Someone’s carelessness may cause your ankle fracture. If so, you may be entitled to compensation.
In this article, I’ll first briefly talk about ankle fractures. Then, I’ll explain how I calculate the settlement value of an ankle fracture case. You’ll see real settlements and verdicts.
Additionally, I’ll talk about how treating with the wrong foot can destroy a case. Conversely, you’ll see why treating with other doctors can increase the chance of getting fair settlement value.
Lastly, I give a list of doctors who won’t destroy an ankle fracture case.
A broken bone is called an ankle fracture. If you fracture your ankle, 1 or more of the bones that comprise the ankle joint are broken.
All things equal, your case has a higher full settlement value if you break more than 1 bone.
A fractured ankle can be just a simple break in one bone. It may not even prevent you from walking. With a simple break in one bone, the case has a lower value.
On the other hand, you may have several fractures that make your ankle out of place and prevent you from placing weight on it for a couple of months or so. If you have several fractures, your case has a higher full value for settlement purposes.
This is, in part, because not being able to put weight on your ankle affects your quality of life. It becomes part of your claim for loss of enjoyment of life.
The greater the number of bones that are fractured, the more unstable your ankle is. The full value of your case increases if your ankle is unstable.
It’s possible to damage ligaments in addition to your ankle fracture. The ligaments in your ankle hold the ankle bones and joint in place.
Your case is stronger if you’re an active person who suffers an ankle fracture. This is because an active person’s life is more greatly impacted by being inactive due to a broken ankle.
Anatomy of the Ankle
3 bones form the ankle joint. They are the:
- Tibia (shinbone)
- Fibula (tinier bone of the lower leg)
- Talus (tiny bone that is between the calcaneus (heel bone) and the tibia and fibula
The tibia and fibula have unique parts that form the ankle. They are:
- Posterior malleolus – the back of the tibia
- Medial malleolus – the inside part of the tibia
- Lateral malleolus – the end of the fibula
The doctor will describe your ankle fracture based on the part of the bone that is fractured. For instance, a break at the bottom of the fibula is known as a lateral malleolus fracture.
If you fractured both the tibia and fibula, you have a bimalleolar fracture. A bimalleolar fracture is typically worth more than a simple ankle fracture.
This is because, in part, it involves two fractured bones. (The image at the top of this article is a bimalleolar fracture.)
How Much is a Bimalleolar Ankle Fracture With Surgery Worth?
If you look at Florida jury verdicts, the full value of the pain and suffering component of a bimalleolar fracture with ORIF surgery is $250,000 to $375,000. However, there are some verdicts which are lower. Likewise, there are other trimalleolar fractures (with surgery) that are above $375,000.
But that’s not it. You need to ask your doctor if you will need an ankle fusion.
Ask the Doctor if You’ll Need an Ankle Fusion in the Future
If your orthopedic doctor says that you will need a future ankle fusion, the full value of the pain and suffering component of the fusion could be $200,000 or higher.
In order to convince an insurance adjuster that you’ll need an ankle fusion, you typically need:
- Continued medical treatment and problems after your ORIF surgery
- Evidence of Post traumatic arthritis
If you don’t meet the above two criteria, it will be tough to convince the insurance company that you will need a fusion. Thus, they likely won’t offer you money for the future possible fusion.
If your ankle heals great or you haven’t received medical treatment for years before the time when the case is ready to settle, the insurance company likely won’t offer you money for your recommended ankle fusion.
Even if your doctor says that you need a future ankle fusion, the insurance company for the at fault party will likely argue that you do not need an ankle fusion. They will argue (or hire a orthopedic doctor) that medical peer reviewed research says that the likelihood of needing an ankle fusion is only about 2% to 3%. That is a small chance.
So don’t expect an insurance company to pay 100% of a future ankle fusion.
How Much is a A Bimalleolar Fracture with Surgery, and a Recommended Ankle Fusion Worth?
If you have surgery to fix a bimalleolar fracture, and the orthopedic doctor recommends an ankle fusion, the full value of the pain and suffering component may be $500,000 to over $1,000,000. Some verdicts are lower. Other verdicts may be higher.
There are 2 joints that are involved in a fractured ankle. They are:
- Ankle joint – where the tibia, fibula and talus meet
- Syndesmosis joint – the joint in the middle of the tibia and fibula, which ligaments hold together.
There are several ligaments that help keep the ankle joint stable.
What Types of Accidents Cause an Ankle Fracture?
Ankle fractures can be caused by:
- A blow during a car crash
- Tripping and falling, or slipping and falling
- Rolling your ankle
- Twisting or rotating your ankle
Signs of an Ankle Fracture
A bad ankle sprain can feel just like a broken ankle. Thus, all ankle injuries should be looked at by a doctor.
In addition, the quicker that you get treatment, the better it is for your case. This is because it weakens the insurance company’s defense that your ankle fracture wasn’t caused by the accident.
Typical signs of a fractured ankle are:
- Instant and intense pain
- Can’t put weight on the hurt foot
- Deformity (“out of place”), specifically if the ankle joint is also dislocated
If you have swelling or bruising, you should immediately take good quality photos of it. This will allow the adjuster to see, at least some of, your injury.
Going to the Doctor
The doctor will ask you for your medical history, what you’re experiencing and how the injury happened. It is important to choose your words carefully when telling the doctor how the accident happened.
The doctor will describe how the injury occurred in his notes. This will become evidence in your case.
X-rays are the most customary imaging technique to see if you have an ankle fracture. They can show if your bone is fractured.
They can also show if you have displacement (gap in the middle of the broken bone). Your case may be worth more if you have a decent size gap between the bone. The bigger the gap, the greater the case value.
The x-rays can also show if there are more than one piece of broken bone. The more pieces of broken bone, the greater the case value.
If your fracture goes into the ankle joint, a CT scan can help see the injury. Cases are typically worth more if the fracture extends into the ankle joint.
An MRI will show both the bones and the soft tissues, such as ligaments.
Treatment for a Lateral Malleolus Fracture
A lateral malleolus fracture is a fractured fibula.
You may not need surgery, if your ankle is stable (broken bone isn’t out of place or hardly out of place). If you don’t need surgery, your case has a lower value.
The doctor may recommend that you wear a short leg cast or high top tennis sneaker. Sometimes, your doctor will let you place weight on their leg immediately. These cases generally have a smaller settlement value because you’re less limited in your activities.
Other doctors may make you wait about 6 weeks to put weight on it.
You’ll usually have to go to your doctor often to get more ankle x-rays. This is to be certain that the fragments of your fracture haven’t shifted out of place during your recovery.
If the fragments of your fracture have moved out of place, and you didn’t do something carelessly to cause it, the initial responsible party is on the hook for your damages.
What is the Value of Pain and Suffering in an Ankle Fracture Case?
If someone’s negligence causes you to break an ankle, you need to assign a certain value to the pain and suffering component of the case. Pain and suffering one of the damages that you can get compensation for. You need to know the pain and suffering value so that you can be in the best position to settle your case.
The bad news?
Ankle fractures (without surgery) have low values. The full settlement value of pain and suffering of a simple ankle fracture (without surgery) is between $15,000 to $35,000. This range is for cases in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County and other counties in Florida with liberal juries. If you are in a conservative county, the range is lower.
If you are an older person who breaks their ankle in an an accident, the pain and suffering is worth more because your ankle typically won’t heal perfectly. If you have a single bone ankle fracture (without surgery) and you are over 60 years old, an insurance company with bodily injury liability limits of $50,000 may pay the limits to settle the case.
This is especially true if you are dealing with a better paying insurer like The Hartford, Nationwide Insurance Company, Crum & Forster, Hanover and others.
Companies like Progressive, Allstate and Farmers are more likely to value your pain and suffering at the lower end of the range. They are all really cheap.
Which end of the pain and suffering range applies to your ankle fracture (without surgery)?
The low end ($15,000) of the range applies if your ankle fracture:
- Heals in a few weeks with a little bit of physical therapy (PT); and
- Has little to no permanent impairment (injury) or limitations.
The higher end of the range ($35,000) applies if you have:
- A longer period of treatment (about one year or longer); and
- More serious future limitations on the use of your ankle; and
- Continuous serious pain
Keep in mind that the above pain and suffering values are full values for settlement purposes. In a car accident case, where the other driver is 100% at fault, you may get the full value.
On the other hand, you’ll rarely get full value in a slip and fall case. If the condition that you slipped or tripped on is open and obvious, you should discount the settlement value accordingly. Issues proving liability and cases where you are greatly at fault can quickly take the value of broken ankle case – without surgery – down to $10,000 to $20,000 (or maybe less).
$90K Settlement for Broken Ankle (Pedestrian Hit by Car)
During broad daylight, Alice was walking in a supermarket parking lot in North Miami, Florida. A car struck her.
Here is the diagram from the Florida traffic crash report:
Here is a street view of the accident scene:
As a result, Alice broke her ankle (distal fibula). Fortunately, she did not need surgery. As with all fractured ankle cases, surgery would have increased the full settlement value of the case. Full value is the amount before reducing case value by difficulty proving liability and other potential issues.
Alice also bruised her face as a result of it impacting the road.
After hearing the basic facts of the case, I told her that I believed that I could represent her grandma. However, ethically, her grandmother had to call me. She then had Alice call me. After we spoke, she quickly hired me. I immediately began fighting for her rights.
Progressive insured the driver who hit her. And they took a tough stance. Progressive blamed Alice (at least partially) for getting hit by the car!
I jumped into action and argued that the driver had plenty of time to see Alice. This was particularly true because the accident happened in broad daylight. You see, the time of day when the accident happened can affect the settlement value of a pedestrian’s case.
I also told Progressive that there was nothing obstructing the driver’s view. Ultimately, we settled Alice’s personal injury claim for $90,000.
94% of the Settlement was for Her Pain and Suffering
Most of the settlement was for her pain and suffering. Here is a pie chart which shows the breakdown:
Just 6% of the settlement was for her medical bills. She owed very little in out of pocket medical bills. This is because her personal injury protection (PIP) from her car insurance paid most of her medical bills.
Alice was entitled to PIP benefits because she owned a car at the time of this accident. United Auto Insurance Company (UAIC) insured her car.
Additionally, she had a Medicare supplement insurance that paid for some of her bills. Check out the Progressive settlement check:
The best part?
Alice is thrilled with the settlement. This is one of my many car accident settlements with Progressive. Here, Alice broke the distal fibula (which forms the ankle.) You can learn about settlements that also include other parts of the lower leg (fibula and/or tibia).
Lady Gets $25K Settlement for Ankle Fracture from Slip and Fall
A woman was walking down stairs. She slipped on water. Thus, she knew that the floor was slippery before her fall. Moments later, she (again) slipped on water. As a result of her second slip (and fall), she broke her ankle.
After the fall, she searched for a slip and fall lawyer in Miami. She got a free consultation with me to see if I could represent her. After we spoke, she hired me as her attorney.
When calculating the settlement value of her case, I estimated that she was at least 50% at fault for not looking where she was walking. My estimation was based on the facts of this particular case.
We settled her case for $25,000. She was happy with the payout.
Target Shopper Gets $60K for Ankle Fracture
This isn’t my case. A shopper got a $60,000 verdict for pain and suffering for a fractured ankle. She claimed that she slipped on a worn out and wet carpet at Target in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The shopper 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.
Jury Awards Only $7K for Ankle Fracture (from Fall)
This isn’t my case. A jury awarded $7,000 for an ankle fracture from a shopper’s fall. $2,000 of this verdict was for pain and suffering.
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.
What caused her fall?
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. The jury 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.
How Much Is a Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture Worth?
“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.
What does a trimalleolar fracture look like before and after surgery?
Past recent Florida jury verdicts put average pain and suffering portion of most trimalleolar fractures with surgery at between $250,000 to $375,000.
The average pain and suffering amount for a trimalleolar fracture is usually towards the middle of that range.
Again, I’m talking about the full value before any reductions for liability or the injured person’s fault.
Surgery for a trimalleolar fracture involves inserting screws and a plate(s). This is known as open reduction internal fixation.
How Does a 2nd Surgery to Remove Hardware Affect a Trimalleolar Case Value?
After you have screws put in your leg to fix your trimalleolar fracture, they may irritate your skin.
If they does, an orthopedic surgeon may later remove a screw(s). At this time, the doctor may also clean out the area, including any ligaments, tendons or muscles.
If you have this hardware removal surgery, after you’ve had hardware inserted to fix your trimalleolar fracture, the full value of the pain and suffering component is higher.
Thus, the 2nd surgery (removing the hardware) adds value.
$667K Verdict for Trimalleolar Ankle Fracture (With Surgery)
This isn’t my case. On June 20, 2016, Lebron was a passenger on Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas cruise ship. He was ice skating on this Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Yes, some cruise ships have ice skating rinks onboard.
While skating, fell. He said that the cause of the fall was a groove in the ice, and broken laces on his skates.
As a result of the fall, he suffered a trimalleolar ankle fracture. About 7 days after his fall, surgery of his right ankle was done. After the operation, he wore an ankle cast for 3 months. He couldn’t put weight on his ankle. Then, he had physical therapy.
He continued to complain of right ankle pain, stiffness and decreased sensation on the top of his foot. He had difficulty with prolonged walking, especially uphill.
His ankle pain was improving. However, his ankle was tender to touch. He experienced sharp, aching and associated with swelling and limited range of motion.
On a bad day, his pain was 8 out of 10. When his attorney hired a doctor to examine him, his pain was 6 at of 10 currently.
He has been treated with anti-inflammatory medications, and Cataflam. Cataflam is used to relieve pain and swelling (inflammation) from various mild to moderate painful conditions.
He did not have any injuries to his right ankle before the fall.
On October 2, 2018, a jury awarded him $625,000 for his pain and suffering. That is a very good pain and suffering award.
They also awarded him $42,005 for his medical bills. Therefore, the total verdict was for about $667,000.
However, the only found the cruise line 65% responsible. Thus, he is only entitled to 65% of the verdict.
The jury could have easily found that the cruise line did nothing wrong. This is a big win for the passenger.
Patron Wins $1.63 Million for Trimalleolar Fracture from Fall at Wendy’s
This is not my case. $1,600,000 of the settlement was for pain and suffering. She had a trimalleolar fracture.
A doctor put 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.
$75,200 Verdict for Ankle Fracture from Slip and Fall
This is not my case. A 55-year-old woman who slipped and fell at an apartment complex in Miami-Dade County, Florida. $70,000 of the verdict was for pain and suffering.
The appeals court affirmed (approved) it. She was also awarded approximately $5,200 for medical expenses.
She fractured all three ankle bones, which is called a trimalleolar fracture.
It gets worse.
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.
Settlements for Tibia and Fibula Fractures in Children
Sometimes a tibia or fibula fracture in a child involves the fracture of the growth plate. The growth plate is called the physis. It located at each end of the tibia.
If the growth plate is fractured, this increases the full value of the case.
Distal tibial fractures occur at the ankle end of the tibia. They are also called tibial plafond fractures.
One of the common types in children is the distal tibial metaphyseal fracture. This is a fracture in the metaphysis, the part of tibia before it reaches its widest point.
These fractures are usually transverse (across) or oblique (slanted) breaks in the bone.
Distal tibial metaphyseal fractures usually heal well after setting them without surgery and applying a cast.
However, there is a risk of full or partial early closure of the growth plate. This may lead to a growth arrest in the form of leg length discrepancy or other deformity.
Ask the doctor if there is full or partial early closure of the growth plate. If he or she says yes, this increases the full value of the case.
Having one leg longer than the other increases the child’s injury case.
Which Accidents (that Cause an Ankle Fracture) Result in the Biggest Settlements?
Often times, in ankle fracture cases, there isn’t enough insurance to pay for the fair value of the claim. However, there is often plenty of insurance if the accident involves an Uber or Lyft car.
This is because Uber and Lyft drivers are often covered with big bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance policies.
On the other hand, many motorcycle accident settlements for ankle fractures may be smaller because many drivers carry very little car insurance coverage. And there is often no uninsured motorist insurance on the motorcycle.
The same is true for a pedestrian who is hit by a car. Often times, the at fault driver has limited BIL insurance. This can leave the pedestrian with the possibility of getting a smaller settlement.
Which Doctors Won’t Kill an Ankle Fracture Case?
It’s important to hire a good lawyer for an ankle fracture case. However, it’s just as important to get treatment from a doctor who won’t destroy your ankle injury claim. Doctors who are likely to hurt the injured person’s case are called “defense doctors”.
Your medical records are the heart of your ankle injury case. Sloppy medical records can hurt the value of a case. This can mean a smaller settlement offer.
How can the wrong doctor kill your case?
For starters, an unhelpful doctor won’t conference with the injured person’s lawyer. This is bad because you need to know what the doctor will say if the case winds up in a lawsuit. You don’t want to spend the money (and time) filing a lawsuit only to later learn that your doctor will sink your case.
Moreover, a defense doctor’s initial patient questionnaire might not ask you if you were injured in an accident. Thus, an unhelpful doctor may not mention the accident in his medical records. I’ve had this happen before. Trust me, it’s no fun. And if the medical records don’t mention the accident, chances are that the doctor didn’t bill the proper insurance(s).
It gets worse. An defense doctor may say that your ankle is perfectly fine even if you have pain or other doctors believe it’s a permanent injury.
Some defense doctors earn big money testifying for insurance companies. These defense experts can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Don’t panic. There is hope.
There are other doctors who will give you fair shake. These doctors are “patient advocates”. They don’t earn the majority of their expert income from insurance companies.
In a moment, I’ll share the names and contact information for some orthopedic doctors and podiatrists who are known for being fair to injured accident victims.
One of the benefits to hiring a personal injury lawyer is that he or she can tell you if your foot doctor will destroy your case. If so, the attorney should be able to give you the names of an orthopedic doctor or podiatrist who is fair.
Additionally, an accident attorney can ask your doctor the proper questions so that their medical report accurately documents your injury. After all, in order to get a fair settlement for your injury, you need a detailed medical records.
Below is my list of Miami and Broward County doctors who are fair to injured accident victims. My list contains the names of South Florida ankle doctors.
However, I have other lists for the entire state of Florida. This is because I represent people throughout the entire state of Florida.
Miami-Dade County Foot and Ankle Doctors
- Michael R Cook, DPM Phone (305) 412-1218 8955 SW 87th Ct #108, Miami, FL 33176
- Dr. Jesse Shaw, DO (Hialeah) , Hollywood and Pembroke Pines)
- Dominic J. Lewis (Aventura, Florida) Phone 305-937-1999
- Dr Allison Guyen (Miami Beach)
Broward County Foot and Ankle Doctors
- Steven M. Spinner, DPM, 201 N University Dr #110, Plantation, Florida 33324(954) 370-2400
- Steven D. Steinlauf, MD (Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Institute of South Florida) Phone: (954) 961-3500
- Dr. Jesse Shaw, DO (Hollywood and Pembroke Pines)
- Dr. Robert Mills (at Holy Cross in Fort Lauderdale)
Did You Break Your Ankle in an Accident in Florida?
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