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Foot & Ankle Injuries in Motor Vehicle Accidents

anatomical drawing of foot and ankle

Even in the mildest of car accidents, it’s likely one or more people involved will sustain injuries. These injuries can impact the day-to-day living for victims and their families long after the initial impact. Injuries to the lower extremities (including foot and ankle injuries) are the second most common class of injuries in motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, right foot injuries are more common than left. This is simply the result of a driver loading his or her weight on the brake pedal attempting to stop. The speed at which the car was traveling is now absorbed by the body, with the feet at the forefront.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

It’s important to understand the system of joints and bones that keeps us mobile. Three bones meet at the ankle, held together by elastic connective tissue called ligaments. Ligaments keep the bones in place while moving the ankle. Similarly, both the feet and ankle have tendons whose job is to attach muscles to bone. Tendons and ligaments work together to provide a full range of motion.

Foot and ankle injuries are classified under three general groups:

  • Strains – Damage to muscles or tendons from being overstretched. These injuries are more frequently associated with the back and legs, but the tendons which stabilize the ankle are just as susceptible- albeit smaller.
  • Sprains – A sprain refers to damage to the ligaments. Similar to strains, this injury occurs when the overstretched tissue is inflamed and destabilizes the ankle.
  • Fractures – Also known as a broken bone, fractures in the foot or ankle can immobilize a person entirely unless the bone can heal. In many cases, fractures heal themselves over time with the use of a cast. However, in more severe instances, the bones cannot heal on their own and need to be replaced. Fractures are likely to have the longest-lasting impact on a person’s life.

Each joint, bone and connective tissue has an important role to play. When a sudden trauma (such as a car accident) breaks or strains even one part, a person’s overall mobility is impacted. Devastating wrecks wherein the feet and ankles are crushed might lead to life-long pain and permanent physical disabilities.


There are many symptoms that indicate a foot and ankle injury.

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Cannot put weight on the foot
  • Clearly dislocated joints or bones

In any wreck, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. Only a medical professional can provide a proper diagnosis, but there are certainly many indicators anyone can recognize.


If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for a series of damages. Of course, every case is different. Personal injury settlements typically include compensatory damages, or funds supplied to “compensate” for monetary damages.

Our firm has recovered extensive compensatory damages for things such as medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering for personal injury victims. The scope of damages can, however, extend to include mental anguish, future medical bills like home health care, and the impact on future wages.

Less common in personal injury cases are, punitive damages, which aim to punish the negligent party. The victim must prove the behavior of the negligent party was grossly negligent (a conscious disregard or indifference to the safety of others).

Commercial Motor Vehicles vs Personal Vehicles

The negligent party’s background influences the personal injury settlement as well. Personal vehicles, such as a passenger vehicles, generally remain a private matter between the drivers and their insurance companies. Examples of commercial motor vehicles include semi-trucks or large vehicles used for professional purposes. The insurance policy limits are much higher for these vehicles and the chain of responsibility goes beyond the driver like in the case of a personal vehicle.

The company that employs the at-fault truck driver will also be under the scope of investigation. For example, if a company failed to comply with state or federal regulations in truck handling and operation, they may owe damages.

Representation for Foot and Ankle Injuries

For a legal team you can trust, contact the experienced attorneys at Maginnis Howard. Our firm’s foot and ankle injury attorneys have litigated complex cases. We have recovered millions for victims of negligent drivers of both private and corporate vehicles.

We have three conveniently located offices across North Carolina in Charlotte, Raleigh, and Fayetteville. Visit our contact page to reach our intake staff and set up a free consultation.