I think I have a good handle on the settlement value of ankle fracture cases. My law firm has handled many 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 cases 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.)
I’m not trying to brag. My point is we know the science of these cases. We know how to maximize the settlement and trial value of these claims.
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:
What Is the Average Compensation for an 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|
|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.|
It is amazing how low these are. These are from a few years ago. But I think the number has not changed in 2021. 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 compensation payout 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.
How Much Should I Settle for a Broken Ankle with Surgery?
I know I wrote the question. But I hate the question. There are so many variables – that I lay out below – that drive settlement compensation payouts. There is no way to put a settlement amount on a case with such a vague description.
Two Take-Homes from These Ankle Settlement 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. The 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:
|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 21 Factors That Impact Your Ankle Injury Settlement?
These are 21 factors that drive the trial and settlement value of your ankle fracture case:
- Surgery with internal fixation (hardware)
- Open reduction surgery
- Complex fracture
- Displace bone
- Continued ankle swelling (synovitis)
- Synovitis with chondral changes
- Signs of arthritic changes
- Chondral injuries
- Loose bodies
- Nerve Damage
- An ankle replacement
- Walking with a limp
- Non-weight bearing ankle
- High past and future medical bills
- Permanent ligament or tendon damage
- A crush injury
- Ankle ligament damage
- Permanent instability
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.
Also, remember these are not workers’ compensation cases but third-party ankle injury cases. The average payout for a workers’ comp ankle injury claim will be less.
Ankle Injury Verdicts and Settlements
Below are summaries of reported settlements and verdicts from actual tort cases in which the plaintiff’s primary claim was an ankle injury.
2023 – Illinois $150,000 – Verdict: The plaintiff reportedly tripped and fell while climbing/ascending a steep exterior stairway that was cut into the side of a hill, leading up from a stone patio on residential property owned by the defendants. The plaintiff suffered a compound fracture of her left ankle.
2023 – New Jersey $ – Settlement: The plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell while getting off a bus owned by the defendant because of water on the bus steps. The plaintiff allegedly suffered an osteochondral fracture of the lateral talar dome of her left ankle,along with injury to her neck. The case was eventually settled.
2022 – Washington $2,600,000 – Verdict: plaintiff, 91-year-old female, was walking down a sidewalk when a four-foot high plywood construction barrier fell on her foot and ankle. She suffered a fracture ankle which required fusion surgery. Jury awarded $2.6 million which included $636,000 for medical expenses.
2022 – Oregon $133,000 – Verdict: plaintiff, 48-year-old female social worker, suffered trimalleolar ankle fracture requiring surgery with hardware when she slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot of a mall. She sued the mall alleging that is was negligent in failing to remove the icy condition in the parking lot.
2021 – Louisiana $50,000 – Bench Verdict: A 58-year-old man walked with his bike. He was struck by a truck that ran over his ankle. The man suffered an ankle fracture. Two months later, he underwent an ankle repair that included the placement of screws. The man alleged negligence against the truck driver. He claimed he negligently drove against traffic. Following a bench trial, the jury awarded the man a $50,000 verdict.
2021 – Missouri $615,000 – Settlement: A woman tripped on concrete rebar in her apartment’s parking lot. She suffered a right ankle fracture. The woman underwent ankle surgery. She developed complex regional pain syndrome. The woman alleged negligence against the apartment owners. She claimed they failed to inspect for dangerous conditions and properly maintain the premises. This case settled for $615,000.
2021 – New York – $925,000 – Settlement: A man tripped on a sidewalk. He sustained a dislocated ankle fracture. Nine days later, the man underwent an open reduction internal fixation procedure. He subsequently underwent physical therapy for 12 months. The man now used a cane for prolonged walking. He alleged negligence against the City of New York. The man claimed it failed to maintain safe premises and address the defective sidewalk. This case settled for $925,000.
2021 – Connecticut – $1,325,000 – Settlement: A 61-year-old man casino patron walked along a concourse. He slipped and fell. The man fractured his left ankle and tore his right meniscus. He also suffered the aggravation of his pre-existing lumbar, thoracic, and left ankle injuries. The man underwent an open reduction internal fixation procedure. He also underwent physical therapy. The man experienced residual pain. He also found it difficult to walk and stand for extended periods. The man could no longer work as a dentist. He alleged negligence against the casino. He claimed it failed to clean up a liquid substance and warn patrons of the dangerous condition. This case settled for $1,325,000.
2021 – Virginia – $437,500 – Settlement: An 18-year-old passenger was ejected from a vehicle that struck an embankment. He suffered right ankle and thoracic fractures. The man alleged negligence against his driver. He claimed he excessively sped and failed to control his vehicle. This case settled for $437,500.
2021 – Missouri – $775,000 – Settlement: A woman was sideswiped. She suffered ankle, wrist, and rib fractures and head, elbow, and knee lacerations. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he made a negligently left turn and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $775,000.
2020 – Missouri – $225,000 – Settlement: 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.
2020 – Washington – $266,500 – Verdict: 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.
2020 – Florida – $720,000 – Verdict: 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.
2020 – Virginia – $1,980,000 – Settlement: 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.
2019 – Pennsylvania – $475,000 – Verdict: 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.
2018 – New York – $2,400,000 – Verdict: 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.
2014 – Maryland – $96,789 – Verdict: 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?
2014 – Pennslyvania – $847,362 – Verdict: 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.
2014 – Pennslyvania – $225,000 – Settlement: 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.
2014 – Virginia – $2,000,000 – Verdict: 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.
2013 – Maryland – $260,506 – Verdict: 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.
2010 – North Carolina – $80,000 – Settlement: 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.
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 lawsuits. 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.
Ankle Injury Medical Literature
- Cunningham, B, et al: 2021: Immediate Weightbearing After Operative Treatment of Bimalleolar and Trimalleolar Ankle Fractures: Faster Return to Work for Patients with Nonsedentary Occupations. J Foot Ankle Surg. Jan-Feb 2021;60(1):11-16. Bimalleolar fractures are breaks of the lateral malleolus and the medial malleolus. This article suggests that putting weight on these fractures earlier helps the long-term recovery process and gets patients back to work more quickly. Bimalleolar fractures are probably the most common open fractures in traumatic injury cases. Our attorneys’ experience with these cases is that even if surgery improves the patient’s outcome, a common result is permanent stiffness weakness that will likely get worse over time.
- Coles, C, et. al: (2019): Orthopaedic Trauma Association Members and Evidence-Based Treatment Recommendations. Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma: September 2019 – Volume 33 – Issue 9 – p e318-e324. This article underscores how the treatment of ankle surgery is sometimes more art than science which leads to a great deal of disagreement in the literature on how to treat these fractures (and the lack of consensus can drive patients to frustration).
- Xing, W., et al: 2018: The application of intraoperative ankle dislocation approach in the treatment of the unstable trimalleolar fractures involving posterior ankle comminuted fracture: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Surg 18, 23 (2018). This study looks at the different treatment options for trimalleolar fractures. Our lawyers have seen a good number of trimalleolar fracture cases. These are tough injuries and you have to bake into the average settlement payout calculus the likelihood of post-traumatic arthritis that may develop. We have had clients who needed physical therapy, bracing, intra-articular injections, or even further surgery long after the original injury.
Different Types of Ankle Injuries in Car Accidents
I put this part last because if you have an ankle injury, how much do you really care about how many different types of ankle injuries our car accident lawyers see? But people are looking at this page for many different reasons this is
Here are some common ankle injuries our attorneys see in car accidents:
- Sprains: A sprain occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle stretch or tear. Ankle sprains can range from mild to severe. A mild sprain might cause minor swelling and pain, while a severe sprain can involve a torn ligament and require weeks or months of recovery. Settlement amounts on sprains are not very high.
- Strains: While a sprain affects ligaments, a strain involves the muscles or tendons. An ankle strain is less common than a sprain but can still result from the trauma of a car accident. Similarly, settlement payout with this as the focal injury are generally low.
- Fractures: An ankle fracture occurs when one or more of the bones that make up the ankle joint break. Commonly fractured bones in the ankle include the tibia, fibula, and talus. The severity of a fracture can vary, with some fractures being minor and others requiring surgery.
- Dislocations: A dislocation happens when the bones of a joint are forced out of their normal positions. In the context of the ankle, a dislocation would involve the bones of the foot and the lower leg.
- Crush Injuries: These occur when the foot and ankle are compressed or trapped, such as during a head-on collision where the front of the vehicle crumples. This can result in a combination of fractures, sprains, strains, and soft tissue injuries. These claims have very high settlement payouts, obviously.
- Contusions or Bruises: Direct impact or trauma can cause the soft tissues in the ankle to become bruised. These might be minor and you don’t get a lot of money for a bruise, obviously.
- Lacerations or Cuts: Broken glass, metal shards, or other debris from a car accident can cause lacerations or deep cuts around the ankle. Usually not a big deal.
- Compartment Syndrome: This is a severe condition where swelling and bleeding within the muscles can increase pressure to dangerous levels, potentially damaging nerves and blood vessels. It requires urgent medical attention.
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 personal injury lawyer to maximize the value of your ankle fracture claim.