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Ankle Fracture Settlements and Verdicts

Our law firm has successfully handled scores of foot and ankle serious injury accident cases. If you want someone to fight for you, lawyers that know these cases, call 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation.

I think I have a good handle on the settlement value of ankle fracture cases.  We have handled a lot of foot and ankle injury cases over the years.  My first foot and ankle case was 17 years ago when I sued the New England Patriots and their team doctors that ultimately settled. I probably met with a half dozen of the best foot and ankle surgeons in the country in connection with that case. Since then, Miller & Zois has handled scores of foot and ankle injury case and procured millions of dollars for our clients in these cases. My last ankle injury verdict was in Prince George’s County was the 6th biggest verdict that year, according to Washingtonian Magazine.  (Here is a video providing the story of that case.)   My point is we know the science of these cases. We know how to maximize the settlement and trial value of these claims.

What is the Average Ankle Injury Settlement?

What kind of success are other lawyers having in fracture ankle cases? Apparently, they are having very little success. The median settlement values for ankle fracture injuries are:

District of Columbia $66,000
Virginia $21,700
Maryland $88,000

It is amazing how low these are.  These are from a few years ago. But I think the number has not changed in 2019.  Sure, some ankle fractures can be treated with conservative care if the fracture displacement is two millimeters or fewer or if there is no talar shift.  But I can’t imagine getting less than six figures in the vast majority of these cases.  I don’t know how much insurance policy limits came into play in these cases.  Either way, these numbers are just way too low. The loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress from these injuries are often extreme even before we talk about how painful they are. One problem is not distinguishing between a good result and a good outcome for the patient.  A good result for an orthopedic surgeon is a good-looking x-ray.  The fracture is healed, mobility is good and the ankle joint is where it’s supposed to be. But you can have a good x-ray and still have a permanent injury, particularly when there is hardware is keeping the broken ankle together.

Value of ankle injuries

Two Take-Homes from These Ankle Statistics

Two more points of interest in this data. First, don’t get a broken ankle fracture in Virginia. It is amazing to me how low these Virginia verdicts are. I have to think this data is screwed up in some way. Second, it is interesting that Maryland ankle fracture verdicts are 33% higher than Washington, D.C. verdicts, given that the Maryland median was much less than Washington, D.C. for both fractured shoulder and rotator cuff verdicts. ankle fracture valueThe Federal Tort Claims Act News wrote an article about how Jury Verdict Research Case Evaluation Software was predicting the value of claims in a particular slip and fall case with an ankle fracture. In this case, the jury predicted a probable verdict of $117,600 with only a 33% chance of success on liability (maybe a tough slip and fall case on liability).  I just struggle to see how a case with a good fracture could be valued so low. As a point of comparison, it provided the following JVR nationwide analysis of ankle injuries:

Award Median $91,925
Probability Range $40,000 – $248,223
Award Range $1 – $5,250,804

  One more point: median settlement values are the midpoint of the data, not the average. So included in the math are many awful cases that probably never should have been filed in the first place. So why not just quote the average? Well, the high range of these ankle verdicts is $5,250,804. That also distorts the statistics. The take-home message: settlement and verdict statistics are invariably misleading.

What Are the 20 Factors That Impact Your Ankle Injury Settlement?

These are 20 factors that drive the trial and settlement value of your ankle fracture case:

  1. Surgery
  2. Surgery with internal fixation (hardware)
  3. Open reduction surgery
  4. Complex fracture
  5. Displace bone
  6. Continued ankle swelling (synovitis)
  7. Synovitis with chondral changes
  8. Signs of arthritic changes
  9. Arthrofibrosis
  10. Chondral injuries
  11. Loose bodies
  12. Nerve Damage
  13. An ankle replacement
  14. Walking with a limp
  15. Non-weight bearing ankle
  16. High past and future medical bills
  17. Permanent ligament or tendon damage
  18. A crush injury
  19. Permanent instability
  20. Amputation

All these factors lead to the question of how is the ankle injury permanent and, if so, how severe is the permanency. The types of cases that do not do as well are preexisting ankle injury cases and soft tissue injury cases where there is no objective finding on a diagnostic test.

ankle fracture statistics

Click to enlarge

Are There Sample Verdicts and Settlements in Ankle Injury Cases to Compare My Case?

Below is another path to look at the settlement value of ankle injury cases: sample verdicts and settlements. I think these are helpful. But please remember that no two cases are alike and you cannot figure out the value of your case just by comparing your case with a similar case. No two cases are the same and someone’s verdict is just a poor predictor of what the outcome in your case will be. Certainly, along with other tools, it sheds light on the settlement value of your case. No question. But you just cannot put too much into it.

    YEAR / STATE

    CASE / INJURY SUMMARY

    RESULT

    2020 – Missouri

    A woman broke her ankle after slipping and falling on an icy patch in a department store’s parking lot. A sub-contractor plowed around the parking lot but piled snow around the front of the store. The temperatures were chilly enough for icy patches to appear. Doctors performed open reduction and fixation surgery on the woman’s broken ankle. The case settled for $225,000.

    $225,000 – Settlement

    2020 – Washington

    A 29-year-old petroleum inspector was gauging a barge at a refinery. After doing so, he crossed a gangway and fell to the hard surface below. He suffered a herniated disc and ankle, foot, and neck injuries. The man sued the barge’s owner for negligence. He also claimed that he lost his job because of his injuries. The jury awarded him $266,500.

    $266,500 – Verdict

    2020 – Florida

    The 56-year-old bank manager fell as she exited a mixed-use building. She suffered an ankle fracture. The woman underwent multiple surgical procedures and months of physical therapy to treat her injuries. She sued the premise’s owner for negligently creating dangerous conditions. The jury assigned 90 percent liability to the premise’s owner and 10 percent liability to the woman. They determined that the damages totaled $720,000, but the woman could only recover $648,000 based on comparative negligence.

    $720,000 – Verdict

    2020 – Virginia

    A passenger was injured after the vehicle they were in went off-road and struck an illegally parked tractor-trailer. They suffered fractures to their sternum, ribs, and ankle. The passenger sued both their driver and the trucker.  They received a $1,980,000 settlement.

    $1,980,000 – Settlement

    2019 – Pennsylvania

    Our lawyers see a lot of ankle injuries in nursing homes.  Here, a woman’s foot became wedged under the bed, causing a fracture that required an ankle fusion.  She went through all of this while in the nursing home because she was recovering from a stroke.

    $475,000 – Verdict

    2018 – New York

    A 69-year-old woman contended that her landlord would not fix her shower, requiring her to leave a drain uncovered.  She fell on the drain and suffered a bimalleolar ankle fracture, which is a tough ankle injury that often causes the victim permanent problems.  An angry jury awarded $2.4 million.

    $2,400,000 – Verdict

    2014 – Maryland

    The plaintiff was driving on a two-lane road when another car hit him head-on. He suffered a comminuted ankle fracture because of the crash. The plaintiff had to have two screws permanently implanted in his leg and developed a permanent limp because of his injuries. The jury awarded him $96,789.  This is one of those cases I’m talking about, right?  A permanent limp is only worth $96,000?

    $96,789 – Verdict

    ankle fracture settlement

    2014 – Pennslyvania

    As the plaintiff was exiting her apartment when she slipped and fell on icy steps. She sued the property owner, claiming that they negligently maintained the steps by failing to remove snow and freezing rain. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to inspect the property over the previous night, which led to the hazardous condition. She suffered an ankle fracture, which required the implementation of screws in her ankle, leading to arthritis. She also alleged that her ability to stand was compromised.

    $847,362 – Verdict

    2014 – Pennslyvania

    The plaintiff was crossing a street at a crosswalk when she stepped in an uneven asphalt patch. This caused her ankle to roll, leading to a fracture. She sued the city, alleging that they failed to maintain a dangerous condition. She had to receive surgery, where two screws were implanted in her ankle. The plaintiff had to undergo physical therapy and claimed that she suffers pain and swelling during prolonged periods of standing. The defense claimed that the alleged injuries were fully healed. Still, the parties reached a pretrial settlement.

    $225,000 – Settlement

    2014 – Virginia

    The plaintiff was a 59-year-old shipyard worker who slipped and fell on a patch of black ice while taking his car in for service. He sued the dealership, alleging that they failed to maintain a lesser-used sidewalk and that they knew that it commonly iced over. He suffered an ankle fracture and claimed that the injury aggravated a pre-existing back injury. He had to receive surgery to repair his ankle and additional surgery to alleviate back pain. The defendants claimed that he had previously inquired about the back surgery prior to the fall. The jury awarded him $2,000,000.

    $2,000,000 – Verdict

    2013 – Maryland

    When the plaintiff was inside a Taco Bell restaurant, a fight ensued, and the plaintiff was struck in the face by an employee. He fell backward in the fight, which caused his ankle to become fractured. He had to receive two surgeries to fix his ankle and developed an infection. Additionally, he claimed that he had limited mobility in his ankle. The insurance company contended that he provoked the fight. The jury awarded him $260,506.

    $260,506 – Verdict

    2010 – North Carolina

    The plaintiff was interested in purchasing a new boat. While on a demonstration with a boat salesman, the boat hit choppy waters causing the plaintiff to be thrown up and down in the boat. He fractured both ankles, one of which required surgery. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant was operating the boat at unsafe speeds given the choppiness of the water. He sued the boat operator and the marina and received a $10,397,291 judgment. This case underscores the impact on the amount of the verdict a good lost wage claim can make.  This man was a urologist and most of the damage award accounted for his past and future earnings.

    $10,397,291 – Verdict

    2010 – North Carolina

    In this motor vehicle accident case, a woman was struck by the at-fault driver trying to enter the roadway from a cross-street. She suffered an ankle fracture from the car accident. The parties eventually settled for $80,000.

    $80,000 – Settlement

    Does the Lawyer Make a Difference in the Outcome?

    Obviously, the quality of your lawyer makes a big difference at trial. But it also makes a huge difference at the settlement table, particularly in ankle injury cases. Why? Because the settlement value of the EXACT SAME ankle injury will vary wildly depending on who your lawyer is. Too many accident attorneys do not understand the real value of these case. The result is a settlement below the true value of the case that fully compensates the victim for all the harm that has been done.

    Getting a Lawyer for Your Ankle Injury Case

    If you have an ankle fracture case in Maryland or Washington, D.C., call me at 800-553-8082 or fill out this claim form online. We can help you bring your personal injury claim and get compensation.  If you are outside of the Baltimore-D.C. area and you have a serious ankle fracture, call me or find my bio and email me.  I can (probably) help you find the right lawyer to maximize the value of your ankle fracture claim.

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