Ankle injuries stand as one of the most frequent musculoskeletal injuries treated by primary care physicians around the world.
In the UK, it is estimated that over a million people visit hospitals each year with minor, moderate or severe ankle-related injuries, with annual broken ankle cases recorded in the tens of thousands.
Unlike a sprained ankle, where the appropriate amount of rest and painkillers will usually lead to a full recovery, a fractured or broken ankle is a much more severe injury.
To begin with, you will be unable to stand or walk in the weeks following a broken ankle. Once you can bear some weight through the joint, you might require several weeks of physiotherapy to return the injured ankle to full mobility.
Besides the significant effect this type of injury has on your daily life, you are also likely to need considerable time off work and may suffer financial losses as a result.
It can be difficult and costly to recover from a broken ankle. However, if the injury was not your fault and was in fact caused by someone else’s actions or negligence, you have the right to file a broken ankle/ankle injury compensation claim against them.
This can help to ease the financial burden and go some way towards compensating for the pain and suffering you have endured.
In this guide you’ll find out:
How long it takes to recover from the different types of ankle injury – and how this affects your claim, who you can claim against, the steps you need to take to make a claim, and what the two different types of compensation available are.
Types Of Broken Ankle Injury
A break/fracture on any of the three bones making up the ankle joint classifies as a broken ankle.
Since there are several bones in the joint, broken ankle injuries occur in all manner of forms. There could be a simple break in just one bone, multiple fractures of the bones, a dislocated bone, and in extreme cases there could be splintering of the ankle bones, crush injuries or bone fragments piercing the skin.
Medically speaking, there are several different types of ankle breaks, dependent upon the area of the fracture. For instance, a lateral malleolus fracture is a type of break that occurs at the bottom of the fibula. This is the most common type of ankle break and involves the bony protrusion on the outside of the ankle.
However, a bimalleolar ankle fracture is a kind of break involving both the tibia and fibula, where injury happens to both the inner and outer side of the ankle. This is the second most common type of ankle break and almost always requires surgery to stabilise and repair the joint.
Ultimately, the severity and type of injury suffered will determine the right course of treatment, how long it will take to recover from, and how much compensation you could be entitled to.
Treatment Options For A Broken Ankle
Before deciding on a course of treatment, a doctor will first assess and determine how bad the break is. This would usually begin with a physical exam of the ankle, followed by an X-ray.
The X-ray machine helps to visualize most fractures (complete or partial break), whilst a CT or MRI scan may also be necessary to show any damage to the surrounding ligaments or evidence injury details that may be too small to be captured by an x-ray, such as a hairline fracture.
Minor ankle fractures often present with the same symptoms as a sprained ankle (i.e. pain at the ankle, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and inability to bear weight). This is why it is so important to seek medical attention, to ensure you have the correct diagnosis and course of treatment.
With minor cases, the application of a cast or splints is usually necessary to hold the affected bone in place. If there is a dislocation in the joint which a doctor feels can be manually corrected, they will carry out a ‘reduction’ procedure, which manipulates the bones back into alignment.
However, in the case of a severe ankle injury, surgery is the most likely course of treatment. Symptoms of severe ankle injuries include intense pain (that gets worse with time and sometimes radiates up the leg and knee), a protruding bone, or a foot hanging at an odd angle.
These types of injuries are likely to have been emergencies, so a hospital is the best place to get the right diagnosis and treatment you need, which may require internal pins and plates to stabilise the joint.
After surgery, a patient will be fitted with a fractured ankle cast. This will immobilise the joint, minimise the pain and give the broken bones time to mend. Healing can take anywhere between 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the patient’s age, general health and physical state.
After that, the cast can come off and the patient then goes through a programme of rehabilitation and physiotherapy. This would usually take a further 1-2 months on average, but could be more depending on the individual.
Making a Broken Ankle Compensation Claim
Broken ankle injuries often result from a slip, trip or fall accident where you end up twisting, rolling, or rotating your ankle beyond its limits or land awkwardly on your ankle joint. However, injures may also be caused by other incidents, such as a road traffic accident or an assault.
It could be that someone left something out that was not supposed to be there, which caused a hazard and you tripped over, breaking your ankle. Or perhaps there was a dangerously uneven pavement or unmarked hazard that caused you to fall.
Essentially, the law requires you to demonstrate that the liable party was legally responsible for your safety, but neglected that responsibility and put you in harms way.
Another thing you will need to prove is that the negligence of duty directly resulted in the accident, which caused your broken ankle.
This part is a little tricky to determine, since you have to show that the responsible party not only neglected their duty, but also failed to alert you to the situation.
For example, the presence of a sign warning you of a wet floor in a supermarket or road construction up ahead negates your right for filing a claim. In this case, you will be considered at fault for not paying attention to your surroundings.
Who Can You Claim Against?
Since there are many circumstances in which an ankle can suffer a fracture injury, you can file a compensation claim against anyone who was responsible for your injury. The most common liable parties for a broken ankle injury include:
1 Local Authority
Your local council is legally required to keep public places such as pavements, streets and government premises safe. So, when an injury occurs in public areas, you can bring a claim against your local council.
2 Building Owners
You will also be entitled to a compensation claim if the injury occurred in privately owned areas. Much like the local council, any individual, company, or business premise offering services to the public (retail store, restaurant, supermarket, hotel, flat building, etc.) is required to ensure public safety at all times.
Ankle injuries can also occur by way of road accidents (e.g. from getting hit by a car or from the impact of a car crash). In such cases, you can bring a lawsuit against the individual who is directly responsible for the accident.
An unprovoked fight at a bar or attack on the street, which results in a broken ankle, can also qualify for a compensation claim.
As per the law set out by the Health & Safety Executive, all employers have a legal obligation to keep the workplace in a safe and maintained state of repair.
Therefore, this means employers can be found culpable for a broken ankle injury if they put their employees to work in accident-prone environments, or fail to take precautionary measures to prevent possible work-related accidents.
5 Medical Practitioners
If you are dealing with a broken ankle that is not healing well, it may be possible to file for compensation if the lack of recovery is due to a late diagnosis or an incorrect/poorly administered medical treatment.
What Can You Do To Help Your Case?
After suffering an ankle injury, the most important thing to do is have a doctor check you out.
If possible, do the following things as well. The sooner you take action (preferably immediately after suffering an injury), the better.
Capture the cause of the accident on photos. This could be a pothole on the street, a cracked/loose paving slab, a crate left in the way at the supermarket, a poorly installed floor in your home, and so on.
Check For Witnesses
If any are around, get their contact details if they are willing to support you, as they can offer vital eyewitness testimonies if the case goes to court.
Report The Injury
Report the injury to the relevant party (store manager, a council member, your landlord, etc.). The liable party may be willing to cover your medical bills and compensate you for any hardships brought on by the injury if they accept the injury was their fault.
Informing them about your accident will open the door for this, however, do not accept any settlement offers without first consulting with a solicitor.
It is also helpful to start writing a journal regarding the accident. Capture all the details leading up to and after the injury, because this will be very useful for reference purposes later if your case takes some time to resolve.
Don’t just rely on your memory, as this can fade and be distorted with time. A written account of the incident, injury and treatment journey may be given in evidence and work in your favour.
What Can You Claim For In A Broken Ankle Personal Injury Suit?
As is usual with any lawsuit involving personal injury, settlement pay-outs for a broken ankle considers two areas of compensation. These include:
1 General Damages
Aside from the obvious pain, a broken ankle can have other devastating impacts on a person’s life.
For instance, they may have to stay off the injured foot for many weeks, preventing them from being able to do all the things they used to do before. Compensation can be sought for this loss of amenity (quality of life).
Other times a broken ankle injury can leave the victim with temporary or permanent disabilities, such as difficulty walking. Pain and suffering experienced due to the injury also qualifies for compensation under the general damages heading.
With a broken ankle being the most severe of ankle injuries, the awarded compensation for general damages can be quite high, ranging from around £10,000 to £65,000. Naturally, the exact amount you will be entitled to will be wholly determined by how bad your individual injury was.
This could include the type of break you suffered, the extent of tissue or ligament damage, whether surgery was required and whether there are any long-standing deformations or disabilities resulting from the injury. It may also take into account any psychological damage suffered.
2 Special Damages
Special damages are less complex to quantify, since this compensation category is intended to refund any financial losses you have suffered due to the injury, thereby returning you to the financial state you were in beforehand. The amount of special damages is arrived at by factoring in:
Any treatment costs you have personally paid out due to the injury, for example prescription drugs, travel costs to and from medical appointments, private physiotherapy sessions or perhaps medical consultancy fees.
Any loss of earnings from having to take time off work to rest your foot or attending medical appointments etc. In fact, dependent on the severity of the break and long term prognosis, there may be a ‘future loss of earnings’ element, if you can no longer work or can only manage a lesser paid role.
Broken Ankle Compensation: Summary
If you feel you have a valid claim for broken ankle compensation after reading this article, we suggest you find out where you legally stand, by contacting a claims advisor or experienced personal injury solicitor.
If you believe someone else was responsible for causing the injury, seek further advice and see if you can make a claim.
Most solicitors offer a no win-no fee arrangement, so if they confirm you have a valid case and you agree for them to represent you, their legal fees will only be due if you win the case and will be deducted from the final settlement figure, rather than you having to pay up-front.
Your lawyer can take care of all the other legal aspects of the case, but it is important to note there is a time limit for bringing forth a claim, which currently stands at 3-years from the date of the accident or from when you were made aware of your broken ankle diagnosis.
There are some exceptions to this, however, as you only have 2-years to claim if the injury occurred inside a plane, and if the victim was a minor then a claim can be made up to 3-years after they turn 18 years old.