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Your ankles connect your feet to your legs and are the part of your body that supports your weight and keeps you moving. If you have suffered an injury to your ankle you will know all too well the impact that this can have on your life. 

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Ankle injuries at work can happen as a result of something as simple as a slip, trip or fall. According to Safe Work Australia, ankle injuries account for 16.7% of all slip, trip and fall related injuries, and can be caused by environmental hazards (such as poor lighting, or spills), unsuitable footwear, human error, or other factors. Ankle injuries can also happen in car accidents, while out walking in a public place, or while playing sport.

We are going to look at how you can go about claiming compensation for an ankle injury that happened at work, or due to the negligence of someone else. Whether you have an ankle sprain, a broken ankle, ligament or tendon damage, or another type of injury, Murphy’s Law are Brisbane personal injury claims lawyers and can provide legal advice on how to proceed with your claim for pain and suffering and financial loss.

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Common ankle injuries

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The ankle is a hinge joint which connects the bones of the lower leg with the foot, permitting the foot to bend upwards and downwards. An injury to the ankle can happen as a result of damage to the bones, ligaments, tendons or muscle/soft tissue.

Ankle injuries are relatively common in the workplace, but can also happen while exercising or playing sport, or if you are involved in an accident while using the roads, whether to run, walk, cycle, or drive a car or motorbike.

If the ankle is injured it requires time to heal and recover, which often involves bed rest and immobilisation of the joint to permit proper healing without further inflaming the area.

Some of the more common types of ankle (and related area) injuries include:

  • Broken ankles - These types of injuries occur when the ankle suffers trauma of some kind, resulting in the bones in the ankle area or foot to fracture or break. In some cases a broken ankle will require surgery, depending on the nature of the break. Something like a compound fracture, for example, where there is an open ankle wound, would require surgery.
  • Sprained ankles - a sprained ankle can happen when the foot missteps and where there is force to the ankle which causes an excessive range of movement. Sprains can be very painful and often require bed rest.
  • Ankle ligament damage - a painful condition, with one of the most common injuries being to the anterior talofibular ligament, which results in swelling and pain. More severe ligament damage can result in dislocation of the ankle joint.
  • Achilles tendon rupture - often simply called the Achilles, this part of the body connects the calf muscle to the back of the heel. This injury involves a complete or partial tear to this tendon and can result in trouble walking.
  • Tendonitis - this condition is often caused over many years and comes about as a result of strain or overuse of the ankle tendons.
  • Arthritis - a degenerative disease involving the deterioration of cartilage between the bones, this painful inflammatory condition can be caused through years of working in particular environments, and can be exacerbated by certain conditions such as standing or lifting heavy loads.

Common causes of ankle injuries

An ankle injury can happen in any number of ways. You could be walking to walk and trip on a raised piece of pavement, rolling your ankle and hurting muscle or ligaments in the process. Or you might fall off a ladder or scaffold at work and hit the ground, resulting in a broken bone. 

Of the many ways these injuries occur, the inescapable fact is that ankle injuries often require medical treatment and can require time off work (and life) as you recover. 

Some of the common causes of ankle injuries include:

  • Slips and falls on wet or slippery surfaces - it is so easy to slip or fall on an uneven surface, especially if the area is wet, slippery or otherwise unsafe in some way. The workplace should be safe from hazards such as these, but if your workplace has in some way contributed to your ankle injury, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your loss. These can also happen due to slippery falls in public places such as grocery stores and shopping malls.
  • Impact from falling off a motorcycle or bicycle - these types of injuries can happen in seemingly innocent ways; you step off your motorbike or bicycle and land on uneven ground - before you know it you are slipping over and the bike is coming with you! In other cases if you have an accident and are thrown off your bike you can suffer serious injury to your ankles. If your motorbike or bicycle accident happens as a result of someone else’s negligence you may be able to claim for general damages.
  • Falling from a height - using ladders and scaffolding at work is a risk, and if you have fallen from a height you can suffer injury to your ankles including breaks and sprains. You are entitled to a safe working environment, so if your ankle injury happens at work and your workplace was not safe you may be able to claim compensation for a broken ankle or sprain, or whatever your injury is.
  • Carrying heavy items - lifting heavy items can put a strain on the ankles, especially if doing so on uneven surfaces such as across a construction site.
  • Crush injuries - crush injuries occur when the ankle is trapped between two objects, resulting in painful damage to the ankle. Crush injuries can happen on industrial sites, while working on mining sites, in construction and a range of other industries. 

Broken ankle compensation

Broken ankles are difficult to recover from for a variety of reasons; but mainly as the ankle is a delicate area and requires correct setting of bones and treatment to ensure that you do not suffer complications later in life. A broken ankle generally requires immobilisation, and then the use of a cast or ‘moon boot’ to ensure stability in the joint while the ankle heals. 

Recovery may also require physiotherapy to ensure the muscles around the joint are strong enough to ensure a repeat injury does not occur. If your broken ankle has been set incorrectly and causes you pain, you may even have a claim for medical negligence. Speak to our personal injury solicitor team about how we can help.

Ankle fusion compensation

Ankle fusion is a very specific form of treatment whereby the foot and lower leg are fused using fixation devices which could be a combination of pins and rods. This type of surgery is often required where a person suffers deterioration in the joint due to arthritis or a type of injury where the ankle joint has been shattered and cannot be fixed. 

If your injury was caused by negligence and caused a past and/or future loss of earnings then you may be entitled to compensation. Having a free initial chat with our experts will provide more information specific to your situation.

Ankle sprain compensation

An ankle sprain ranges from mild to severe - with the mild requiring some minor rest and recovery, and a severe sprain resulting in physiotherapy and a longer term of recuperation. If you have injured your ankle at work, it is worth opening a WorkCover claim even if you only have a couple of days off work, as this claim will also assist with medical expenses and any financial loss due to being unable to work. 

Speak to our personal injury lawyers about your ankle sprain injury if you are wondering if it is worth commencing a claim for compensation.

Ankle ligament damage compensation

Ligaments are the things that hold our muscles and bones together and keep our feet and ankles moving. If you have damaged a ligament, you may require surgery to ensure a full recovery. 

The amount of downtime you have from ankle ligament damage can range from short to longer term, always depending on the severity of your injury. If your ligaments have been damaged in a workplace accident, or through an accident that was not your fault, you can commence a WorkCover claim or a claim for compensation.

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Claims for ankle injuries that happen in the course of work are possible regardless of fault with WorkCover. It is simply a process of reporting your injury to your employer at the first opportunity, seeking medical treatment, and then advising WorkCover of your intention to claim within six months of your injury taking place.

If your injury has come about where there was negligence of your employer or another party (say for example you were involved in a car accident) then you can speak to our work accident lawyers about how to start a no win no fee claim.

High risks jobs for ankle injuries 

  • Warehouse workers - injuries can come in several ways when working in a warehouse. You could injure your ankle in a slip or fall, or by falling from heights; for example by getting items from high shelving. Broken bones and crush injuries are also sadly too common and come about through impact with moving objects.
  • Construction workers - those working from heights and required to walk on uneven surfaces are most at risk - so scaffolders, carpenters, construction site workers, and anyone else who is working at heights.
  • Retail and hospitality workers - walking on wet or slippery surfaces is all part of the job for a hospitality worker which means that the risk of an ankle injury is ever-present. Retail workers are on their feet most of the day as well and are often dealing with inventory which is stacked up on shelves - resulting in a risk for ankle injuries.
  • Truck drivers - while seated for much of the job, truck drivers are at risk of tripping or falling from the cab or suffering an injury while loading or unloading goods.

How are ankle injury claims calculated?

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A claim for ankle injury compensation looks at the way in which your injury has impacted on your life and seeks to place you in a position - at least financially - as if the injury had not occurred.

What this means is that any reasonable costs associated with your ankle injury are calculated and then a final figure is arrived at, taking into consideration medical expenses, ongoing rehabilitation treatment, potentially for personal care, financial loss (such as lost earnings, superannuation, or future earning capacity), pain and suffering, and any other associated and reasonable losses.

Speak to our personal injury lawyers for more information about how your ankle injury claim is calculated and to find out how we can help you commence your no win no fee claim for compensation.

What are the time limits for ankle injury claims?

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There is a specific period you have in which to commence your claim for compensation for an ankle injury. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have three years in which to commence your claim. 

However, there are other time limits which are associated with these types of claims, so it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you can pursue your claim successfully.

If you are making a claim for WorkCover you must advise your employer at the earliest opportunity, and then advise WorkCover within six months of your injury of your intention to claim. Read more about time limits for specific claim types

Posted by Chris McMahon Special Counsel

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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