Ankles are quite vulnerable because of where they are in the body, how much they are used, and how much weight is constantly put on them. It is not surprising that ankles are subject to so many injuries, including muscle sprains and ankle fractures.
The ankle joint is actually made of three different ankle bones:
- The tibia or shin bone is the largest bone in your lower leg.
- The fibula or calf bone is the smaller bone in your lower leg.
- The talus is the small bone that you will find between the heel bone and the tibia and fibula.
Difference Between a Break and an Ankle Sprain
A sprain happens when ligaments tear or stretch, as opposed to a break where the bone is fractured. In order to tell the difference between the different types of ankle injuries, the doctor might do several things:
- A physical exam, where the doctor looks and feels for swelling or discoloration
- X-rays, so the doctor can see where and how the bone is fractured
- A stress test, where the doctor puts pressure on the ankle and then takes an x-ray to see if surgery is necessary
- A CT scan to get better pictures of the broken bone
- An MRI scan so the doctor can see breaks that don’t show up in the x-rays and also the surrounding soft tissue damage.
Most Common Causes of Ankle Fractures
Because of the vulnerable position they occupy in the body, ankles are vulnerable to accidents from many sources.
Slip and fall accidents can damage your ankle when you place your weight wrong after you lose your balance. This might happen if you are walking on a carpet where a piece is sticking up or if there are obstructions in your path.
A heavy impact can cause an injury, such as from a jump or fall, or while playing sports. You can suffer a broken or sprained ankle from any kind of heavy impact.
You can injure your ankle in a car accident because of the sudden, high impact of the crash. Broken ankles from car crashes may require surgery to repair.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Just because you are still able to walk doesn’t mean that you don’t have an ankle fracture. With a minor fracture, you may be able to walk, but it will be painful. Unless you actually hear the cracking noise when your bone breaks, you may not be sure you have a broken ankle.
Some of the signs of a fractured ankle include swelling, tenderness, bruising, and difficulty moving your foot or putting your weight on it. You will probably be experiencing severe pain, and may even feel dizzy.
If you have a compound fracture, you may see the bone coming through the skin. If you were in a motor vehicle accident, you might not realize your ankle is injured at first, especially if you are transported to the hospital and treated for other injuries, like cuts and back injury.
Treatment for Broken Ankles
The first treatment for broken ankles and other similar kinds of injuries is ice, which will immediately help to reduce the swelling and pain. Wrap the ice close to your injury with a towel and change it as necessary.
Sometimes the bone has moved out of place, and the doctor does what is called a closed reduction to move it back into place, hopefully giving you a painkiller such as general anesthesia or a sedative first.
If your ankle bones are seriously injured, you may need to have surgery before you do anything else. Severe breaks might even require you to get rods, screws, or plates to align the bones and keep them in place as you heal. This process involves open reduction and internal fixation. You may need an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in ankle injuries.
You may get an ankle boot, cast, or splint to help keep the bones in place as you heal. You may even get crutches to help you continue to get around. If you didn’t need surgery, you might be able to recover in as little as six weeks, but if you had surgery, your recovery time could last up to 12 weeks or even longer.
At that point, it all depends on you and your body, including factors like your general health and age. Your doctor may take x-rays while you are recovering to check on your progress.
Tips for Getting Better Faster
You may be able to reduce your own recovery time if you follow some easy tips. Rest your injury as much as possible, and avoid putting pressure on it. Get physical therapy if your doctor recommends it and eat healthy foods. Avoid smoking and attend all follow-up appointments with your doctor.
Preventing Broken Ankles
Accidents will happen, but there are ways to minimize the likelihood of getting a broken ankle. On a daily basis, the best way to protect your ankle bones is by wearing supportive shoes, and use other appropriate kinds of shoes when engaging in other activities, like hiking.
If you run, replace your running shoes about every 300 to 400 miles, and replace your other shoes as they become worn.
Cross-training and strength training can help build bone density, helping to reduce stress fractures. No matter what kind of workout you do, start slowly to give your body time to warm up.
Make sure you get plenty of Vitamin D and Calcium to build your bone strength and take Vitamin D supplements if you don’t get enough in your diet. Keep clutter to a minimum in your home and office, so you don’t trip or turn your ankles, and finally, if you need extra help, ask your doctor for supplements or special strength training exercises.
One important way to avoid certain kinds of injuries is to be careful with your small children. Children are particularly vulnerable because they ride in car seats and booster seats, suffering serious injuries and even fatalities when the seats are improperly installed or not used properly. They can’t help themselves, so you have to stay vigilant.
Should You File a Lawsuit?
Whether or not you file a lawsuit is up to you. If you have medical expenses or damages that are not being paid through your insurance company, though, you may want to file a compensation claim to get the compensation you deserve.
You can ask for any reasonable expenses from the accident, including:
- All your medical bills, including medical treatment, medicine, physical therapy, and anything else you needed to recover from the injury
- Damages to your vehicle, if you suffered the injuries during an auto accident
- Time off from work, for the accident, doctor and therapy appointments, and even future losses because of permanent or long-term injuries
- Pain and suffering, including quality of life and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Any other reasonable expenses
It costs nothing to talk to a personal injury lawyer and present your circumstances during a free consultation. The attorney-client relationship will keep the attorney from sharing the information with anyone else, so you can feel safe looking for advice. You can find out whether you really have a personal injury case and the best way to proceed.
Many cases are from negligence during an auto accident, while others ankle injury cases involve premises liability. Anyone who owns or runs a business has the responsibility to keep that business safe for visitors, and you have the right to ask for compensation if their negligence caused you harm.
Original Settlement Demands
If you have decided to ask for reasonable compensation, your first step will be to send a demand letter.
Whether you are trying to handle it yourself or using the services of a personal injury lawyer, it is important to remember to state that the settlement amount you are asking for is “For Settlement Purposes Only.”
Otherwise, the insurance company could try to hold a low number against you later and try to make the settlement value lower.
Even if you have prepared the letter yourself, you can ask us at the law firm of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience to look over your letter for you before you send it. The insurance company may or may not respond, but we can help you look for any issues.
The Settlement Process and Timeline
Once you and the other party have agreed to a reasonable settlement, you will still have to wait before you get your check.
Your first step will be to consult with your attorney and sign the paperwork, making sure the terms and conditions are what you agreed to. Once the insurance company gets the paperwork, they don’t have to mail the check right away. It usually takes about three weeks for processing, and your attorney can check if there seems to be a delay.
Once your attorney receives the check, the funds will be deposited into a special lawyers’ trust account, where it will clear. Once the funds are available, your attorney will make sure all the liens are paid first, such as for medical treatment you received. The State may take out certain sums of money if you owe back child support or taxes.
Finally, the attorney takes his fees and sends you the balance. The reason extra funds are built into the settlement is so you will have money at the end.
Don’t forget that injury claims must usually be filed within two years, although there are some exceptions. If you file past the deadline, you may lose your case completely. If you can’t get satisfaction with a settlement, you may decide to file a lawsuit.
Steps in Filing a Suit By Yourself
There are several steps you will need to take to file a lawsuit, and you can ask for the assistance of an attorney at any stage during the process.
- Research your case, including looking up any applicable laws that might apply to your case.
- Choose the court, depending on how much you are asking for and where you are located.
- Fill out the court forms.
- Write out the actual claim, explaining why you think you deserve the money.
- Sign and date your paperwork.
- Summon the defendant to court. Without notice, the defendant can refuse to pay even if you win a default judgment.
Steps When Using an Attorney
When you have an attorney, you can avoid a lot of the work. Attorneys will investigate the case, research the legal issues, and do the legal paperwork.
Here are the steps you will take when you have an attorney for your personal injury lawsuit:
- First, you will meet with the attorney for a free consultation so you can explain the situation, such as whether you have serious injuries or if there were witnesses.
- Second, the attorney will investigate the case, gathering the police report, medical records, and other important information.
- Your personal injury lawyer will prepare the demand package.
- Your discovery will assist with discovery and mediation, where you may have to answer questions and follow certain rules.
- If there is no settlement, your attorney will be there with you if you go to trial.
Some Ankle Injury Settlements
How much money you get will depend on several factors, such as how serious the injuries were and how much treatment you needed. Here are some examples of real settlements:
- A man who suffered a broken ankle and foot in a motorcycle accident caused by a drunk driver received a $50,000 settlement.
- A 70-year-old woman who fractured her right ankle in Pennsylvania while being helped into an SUV received $150,000 in a settlement. She required multiple surgeries to heal her ankle.
- A 10-year-old girl received $10,000 in a premises liability suit against the school when she tripped and broke her ankle.
- Another premises liability suit in California ended with a $175,000 settlement to a 72-year-old female who slipped and fractured her ankle when debris was left on her stairs.
How to Find the Right Personal Injury Attorney
If you’re like most people, you haven’t had to deal with attorneys very much before, if at all. You can narrow down your search by choosing the kind of lawyer who handles your kind of cases, in this case, a personal injury attorney or law firm.
Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience is a small, family-owned personal injury law firm that has experience in all kinds of cases but has particular skills in the area of personal injury law. If you or a loved one has experienced an injury from an accident caused by someone else, you can call for a free consultation at any time.
At Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience, we have proudly served our community for 60 years, and we can assist accident victims in and around Mesa, Arizona.