On September 8, 2001, the plaintiff stood up to leave an outdoor screen house that was on the property of the defendants. After taking a step or two she immediately tripped and fell to the ground. She suffered a comminuted trimalleolar fracture of the left ankle with extensive ligament damage. Closed reduction was attempted on September 8, 2001, but failed. Consequently, open reduction surgery was performed.
Following her discharge from Raritan Bay Medical Center, the plaintiff remained under the care of her orthopedic surgeon. Because of the severity of her injuries, the plaintiff was unable to begin physical therapy until January 2002. Even then, she remained in an air cast splint and still had to utilize crutches to ambulate. The plaintiff was only able to begin weaning herself off of crutches in February 2002, 5 months after the accident. When she did this, she suffered periodic setbacks in her progress. She remained in physical therapy until May 2002, 9 months following the accident.
The plaintiff last saw her orthopedist more than a year and a half after the accident. At that time, she was still complaining of stiffness and loss of range of motion in her left foot and ankle. On examination, loss of motion and crepitus was noted in the left ankle. The plaintiff was advised that part of the injury to her left ankle was permanent in nature and would simply not heal. Also, the plaintiff was advised that she would need to have the hardware that was placed in her left ankle during the surgery removed in a second surgery.
The case went through Superior Court Mandatory Non-Binding Arbitration and the plaintiff received an award of $100,000. Attorney John Ratkowitz filed a trial de novo and agreed to voluntary binding arbitration and within weeks was able to secure an award of $210,000.