Visitor Question

Trip and fall with ankle fractures – what will workers’ comp pay?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Fresno, California)

I’m a nurse. During an emergency code blue in my department, after calling for help, I was rushing back to the patient to initiate CPR  when I inverted my ankle and fell to the floor in pain.

I went to ER for X-rays, then workers’ comp sent me for more for more X-rays, then I had a CT scan that revealed avulsion fractures.

The floor where I fell has some raised patches where moisture is seeping in under the linoleum. I can’t be sure that contributed or just that I was rushing during an emergency.

I’m currently waiting to see an orthopedic surgeon. Walking in a boot is exacerbating a preexisting injury on other ankle.

Do I expect all my medical to be taken care of? I now cannot continue my usual exercise routines, and had to cancel my vacation plans. I’m just wanting to make sure I don’t get walked all over by my employer.

Thank you for telling me what I can expect from workers’ comp.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for the excellent question. Per California workers’ comp laws, you’ll likely receive compensation for the medical expenses you incurred because of your injured ankle. You can also receive compensation for lost work wages you suffered because of your injury.

California’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits

On-the-job ankle injuries are eligible for coverage by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.

In California, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) is responsible for handling workers’ comp issues and claims.

Per DIR rules, injured workers are entitled to the following benefits:

  • Medical Care – Paid for by your employer to help you recover from an injury or illness caused by work.
  • Temporary Disability Benefits – Payments if you lose wages because your injury prevents you from doing your usual job while recovering.
  • Permanent Disability Benefits – Payments if you don’t recover completely and your injury causes a permanent loss of physical or mental function that a doctor can measure.
  • Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit – A voucher to help pay for retraining or skill enhancement if you are eligible to receive permanent disability benefits, your employer doesn’t offer you work, and you don’t return to work for your employer.
  • Death Benefits – Payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents if you die from a job injury or illness.¹

Based on the facts presented in your post, you appear to be eligible for all medical care that was required to treat your injured ankle and the wages you lost because of your accident.

Note that there are some limitations under a state’s workers’ compensation insurance system. Namely, financial compensation is largely limited to partial wages and approved medical costs.

There is also no compensation for a worker’s pain and suffering.

Suing an Employer

Given the limits with workers’ compensation benefits, many injured workers ask if they can file a lawsuit against their employer to maximize their compensation.

Unfortunately, workers’ compensation laws almost always prohibit injured workers from suing an employer, even in cases of employer negligence.

An exception is made when the employer engages in intentional or egregious (deliberate or exceptionally bad) conduct.

To show that an employer engaged in intentional or egregious conduct, an employee must prove the employer’s actions were deliberate and certain to result in the employee’s injuries.

We mention these rules because your email states that your accident took place on some water-damaged patches of flooring.

If somehow you can use this information to show that your employer acted egregiously, then you might recover compensation for your pain and suffering.

This recovery could include payment for:

  • The pain you’re suffering because of your preexisting injury
  • The inability to exercise
  • Your canceled vacation plans

To show an egregious act, you’ll have to show, at a minimum, that the hospital was aware of the damaged flooring, knew someone was likely to get hurt,  but intentionally chose not to do anything about it.

You might have a difficult time proving this. For this reason, we recommend contacting a local personal injury attorney for help.

A local attorney is better positioned to determine if there’s enough evidence to support a negligence lawsuit against your employer. An injury lawyer can also help by researching California case law for similar cases where an employer was found to have acted egregiously.

Learn more here: Ankle Injuries at Work

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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