The toes play a pivotal role in supporting our body weight and enable us to walk, balance, and propel forward during gait. The big toe is most critical for maintaining balance and bears 90% of our body weight when we walk.
Each toe is comprised of a number of small bones which may be fractured as a result of trauma or impacts. Joints between the toe bones are made up of tendons, ligaments and cartilage which can be damaged or torn.
Symptoms of a broken toe include pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising, inability to move the toe through its normal range of motion, and inability to bear weight.
Toe pain may result from an injury to the toe bone, soft tissue, nail or skin.
Toe injuries may result from a variety of causes including trauma, impacts, falls, prolonged stress or degenerative conditions. For example:
Toe injuries may occur in any workplace as a result of kicking or stubbing injuries on low lying obstacles. However they are particularly prevalent in physically active jobs such as professional sport people, labourers, tradespeople and those using machinery. Most industrial and commercial trades require the wearing of steel capped boots to minimise toe injuries.
You may be able to claim compensation for a broken or otherwise injured toe if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.
If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim work injury compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Jeff is reversing a forklift when he collides with a storage container sticking out from behind a shelf. As it has been raining and the rubber grip on the control pedals is missing, his foot slips off the pedal and becomes jammed between the container and the forklift. Despite wearing safety boots, his first and second toes, and the top of a third toe, are ripped off his left foot. Jeff is able to claim compensation from his employer for his injuries.
While working on a construction site, Rick sustains a toe crush injury when a concrete block falls on his foot. At the time of the accident Rick is wearing flip flops on the job site contrary to his employer’s safety policies. Rick is unable to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.
See also: WorkCover Claims
If you sustain a toe injury due to a car accident and it was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner, you can claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.
Example: Jeff crashes his motorcycle and sustains severe foot and toe injuries when a speeding vehicle collides with him. Jeff can claim compensation from the owner of the speeding car through its CTP insurer.
Rick sustains severe toe crush injuries when he runs a red light on his motorcycle and T-bones another vehicle. He is wearing thongs at the time of the accident. Rick is unable to claim CTP compensation for his injuries because the accident was totally his fault (although exceptions may apply for catastrophic accidents). If the accident occurred after July 1, 2016 he may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).
See Also: What does CTP Insurance Cover?
Occupiers (including owners of private property and public authorities), have a duty of care toward people coming onto their land. They must take reasonable care to make sure entrants are not exposed to risks that are likely to cause injury. This means if there is something that is potentially dangerous on their property, the owner must rectify it or warn people of the danger.
Common scenarios include someone slipping on a floor surface, tripping over an unexpected obstacle on the ground, falling into an unmarked hole in the pavement, or being hit by falling debris from a building site.
Jeff suffers serious lacerations and a severed tendon in his big toe when he steps on a large shard of glass on the floor of a restaurant. A bottle had smashed on the floor earlier in the day, but the staff member responsible failed to sufficiently clear the area. Jeff may be able to claim compensation for his injuries.
Rachel is standing in a bar talking with friends, when another patron wearing stilettos suddenly staggers backward and stands on Rachel’s toe. Rachel is wearing open shoes so the sharp heel causes extensive wounding and a fracture to her toe. Rachel may not be able to claim compensation from the bar since her injury did not result from any negligence on its part.
By participating in contact sports you accept an inherent risk of injury. However if you are injured because of someone else’s negligent act, inadequate supervision, unexpected violence or unsafe facilities, you may be able to claim for compensation.
If you play sport for a club, at school or university you may be able to claim compensation under their insurance policy. If you have been injured because of unsafe sporting facilities or equipment you may be able to claim against the occupier or organiser of the event.
Jackie plays university soccer. She attends training one afternoon and kicks her foot on a piece of astroturf that has torn away from the base, crushing the cartilage in her big toe. The grounds keeper and coach knew of the damaged astroturf but allowed the players to train on it and had failed to warn Jackie and her team mates about the risk of tripping. Jackie may be able to claim compensation from the university.
A fractured toe, if treated properly, should heal without significant long term symptoms. However in some cases it can lead to ongoing pain, stiffness, limitation of use, arthritis or deformity.
Toe amputations may cause serious balance, weight bearing and mobility issues depending on their extent.
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of a toe injury. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.
For example an extreme toe injury such as amputation of all five toes has a rating of 8 to 20 and a monetary range of $11,990 to $36,250 whereas a minor toe injury such as a fracture or soft tissue injury is rated 0 to 3 with a monetary range of $0 to $4,170.
To diagnose and treat a toe injury you may need to consult your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special medical braces or apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment, including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment, may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.
Toe injuries may require surgery to repair, reconstruct or replace components of the joint. Surgical and hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.
Rehabilitating after a toe injury may involve physiotherapy, massage, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed as compensation.
If you injure a toe, you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income.
If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. Occupations that require good mobility such as professional athletics or manual labour may be difficult for someone who has suffered a serious toe injury and their capacity to earn income in the future may be reduced. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.
Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.
Serious toe injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores for a period of time. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to because of an injury, you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.
In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.
Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.
In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury.
Someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.
The amount of compensation payable for a toe injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:
For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation.
However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply. Pre-court procedures have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to claim unless you can provide good reason for delaying and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim.
The time limits specified by some pre-court procedures are set out below.
For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18.
In the case of medical negligence claims, a parent or legal guardian of a minor must serve a Notice of Claim within six years of the day when the parent or guardian knew or ought to have known of the injury.
Depending on the nature of your toe injury and the circumstances which caused it, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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