Ankle Injury Settlements in Car Accidents

ankle injury car accidentsIn car accident cases, there are typically relatively “good” settlements on ankle injury cases. For our purposes here, “good” is defined as the probability of getting a reasonable settlement offer before suing.

Why are ankle injury cases easier to settle than other accident claims? But the most obvious explanation is the nature of ankle injuries. With neck and back injuries, which are common car accident injuries, people with the exact same radiological findings can have very different manifestations of pain. Given this, insurance companies tend to assume the lowest level of pain in these types of cases.

In contrast, ankle injuries are far less often the result of degenerative changes and are usually caused by trauma, rarely leading to concerns about preexisting injuries or arthritic changes. Just as importantly, they are typically objective injuries we can see in a radiology report. It also helps in reaching a value of an ankle injury for settlement purposes that the treatment of ankle injuries is generally not as involved as other car accident injuries which decreases the extent of the “you should not have gotten so much treatment” arguments from the insurance company.

Looking for Average Settlement Value of Ankle Injuries

The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog reported on ankle verdicts and settlements in Maryland. A Jury Verdict Research study found that the average ankle injury verdict is $290,130 ($90,000 is the median). Maryland’s median was right on par with the national average at $88,000.

I think this is useful data in determining an appropriate value for an ankle injury settlement. That said, all average verdict data is of questionable usefulness in a given case and ankle injury data is probably even less useful than most other types of car accident injuries. You can drive a truck through the difference in settlement value between a hairline ankle fracture and a crush injury. So, as always, take the ankle verdict data with a grain of salt.

  • Maryland statistics on foot and ankle injury settlements and verdicts along with sample verdicts and settlements in these cases

How Are Ankle Fractures Classified?

There are two commonly used ways to classify ankle fractures: the Weber classification and the Lauge-Hansen classification.

Is the Settlement Value of My Case Higher If I Have a Comminuted Ankle Fracture?

When a fracture is comminuted, i.e. if the structure of the bone is fragmented, displaced, splintered, or separated, those cases are likely to have a higher settlement value than your typical simple fracture, all things being equal.

When Can I Expect in Ankle Fracture Surgery?

The typical surgical treatment of displaced ankle fractures is to wait about a week to let any swelling and bruising at least begin to resolve while keeping the leg splinted and elevated.  So if the bruising and swelling in the ankle during the first 24 hours after an ankle fracture is rather severe, the best path is typically to wait several days before performing the surgery. But science shows that getting surgery sooner rather than later is better.

You should get surgery if you need surgery. Period. But it is a fair question to ask if surgery increased the value of your personal injury claim. It does. Getting surgery has much greater value than “I will get surgery” at some point.

Ankle Injury Definitions

  • Arthroscopy: A lighted telescope that the surgeon puts inside of a joint. This allows the doctor to visualize the inside surface of the ankle, particularly the cartilage surfaces.  The surgeon is often looking for ankle tears in that cartilage surface. She may see arthritic changes or scarred inflammation.
  • Maisonneuve fracture: A proximal fibular fracture associated with a disruption of the joint between the tibia and the fibula down at the ankle
  • Medial malleolus: This is the little bump that you feel on the inner side of your ankle.  In reality, it is a part of your tibia. Fixation of the medial malleolus is crucial for ankle stability after bimalleolar fractures. How do you diagnose a medial malleolus fracture? The surface of the medial malleolus looks smooth on x-ray if there is not a fracture.  A comminution of the medial malleolus will have sharp edges capable of lacerating the surrounding tissue.  It does not help the outcome of the injury if these sharp fragments pierce the skin. The result can be the introduction of bacteria to the fractured bone surfaces.
  • Meniscoid scar: As a result of previous bleeding in the ankle, the ankle forms some extra scar tissue. The scar tissue that forms bumps into the joint and gets trapped between the bones. This can be very painful.
  • Tendon: The soft tissue attaches muscle to bone. An inflamed tendon is called tendonitis.
  • Tibiotalar arthritis: This is ankle arthritis caused by lost cartilage in the ankle joint.
  • Trimalleolar fracture: Ankle fracture when the victim fractures three different areas in your ankle: medial, lateral, and posterior malleoli.