Ankle fractures are quite common in motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, and work-related accidents. They are, by their very nature, significant injuries because they relate directly to one’s weight bearing abilities. Factors such as age and/or one’s physical condition can turn a simple fracture to one having life changing repercussions.
Recently, a client of ours, a woman in her mid-60’s from Westborough, suffered a bimalleolar ankle fracture when her foot became caught on a defective carpet in a commercial building. It’s the type of fracture common to older individuals that involves both the lateral and medial malleoli at the distal ends of the fibula and tibia. Surgery is generally the primary medical treatment necessary due to the unstable nature of this type of fracture.
This article will explain the factors that should be considered and reviewed in determining the fair value of a personal injury claim involving a fractured or broken ankle. If you have questions or would like a free case review and evaluation, feel free to contact our Framingham injury lawyers using this contact form or call us at (508) 879-3500. We handle accident cases throughout Massachusetts and would be happy to discuss your situation with you.
How Broken Ankles Are Valued in a Massachusetts Injury Case
There are several factors that must be considered when determining the value of a broken ankle suffered in an accident. Important aspects are the severity of the injury, the medical treatment, expected recovery time, and the impact the injury had and will have on the person's life and their ability to work. For instance, an operation would undoubtedly result in a larger settlement than a simple non-displaced fracture.
But everyone is different, and a broken ankle can have long-lasting effects, well after surgery and post-surgical recovery and therapy. Our client from Westborough, in the example above, had to deal with ligament damage, arthritis, post traumatic osteoarthritis and nerve damage. There is always the concern of blood clots and infections. Given her age and physical condition, it is only natural that her recuperation time would be considerably longer, resulting in an increase in her damages and in the settlement amount.
Because of the complexity of her fracture, surgery was required. This surgery involved the installation of hardware, such as plates and screws, known as open reduction internal fixation (or ORIF). Following her surgery, she underwent lengthy recuperation with immobilization or casting followed by physical therapy.
Assessing the value of a fractured ankle in an accident that was caused by someone else can be a very involved process. Initially, the assessment begins with the standard valuation of a Massachusetts personal injury claim taking into consideration the cost of treatment and the amount of lost wages incurred by the injured person. When it comes to pain and suffering, additional circumstances must be considered from the more routine soft tissue type injuries commonly suffered in accidents.
A broken ankle that requires surgery can cause tremendous pain and suffering. Not only are these injuries painful themselves – before and after surgery – but the suffering and frustration someone goes through spending a significant time on crutches trying to get around is worthy of compensation. This is different than someone with a broken arm. I am not saying that a broken arm isn’t as painful or agonizing, but at least a person with a broken arm can still walk around normally. Being confined to using crutches is draining and restricting. These details must be fully understood and accounted for in determining a fair value for pain and suffering.
Likewise, the impact the injury has had on an accident victim’s daily activities and enjoyment of their life is important. If the fractured ankle prevented someone from doing something they normally do, it must be communicated and discussed with the insurance company. It is difficult to determine how much that is worth, but it should be presented to the insurance company as it would to a jury. This is where the advocacy skills and experience of a successful Massachusetts injury lawyer is needed.
Additionally, for broken ankles requiring surgical repair, visible scarring from the procedure must be evaluated. An experienced accident attorney will know and understand what is fair to compensate someone for a permanent scar. Similarly, when hardware, such as plates and screws, are required as part of the surgical procedure, it may result in some permanent impairment or disability in the use of the ankle. The ankle may not rotate or otherwise move in its usual range of motion. This must be evaluated to pursue the full and fair value of this type of injury.
Many times, it is critical to engage the use of a medical expert, such as an orthopedic surgeon, to evaluate the extent of permanent disability or impairment that resulted from this type of injury. For example, an orthopedic surgeon can assess the percentage of permanent impairment under the American Medical Association guidelines to permanent impairment. As you can see, there are so many components to be contemplated in determining the value of ankle injuries and presented to increase any potential settlement and recovery of compensation.
How Do Insurance Companies View Fractured Ankles?
Insurance companies routinely minimize injuries suffered in accidents, especially when an accident victim is pursuing compensation for their injuries and damages. Ankle fractures and injuries are no different, regardless of the individual circumstances. Adjusters often argue that these injuries are commonplace today and medical technology allows for people to have a full recovery. They try softening the severity of the injury or the level of pain and suffering one had to endure.
An example of this is our client, a 24-year-old male from Newton suffered a fractured ankle from a car crash on Route 9 in Framingham. He suffered several injuries, the most significant being a tri-malleolar fracture. This is a serious injury, even for a young man. This fracture occurs in the bones that form the ankle joint, the tibia, fibula, and talus. They are essential in the movement of one’s foot and ankle. A tri-malleolar fracture always requires surgery followed by long and extensive physical therapy. Regardless of the age of the accident victim, this type of fracture has a long-term impact on the quality of someone’s life. Our client is faced with constant pain requiring medication, difficulty in weight bearing for extended periods of time, long term use of an ankle brace and possibly future surgery to remove the hardware.
In that case, the injury adjuster from the negligent party’s insurance company argued that our client made a full recovery from his injury and downplayed the suffering our client sustained. They pointed to details in our client’s medical records where he explained to his surgeon that he was feeling better and was able to go for pain-free walks. They use this to try to lessen the value of pain and suffering.
Only an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney can fully appreciate and understand how to present a damages argument to maximize your Massachusetts personal injury settlement. It is experience and skill that allows an accident lawyer to present counter arguments to rebut an injury adjuster’s positions. In the example above, after diligent and comprehensive settlement negotiations, the insurance company surrendered their full bodily injury policy limits.
Settling an Injury Claim Involving a Fractured Ankle
Reaching a reasonable settlement with an insurance company after an accident proves to be difficult. Insurance companies routinely make it challenging for accident victims to recover the compensation they deserve. Their adjusters are trained to find ways to deny claims or minimize injuries and any compensation paid. This is why it is generally a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney after an accident.
Our Framingham accident lawyers at Mahaney & Pappas have successfully represented numerous clients who have suffered serious injuries in accidents. A key strategy is not to rush to settle accident cases. Rushing always results in undervaluing the settlement amount. We explore every aspect of your injury, pain and suffering and residual disability. Pain and suffering, though subjective, can’t be some arbitrary number applied. Over fifty years of combined experience at Mahaney & Pappas allow us to understand and communicate your physical pain, mental pain, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.
We retain and use medical experts to determine the need for future surgical treatment and any disability or impairment that may result from the injury or surgery. Disfigurement and scarring are also an essential component in valuing your settlement, which shouldn’t be overlooked. Disfigurement and scarring stay with you forever and an accident victim should be adequately compensated for any permanent scarring that remains after an accident or surgical procedure.
Additionally, lost wages and lost earning capacity are a key component to a fair recovery. These must be accurately substantiated. Our injury lawyers use economist experts to calculate and determine an accident’s lost wages and future lost earning capacity.
The above are, obviously, general considerations when negotiating a sufficient settlement figure to compensate someone for the injuries and damage suffered due to the negligence of another person or entity. Each case must be carefully examined for the specific details and damages suffered to determine an appropriate and justified settlement amount. This is why experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyers are vital to the successful resolution of a personal injury claim.