Visitor Question

What to do about a broken ankle requiring emergency surgery?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Las Vegas, Nevada)

I was shopping at the outlet mall during Christmas and broke three bones in my right ankle. It happened when I was heading to my car in an underground parking lot. There were 4 stairs that were not visible, well I didn’t see them, and so I fell and broke my ankle.

I was rushed to a hospital and they admitted me to have emergency surgery the next day. I’m now out of work and seeing the doctor tomorrow to take my staples out and place me a cast. I’m in a lot of pain. What can I do? Thank you.

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.


Dear Anonymous,

Under the legal concept of premises liability, a property (premises) owner and/or manager has a legal duty to do everything within reason to make their premises safe for all people, including shoppers, who are legally upon the premises.

Making the property safe might include proper lighting in the garage and its stairwells, clearly marked signs for exiting and entering the garage, providing security personnel when necessary, properly placed and accessible fire extinguishers, and the like.

A property owner’s duty is said to be a “reasonable” one. This means the owner or manager is not required to do everything to protect those on the premises, but everything which is reasonable.

For example, it would be reasonable for the owner/manager of a shopping mall to make sure snow and ice be removed from outdoor stairwells daily, perhaps several times per day. However it would be unreasonable for the owner of a mall with a dozen or more stairwells, to have an employee stationed in each one, all day, removing every snow flake as it fell. This is especially true as most shopping malls are open seven days a week.

In your case, if you slipped and fell because the stairwell was improperly lit, so as to make it almost impossible for you to have seen the steps,  you would have the basis of a legitimate personal injury claim. Or if there was evidence snow or ice had accumulated on the steps and was left there for most of the day, and the snow made it impossible to see the steps, then you would likely have the basis of an injury claim.

However, if you were distracted while on your cell phone, or you were not paying attention to the steps, or in any other manner contributed to your fall, then your claim would be compromised by your own negligence.

Many large shopping malls have on-premise management/leasing offices. If not, you may able to find owner/management information labeled at the entrances and exits of the mall. If that doesn’t work, go in and ask any of the shop owners for contact information for the mall’s owner or management company.

Contact them and give them the date and time you were injured, and the reasons you believe you were injured. They will likely refer your claim to their insurance company. Once they do, you will be contacted by a claims adjuster from the insurance company and your claim will be set in process.

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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) 647-2490.

Best of luck,


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