third party claim
Let’s assume that you are working as a bagger or other position in Publix Supermarkets in Miami or at another location in Florida. Let’s assume that you are working on the sales floor or other area at a Publix Supermarket or any business in Miami, Florida.
You slip and fall on a substance or liquid that was on the floor.
You fracture your ankle. We’ll assume that you don’t know who caused the water, liquid or other substance to get on the floor. The only claim that you most likely have is a workers compensation claim against your employer, in this case Publix.
Because you may not have a case against a third party (someone other than your employer), the settlement value that I talk about in this article does not apply to your workers compensation case.
This is because in most scenarios, but not all, you are not entitled to get money for pain and suffering in Florida if your only claim for your injuries is against your employer.
In the above example, you do not have to prove that Publix was at fault in order to possibly get benefits from them.
Example of when you may get money for pain and suffering for your ankle injury in Florida – Land based employee – Third party claim
If we take the same facts as above except that the spill was caused by another company who was delivering or stacking items on the shelves, then the settlement value for pain and suffering that I reference in this article may apply.
Settlement Value of Pain and Suffering for Ankle Injury Applies If You’re Injured While Working for a Cruise Ship
Unlike the above example, if you are injured while working for a cruise line (ship), then the settlement values mentioned in this article may apply. This is because the Jones Act may apply and you may be able to get money for your pain and suffering if you can prove that the cruise line is at fault.
Similar to an injury on the job in Florida, the cruise line should pay your medical bills and wages paid regardless of fault.
Let us assume that you are working on a cruise ship which requires that your claim be brought in Miami.
Let’s assume that you are working in one of the following positions on a Carnival cruise ship: waiter, cook, bar server, hotel steward, galley steward or another job.
You slip and fall or are injured while lifting something that was heavy. You may be able to get money for pain and suffering if you can prove that Carnival did something wrong that caused your accident or incident.
So let’s assume you have a tear in your ankle and you get surgery to repair it. The formula that I use is as follows:
Settlement = Value of Pain and Suffering for Ankle Tear with Surgery + Maintenance and Cure
Seamen who are injured while at sea are entitled to maintenance and cure from their employers. Maintenance is a seaman’s day-to-day living expenses. Cure is the seaman’s medical costs. Employers are required to pay maintenance and cure until the seaman is fit for duty, or until he or she has reached a point where additional medical treatment will not help him.
Settlement = ($25,000 to $50,000) + Maintenance and Cure
So you may, but are not guaranteed, to get somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000 in pain and suffering if you are injured while working on a cruise ship and you are an US resident. The cruise line should also send you to get medical treatment and pay for those bills, as well as pay you for your lost wages.
If you are not an US resident, you may get less if you are forced to go to arbitration in your home country. If you can’t prove that Carnival Cruise Line did something wrong (negligent) that caused your accident, then you may only be entitled to maintenance and cure.
Now, let’s talk about some other actual settlements and verdicts for ankle injuries.
8. Factors to Consider in a Broken Ankle or Ankle Tear Case
You should look at several things to determine the amount of money that you may get for your wrist fracture from an accident or incident. Some of these are:
a. Insurance Coverage.
In order to receive compensation, there needs to be insurance coverage without an exclusion or the fault party needs to have money to pay for your case. If the business liability insurer has a CGL policy, you may not get any money if the insurer denies coverage (even if you have a fractured ankle).
If you slipped or tripped and fell at a business establishment, there probably will not be an exclusion that will allow the insurance company to deny coverage.
An exclusion in a liability policy may allow the insurer to assert a coverage defense and deny your claim if your injuries are caused by an intentional act of a company or person. Examples of common exclusions that may apply are if the at-fault party:
- Intentionally injured you (e.g. beat you up, roughed you up, or purposely hit you)
b. Business liability Insurance
A business does not have to have business liability insurance.
The good news is that if you slipped or tripped and fell at a business establishment, most of the time it has a business liability insurance policy that usually has liability limits that are enough to pay for your injuries. Often times, the business carries liability limits of one million dollars or more.
If you are injured at a large store with multiple locations, there is a strong likelihood that the store is self-insured (at least for a large amount).
If you fractured your ankle while on a cruise ship, the cruise lines (Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), Celebrity Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, etc.) are self- insured. Thus, they have enough money to pay for your injuries.
Example #1 – Injured at large store – Insurance not an issue
You are walking in a Publix Supermarket in Kendall or any city in Florida and you slip and fall on a substance as you are turning a corner. You are not exactly sure what you fell on, but perhaps it consisted of: footprints, tracks, grimy, greasy, dirty, rotting, smudges, streaks of the substance, or a large puddle.
That evidence may allow you to prove constructive notice and argue that Publix should have cleaned it up. For purposes of this example, I will assume that Publix is liable for the accident, and you are not at fault.
In reality, proving constructive notice in a slip and fall case is generally more difficult than proving that the store was aware of a substance on the floor.
Your ankle (malleolus) is fractured. You are 60 years old and retired so you have no lost wages. Your out-of-pocket medical bills are $3,000. You get a little bit of physical therapy. The cast is removed after 6 weeks or so. You have little or no limitations, and little or no permanent injury.
Since you did not have surgery, you recovered quickly, the value of pain and suffering may be somewhere around $25,000 or so. This is the low end of the range for a simple ankle fracture.
Case value = (Pain and suffering) + (Medical Bills) + (Lost Wages)
Case value = ($25,000) + ($3,000) + ($0)
Case value = approximately $28,000
Now because Publix is self-insured, you may be able to settle this claim with Publix for $28,000 or so. You do not have to worry about Publix not having enough insurance to pay for your pain and suffering and medical bills.
The reality is that in many cases involving an ankle fracture, there is liability insurance but there is not enough to cover you for the value of your case.
c. How the Injured Person’s Fault Affects Case Value
In the above example, I assumed that you were not at fault. If you were comparatively negligent (at-fault), the value of your case will be reduced.
d. No Permanent Injury Required to Get Pain and Suffering Compensation in Florida Slip, Trip and Fall Cases
In Florida, you do not need a permanent injury to qualify for pain and suffering compensation in slip, trip and falls, and other non-motor vehicle accident cases.
e. Insurance Company
Some insurers have a reputation for paying more than others for the same exact case. This assumes that the damages due not significantly exceed the policy limits.
So Many Factors Affect the Case Value
As you can see from the above examples, there are many factors that may affect that value of your ankle fracture case. Every case is different, and one factor can greatly change the value of your case.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your ankle injury in slip, trip and fall or other accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.