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I think I have a pretty 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 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|
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 start talking about how painful they are.
One problem, I think, 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.
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.
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 is 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.
20 Factors That Impact Your Ankle Injury Settlement
These are 20 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
- Permanent instability
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 are no objective finding on a diagnostic test.
Sample Verdicts and Settlements in Ankle Cases
This will give you another way to look at value: sample verdicts and settlements. 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 can shed light on value. No question. But you just cannot put too much into it.
- 2019, Pennsylvania: $475,000 Verdict – Our lawyers see a lot of ankle injuries in nursing homes. In this case, 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 72-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. A clearly angry jury awarded $12.4 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 as a result of the crash. The plaintiff had to have two screws permanently implanted in his leg and developed a permanent limp as a result 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?
- 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.
- 2014, Pennsylvania: $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, Pennsylvania: $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.
- 2010, North Carolina: $10,397,291 Verdict – 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.
- 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.
Getting a Lawyer to Fight for You
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.