Knee injuries are among the most common injuries suffered by car accident victims. A recent study of approximately 75 auto collisions found there were 69 knee injuries ranging from mild to severe among 222 injured passengers. Only when you sustain a serious knee injury do you realize how important your knees are to almost every physical movement:
- Ascending/descending stairs
- Standing up/sitting down
Daily activities like shopping, playing with your kids, exercising, and getting into/out of your car become agonizing ordeals if one or both of your knees are hurt. The pain can be severe and get worse over time as you aggravate the joint by using it, which is almost unavoidable. Osteoarthritis is also likely to develop early in an injured knee. Surgery or even a knee replacement might be necessary to restore you to good health.
Dashboard Knee Injury
A dashboard knee injury occurs when the impact from a rear-end crash drives your knees hard into the bottom or underside of the dashboard, damaging ligaments and cartilage or dislocating/fracturing your patella (knee cap). A fractured patella causes:
- Excruciating pain
- Immediate swelling
- Inability to put any weight on your leg
While patella fractures have immediate symptoms and can be confirmed by X-rays, ligament damage, which is more common, might not be obvious immediately and cannot be detected by an X-ray. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedure is necessary to determine whether you’ve damaged your:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
Ligament damage causes tenderness, bruising, swelling, and restricted movement, but a complete tear of any of these four ligaments will result in extreme pain and make it very difficult for you to walk. Mild to moderate ligament damage is usually treated by the RICE method:
More severe damage might require physical therapy. Complete tears can be repaired only by surgery, from which you might need up to a year to recover.
When the patella moves from the front to the side of the knee, the knee becomes tender, deformed, and impossible to straighten. A dislocation can be healed with a brace or cast and physical therapy unless there is damage to the patella, which might require surgery.
Not only the patella but also the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) might be fractured in a car crash. The type and length of treatment necessary depend on how serious the fracture is:
- Stable/non-displaced. The bone is cracked but remains aligned.
- Displaced. The bone snaps, putting the two parts of the bone out of alignment.
- Comminuted. The bone is broken in multiple places or crushed.
Treatments might include a cast/brace for up to eight weeks, physical therapy, or surgery.
The two pieces of cartilage between your femur and tibia are the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. A car crash that forces your knee to twist or rotate too far in one direction or another can tear the meniscus. Minor tears can be treated by the RICE method and physical therapy while more serious tears could require surgical trimming of the cartilage. Recovery after such surgery takes approximately six weeks.
Getting Compensation for Your Damages After a Car Accident
If you’ve suffered a knee injury in a car accident, you’re entitled to file a claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver for your damages. If you need surgery or a knee replacement followed by a long recovery period, your claim could be a very expensive one for the insurance company. Its adjusters are paid to dispute, devalue, and denying expensive claims to save the company money.
If you don’t have an attorney, you will probably be offered a quick, low settlement that will not properly compensate you for your damages. The insurance company knows you’re unlikely to sue successfully without legal representation, so they’re not going to take your claim seriously unless you have a lawyer who will organize and present your evidence convincingly and fight for you in court if your case should go to trial.
Have You Suffered a Knee Injury in a South Dakota Car Crash? Contact Our Car Accident Attorneys Today.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you seek fair compensation for your damages. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.