One of the most common orthopedic injuries our personal injury lawyers see in slip and fall cases are broken ankle.
Not sprained. Not bruised. Broken ankles. Like the ankles when you fall you may hear a snap, crackle or pop; but in a bad way and not in the breakfast cereal type of way.
A broken ankle injury is very serious. Think about it for a moment.
When you stand, pressure is applied to your ankle.
When you walk, your ankle needs to flex. When you rotate, jump, bend, kneel; all of these movements puts pressure and strain on your ankle.
If your ankle goes in to a hard plaster cast, you’re out of commission. You can’t walk, run, or jump. Your doctor will recommend that you are non weight bearing. That means you’re not to put weight or pressure on your ankle. Translation: no walking or putting pressure on the ankle. Or if you are getting around, you will need to do so with crutches, a wheelchair, or one of those scooters you may see that allows you to raise an ankle while rolling around.
It’s very important to listen to your doctors’ advice during the healing period. If your doctor tells you to stay off your feet, then stay off your feet.
What happens if you don’t stay off your feet? There can be medical repercussions such as your foot/ankle not healing properly resulting in long term gait or weight bearing problems.
You may develop post traumatic arthritis. You may develop significant scar tissue from not giving the tissue in the ankle region time to heal or strengthen. You may require surgery to because the broken ankle isn’t setting or healing as it should.
All of these options are terrible and aren’t synonymous with having a healthy, flexible and strong ankle.
Failing to bide by doctors’ orders will also have a significant impact on your case. Every Plaintiff in a personal injury case (regardless of the cause of injury or the sort of injury) has a duty to mitigate their losses.
That means they can’t just sit back, ignore doctors orders and hope to get paid out on the claim. Plaintiffs need to actively try to get back to health and heal. That not only means participating in active forms of recommended treatment such as exercise, physiotherapy, massage therapy etc., but also following doctors’ orders like strengthening exercises, range or motion exercises and staying off your feet where your doctor has recommended to be non weight bearing.
If you are failing to follow your doctors orders, they have ways to find out. If your doctor has recommended that you stay off of your feet, but you aren’t, they will hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance of you walking/standing/running to discredit you and your case.
The lawyer for the Defendant insurer will then argue that not only are you not mitigating your losses; but you are also making your injuries WORSE by failing to follow your doctors’ orders! They will refuse to pay out for any prolonged damages, injuries or losses beyond a certain period on account of your non-compliance. They will hire a Defendant doctor (likely an orthopedic surgeon) to state that but for your non compliance, your injuries would have completely healed within 3-8 months (or some other small range). The Defendant insurer will then attempt to frame a narrative that if damages are owing to the Plaintiff, those damages should be limited to the time period recommended by their doctor because the Plaintiff made their injuries much worse by failing to listen to their doctors’ recommendations.
Here’s something else which insurer’s love to do. It’s criticize the footwear which you were wearing at the time of the slip and fall. I have never met an insurance defence lawyer who concedes that the footwear which the Plaintiff was wearing at the time of his/her fall was appropriate for the weather conditions.
Sandals in the summer? Not enough ankle support.
Running shoes on a rainy day? Should have been wearing rain boots.
Loafers in the winter? Not good footwear for snow and ice.
High heels for a night out on the town? Not low enough to the ground.
Flats for a night out on the town? Too low to the ground and not sturdy enough.
Winter boots on a winter day? The tread was used and worn.
Barefoot? Should have been wearing shoes!
You get the picture. It’s easy to be critical. Hindsight is always 20/20. Insurance lawyers will seek to blame you for wearing improper or inappropriate footwear for an accident caused by the negligence of a property owner Defendant in order to pass the blame buck along or seek a set off for contributory negligence. We see this concept in most, if not all of our broken ankle slip and fall cases. It’s a normal defense tactic which Plaintiffs should get familiar with. This is something which your personal injury lawyer can discuss with you at the outset of the case, or as the case progresses. Insurers will stop at nothing to minimize their exposure and seek to deflect liability off their clients and on to another party; even an innocent Plaintiff.
One final thing we would like to mention for ankle fracture cases we have seen. Everyone heals differently. Some people are more susceptible to post traumatic pain and arthritis than others. We tend to see that younger people heal better than older people. Older people may take longer to heal, or may heal differently. Either way, the road to recovery following an ankle fracture can be a long and vigorous one with plenty of ups and downs. The most important thing to do is to stay focused and to stay positive. You won’t recover in a single day following a traumatic ankle fracture. The follow up appointments at the fracture clinic may be plentiful and span over a long period of time. Do your best to follow doctors orders, attend treatment (when recommended) and stay positive.