Common Types of Leg Injuries from Car Accidents
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
There are many common types of leg injuries from car accidents. Since your legs are close to the impact zone during a collision, they are particularly vulnerable to trauma. The immense force involved in car accidents can lead to various leg injuries, ranging from fractures and soft tissue damage to ligament tears and dislocations.
These injuries can profoundly impact mobility, quality of life, and overall well-being. Understanding the common types of leg injuries that result from car accidents is essential to recognize their symptoms and get medical attention. As you recover from your leg injury, a car accident lawyer from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you pursue your claim.
Common Types of Leg Injuries from Car Accidents
A car accident’s impact and force can cause various leg injuries, from bone fractures to crush injuries. You can experience so much pain that you cannot move your leg and may require an amputation.
The most common types of leg injuries from car accidents include:
The leg bones may fracture or shatter, especially under prolonged pressure from the intense crush from the other vehicle. You may also experience multiple breaks in different parts of the leg. These fractures involve the following:
- Tibia and fibula fractures: Tibia, shin, and fibula fractures range from hairline cracks to complete shattering. Symptoms of these fractures include pain, swelling, and an inability to bear weight.
- Femur fractures: The femur, or thigh bone, is the longest and strongest bone in the human body. Femur fractures can be painful, limit mobility, and cause a noticeable bump on the leg.
- Foot and ankle fractures: The foot and ankle bones are susceptible to fractures in car accidents, especially in high-speed collisions or sudden deceleration. Fractures in the foot and ankle can occur in different bones in the middle and the back of the foot or the ankle joint.
Soft Tissue Damage
The rapid and intense force exerted on the body can cause the muscles to stretch and bruise. A sudden deceleration or rapid change in direction can force the body to move forcefully within the vehicle and cause contusions in the legs. Several types of soft tissue injuries include:
- Sprains: The ligaments and muscles in the legs can suffer sprains due to the direct impact of a car accident. This forceful impact can dislocate the joint and result in ligament tears. This injury can cause pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg.
- Muscle strains: The legs can strain when the muscles are overstretched, pulled, or torn at their attachment points. These strains can cause limited range of motion and discomfort during movement.
- Contusions and bruising: Contusions or bruises in the legs occur from the direct impact with the vehicle’s parts, such as the door panels or steering wheel. These bruises can vary in severity and may be accompanied by pain, swelling, and discoloration.
Dislocations can happen when the connection between two bones is disrupted and causes them to separate. These injuries can cause intense pain, swelling, and a lack of coordination. They occur in these areas of the body:
- Hip dislocation: High-impact collisions can force the hip joint out of its normal position, causing a hip dislocation. This injury is often associated with severe pain and muscle spasms.
- Knee dislocation: A knee dislocation occurs when the knee joint bones are forced apart. This displacement causes the ligaments to be pulled out of place. You may hear an audible pop and experience swelling and bruising around the knee.
- Ankle dislocation: A car accident can cause the ankle joint to dislocate. This injury occurs together with an ankle fracture because the ligaments that hold the ankle in place can be affected, causing serious damage and making the ankle unstable.
Crushing injuries can occur from excessive pressure on the legs and your entire body, causing severe tissue damage. Pain, swelling, and bruising can result from these types of injuries. These injuries include:
- Compartment syndrome: An injury can increase pressure in a compartment of muscles, nerves, or tissue due to swelling or bleeding. The pressure causes reduced blood flow and potential nerve damage. This can be a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment to relieve pressure and prevent further complications.
- Leg compression: Legs can be trapped or compressed within the vehicle or by external objects, resulting in crush injuries. These injuries can cause severe damage to the muscles, bones, blood vessels, and nerves in the legs, potentially leading to long-term complications and disability.
A pelvic fracture is a break in one or two bones in the pelvis. Fractures in the pelvis vary in pattern and severity, from minor stress fractures to compound breaks that can break through the skin.
A broken pelvis can also be classified as a stable or unstable fracture:
- Stable pelvis fracture: A single break in the pelvis results in a stable pelvis fracture, but the broken parts of the bones remain in place.
- Unstable pelvis fracture: Unstable pelvis fractures involve one or two more breaks in the pelvis, with the ends of the broken bones displaced from their original positions. These fractures result from the immense pressure caused by the impact of a car collision.
Amputations may become necessary for common leg injuries, such as severe fractures and crushing injuries. These procedures aim to remove the damaged tissue so that you can regain mobility with prosthetics and rehabilitation. These amputations can take place above or below the knee:
- Above-the-knee (transfemoral) amputation: This amputation involves cutting through the thigh tissue and femoral bone to remove the leg above the knee joint. After this amputation, you may need a prosthetic limb with a knee joint for better mobility.
- Below-the-knee (transtibial) amputation: A surgeon performs a below-the-knee amputation to remove the foot, ankle joint, tibia, fibula, and nearby soft tissues.
Contributing Factors to Leg Injuries in Car Accidents
In most cases, leg injuries occur from the collapse of the space where your legs rest while driving. In lower leg injuries, floor or foot control is likely to blame. The instrument panel or the steering wheel usually causes upper leg injuries. However, a number of factors can contribute to the common types of leg injuries from car accidents, including:
High-speed collisions often result in more severe leg injuries. The greater the speed at which the vehicles are traveling, the higher the forces involved in the impact. These forces can lead to leg trauma, including fractures, dislocations, and soft tissue damage.
Seatbelts are designed to restrain occupants and prevent them from being forcefully thrown forward or ejected from the vehicle. However, seatbelts cause damage when they transmit force upon impact. While the upper body is held back, the lower body may twist or turn in unnatural ways, causing potential sprains, strains, or even breaks in the legs.
The type and location of the impact can impact the seriousness of leg injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that leg injuries are common in frontal collisions. These collisions can cause the legs to hit the dashboard or steering wheel. In these types of crashes, women are more likely to sustain injuries to their legs, ankles, and feet.
How Does Liability Play a Role in a Car Accident?
Determining liability in car accidents involving leg injuries can be complex and depend on the case’s specific circumstances. For instance, an aggressive driver weaves in and out of traffic and enters the opposite lane with oncoming vehicles. They cause a severe head-on collision that results in leg injuries.
Other drivers may be responsible for the crash. Michigan follows a modified comparative fault system based on the percentage of fault assigned to each party involved. Your share of responsibility must be less than 51% to receive compensation.
You can work with a Michigan car accident lawyer at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. to investigate liability in your crash. The attorney can assist you in collecting evidence and assessing the situation to determine the cause of the accident and help you pursue compensation for your losses.
What Should I Do After Suffering a Leg Injury in a Car Accident?
The Insurance Information Institute reports that knowing what to do after an accident can simplify filing your car insurance claim. Following these steps will protect your rights and allow you to gather evidence for your case:
- Schedule a medical appointment: Even if you feel minimal pain in your leg, some of the most common types of leg injuries from car accidents require immediate medical attention. Your primary healthcare doctor should evaluate you and use imaging tests to diagnose it. They can recommend appropriate treatment, such as physical therapy or surgical intervention.
- Document the accident: Take photos and videos, including the positions of all the vehicles, road conditions, and traffic signs. If there are witnesses, ask for their names and contact information. Your lawyer can also request surveillance footage from businesses near the accident site.
- Retain all medical records and receipts: Keep track of all medical reports, treatment details, and related expenses. Save your doctor’s notes, prescription details, physical therapy schedules, and the transport costs of your medical visits.
- Notify your car insurance company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. The insurance company will assign an adjuster who will evaluate the circumstances of your accident and inform you of your policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
- Contact a car accident attorney: If you sustained a severe leg injury like an amputation, you can file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver. A car accident lawyer can guide you through the legal process to determine liability and help you pursue restitution.
Damages You Can Win for Your Recovery and Rehabilitation
When pursuing a third-party claim for leg injuries sustained in a car accident, you can seek compensation for your recovery and rehabilitation. Financial compensation covers the medical care and support needed to regain physical function and emotional well-being. They include:
Medical Care and Surgery
Compensation may be sought for the costs associated with immediate and ongoing medical care. This includes emergency medical services, hospitalization, surgeries, consultations with specialists, diagnostic tests, medication, and necessary follow-up treatments. Medical expenses related to leg injuries can be substantial, especially in cases requiring surgical intervention, such as fracture fixation or ligament reconstruction.
Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in recovering from leg injuries. Compensation may cover expenses for physical therapy sessions, rehabilitation programs, and exercises to restore strength, flexibility, and leg mobility. The costs of assistive devices, such as crutches, braces, or prosthetic limbs, may also be included.
Adaptive Equipment and Assistive Devices
Leg injuries may require assistive devices and equipment to facilitate mobility and independence. You can pursue damages for buying and maintaining these devices, including wheelchairs, walkers, canes, or home modifications.
Emotional and Mental Support
Leg injuries from car accidents can have a significant psychological impact, including emotional distress, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can receive compensation for psychotherapy to address these mental health challenges and support your emotional well-being.
Eileen Kroll, our senior partner at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., is a registered nurse who brings a medical background to car injury cases. Eileen can use her medical experience to prove the physical and emotional damages of your injuries, including loss of enjoyment of life, to strengthen your claim for compensation.
Secure Your Path to Recovery with a Michigan Car Accident Attorney
In the aftermath of a car accident resulting in leg injuries, the path to recovery and rehabilitation can be physically, emotionally, and financially challenging. Seeking professional assistance from a skilled personal injury law firm can make a huge difference in securing the compensation needed to support your recovery journey.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. can provide the guidance and advocacy necessary to navigate the legal process and fight for your rights. Our team of attorneys can assess the unique aspects of your case, thoroughly investigate the accident, gather evidence, and build a strong legal strategy aimed at helping you receive a fair settlement.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.