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Knee Injuries From Car Accidents: Causes, Types, and Treatments

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

Sustaining a knee injury from a car accident can be a serious and costly condition. The knee is a vital joint responsible for supporting weight and enabling mobility. If twisted, impacted, or hyperextended in a crash, it can lead to costly medical treatment, rehabilitation, and time off work.

If you suffer a knee injury after a car accident, you may be able to seek a settlement for your losses from the at-fault driver. A Michigan car accident lawyer from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., can help you receive your personal injury protection benefits and file for compensation from the driver who caused your knee injury.

Causes of Knee Injuries in Car Accidents

Car accidents can exert immense force on the human body, leading to various injuries, including those affecting the knee joint. While the knee is a strong joint designed to handle daily movements and weight, it can suffer serious damage in a vehicle collision.

Knee pain after a car crash can be caused by the following:

  • Sudden impact: The rapid deceleration or acceleration of a vehicle can result in violent movements of the knee joint, causing ligaments, tendons, and bones to stretch, tear, or fracture.
  • Direct impact: Vehicle occupants’ knees may come into direct contact with hard surfaces within the vehicle, such as the dashboard, steering wheel, or side panels. The force of impact can lead to localized trauma, resulting in contusions, fractures, or dislocations.
  • Knee compression: When a vehicle’s front end collides with another object or vehicle, the front part of the car can crumple. This can lead to the passenger compartment being compressed, potentially causing the knees to hit the dashboard or other parts of the vehicle.
  • Twisting or hyperextension: During a car accident, occupants’ legs might be in an awkward position when the impact occurs. This can cause the knee joint to twist unnaturally or hyperextend, leading to injuries in the ligaments, meniscus, or other structures within the knee.
  • Lack of proper restraints: Failure to wear seat belts or inadequate restraint systems can increase the risk of knee injuries during car accidents. Seat belts and airbags are designed to minimize bodily movement during a collision, reducing the chance of knee trauma.
  • Multiple impact points: In more severe accidents, the knee can be subjected to multiple impact points as the vehicle collides with different objects or experiences secondary collisions. Each impact can contribute to increased stress on the knee joint, leading to varying degrees of injury.
  • Pre-existing knee conditions: Individuals with pre-existing knee conditions, such as previous injuries, arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, may be more susceptible to severe knee injuries during car accidents due to weakened or compromised knee structures.
  • Side-impact collisions: Side-impact collisions (T-bone accidents) can be particularly harmful to the knee joint as the knee may absorb the brunt of the force. This can result in fractures, dislocations, or ligament tears.

Types of Knee Injuries From a Collision

Car accidents can subject the knee joint to considerable forces and stresses, often resulting in various injuries that can vary in severity. The knee is composed of bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and other soft tissues, making it susceptible to various types of injuries during collisions.

  • Ligament tears: Multiple types of ligament tears can result from an accident, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tears, and medial collateral ligament (MCL) tears. These injuries can be caused by a sudden stop or change in direction or direct impact to the front or side of the knee.
  • Meniscus tears: Twisting or rotational forces during a collision can cause tears in the meniscus, leading to pain, swelling, and restricted knee movement.
  • Fractures: Direct impacts on different areas of the legs, such as the patella or femur, can result in fractures. These fractures can be painful and may require surgery to repair.
  • Dislocations: A severe impact to the knee can cause the patella to dislocate from its normal position, resulting in pain and difficulty straightening the knee.
  • Tendon injuries: The patellar tendon, which connects the patella to the tibia, can suffer damage during a collision, resulting in difficulty extending the knee.
  • Contusion and bruising: Deep bruising of the knee tissues can occur due to direct impact during a collision, leading to pain and temporary impairment of knee function.

Should I Seek Medical Care for a Knee Injury After a Crash?

Always seek medical care for a knee injury after a crash. Even if you don’t think you are hurt, obtaining prompt medical attention is essential to receiving an accurate diagnosis, preventing complications, and managing pain. Medical care also provides official records documenting your injuries, which your attorney can use for a compensation claim.

To diagnose a knee injury, your provider will perform a comprehensive evaluation. This may include a physical examination to assess the knee’s range of motion and stability and look for signs of swelling or tenderness. Your doctor may order diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, to get a detailed view of the knee’s internal structures and identify fractures, ligament tears, or other soft tissue injuries.

Your provider will also review your medical history and the crash circumstances to form an accurate diagnosis. They will then create a tailored treatment plan that includes the following to address your knee injury effectively:

  • Rest and immobilization: Minor knee injuries may require rest and avoiding weight-bearing activities to allow the knee to heal.
  • Ice and compression: Applying ice and using compression bandages can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain in the early stages of injury.
  • Pain medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medicines may be prescribed to help you control knee pain and discomfort.
  • Physical therapy: Rehabilitation exercises and physical therapy are crucial for strengthening the knee, restoring range of motion, and improving overall function.
  • Knee bracing: Depending on the type of injury, a knee brace may provide support and stability during the healing process.
  • Corticosteroid injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and pain in the knee.
  • Surgical intervention: Severe knee injuries, such as complex fractures or torn ligaments, may require surgical repair or reconstruction.
  • Knee arthroscopy: Arthroscopic procedures can diagnose and treat specific knee injuries, often resulting in smaller incisions and faster recovery times.

Can I Sue for a Knee Injury Sustained in a Car Accident?

Whether or not you can sue for a knee injury sustained in a car accident depends on the specific circumstances of the crash. If you plan to file a lawsuit in Michigan, consider the following:

  • Determining liability: To pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you must establish that another party was at fault for the car accident. This could be the other driver involved in the collision, or it might involve other entities like a government agency responsible for maintaining the road if conditions contributed to the accident.
  • Proving negligence: To succeed in a personal injury claim, you must show that the other party acted negligently or failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care, leading to the car accident and subsequent knee injury.
  • Insurance coverage: In Michigan, all drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover medical expenses for an accident, regardless of who is at fault. This will cover all relevant medical costs up to your policy limit and up to 85% of lost wages due to your injuries.
    However, you can file a third-party claim or lawsuit against an at-fault driver if your costs exceed PIP coverage. If your knee injuries result in permanent disfigurement or loss of important bodily function, you may also be able to sue for non-economic damages for pain and suffering.
  • Comparative negligence: Michigan follows the principle of comparative negligence, where compensation is reduced based on the injured party’s percentage of fault in the accident.
    However, under the state’s modified comparative negligence statute, you can only file if you have less than 51% fault in the crash. If you were partly responsible for the collision, it could reduce the compensation you can recover.
  • Documenting damages: To build a strong case, it is essential to document your knee injury and its impact on your life, including medical records, treatment costs, lost wages, and police reports. These documents provide evidence your attorney can use to build your claim.
    At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., our senior partner attorney Eileen Kroll will use her background in nursing to review your healthcare records to demonstrate the extent of your knee injuries and estimate fair compensation.

knee injury from car crash

How Hiring an Attorney Can Help

An experienced attorney can provide valuable assistance and guidance throughout the legal process, ensuring your rights are protected and helping you receive the compensation you deserve. Benefits of hiring an attorney include:

  • Legal expertise: Personal injury attorneys specialize in handling cases related to car accidents and knee injuries. They possess in-depth knowledge of relevant laws, regulations, and legal procedures, allowing them to navigate the complexities of your case effectively.
  • Investigation: Attorneys can thoroughly investigate the car accident and the circumstances surrounding your knee injury. They can gather evidence, interview witnesses, review medical records, and reconstruct the accident scene to build a strong case on your behalf.
  • Determining liability: An attorney can help establish liability by examining the evidence and presenting a persuasive argument to the insurance companies or in court.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies: An attorney can handle all communications with the insurance companies and negotiate a fair settlement covering your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
  • Evaluating damages: Knee injuries from car accidents can impact your life physically, emotionally, and financially. An attorney can help assess the full extent of your damages, including current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost income, and reduced earning capacity.
  • Advocacy in court: If your case goes to trial, having an attorney by your side ensures strong representation and advocacy in the courtroom. They can present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and address any legal challenges during the trial.
  • Reducing stress: Dealing with a car accident and knee injury can be overwhelming, especially when facing legal battles and insurance claims. Hiring an attorney allows you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal aspects of your case.
  • Contingency fee arrangement: The personal injury attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only get paid if we secure a settlement or judgment on your behalf. This arrangement reduces the financial burden and risk for you.
  • Time efficiency: Legal procedures can be time-consuming and complex. An attorney can navigate the legal process, filing all necessary paperwork correctly and within the appropriate timeframes. This can help you receive a timely settlement.

Get Help with Your Case

Knee injuries resulting from car accidents can have far-reaching consequences on your physical well-being, emotional state, and financial stability.

Working with an experienced attorney can alleviate the burden of filing a claim and gathering evidence following a car accident and knee injury. Our car accident attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. will guide you through your legal options and represent your interests every step of the way.

Contact our legal team today to schedule a free consultation. We will use our experience with Michigan auto insurance and personal injury law to establish liability and pursue your rightful compensation for your knee injury from a car accident.

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.

Alistair MacDonald holds a bachelor’s degree in History and minors in Classics and Economics from Hamilton College. He writes about complex financial and legal topics, explaining them in a reader-friendly way.

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