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Common Types of Knee Injuries From Car Accidents

We don’t often think about knee protection while driving, but knees are some of the most vulnerable body parts when an accident happens. Whether the car is hit head-on, from the rear, or from the side, the impact could cause the knee to smash into surrounding objects such as the dashboard, the steering wheel, or the car door. In some cases, a knee injury could, unfortunately, lead to disability.

Here are common types of knee injuries in car crashes. If you or a loved one has suffered any of these due to someone else’s negligence, get the help of a reliable injury attorney to claim compensation.

Types of Knee Injuries in Vehicle Crashes

Patella Fracture

When the knee slams against a solid object or is crushed under the weight of the car dashboard, it can result in a fracture on the patella or kneecap.

A fractured patella typically produces debilitating pain, swelling, and/or stiffness of the knee. Most people feel the pain right away, but some don’t notice any symptoms until a few days after the accident. To properly diagnose a patellar injury, an orthopedist may request an x-ray or an MRI. Depending on the severity, treatment may range from ice and motion exercises to surgery and physical therapy.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injury

Within the knee joint, there are two ligaments or connective tissues that form an X and allow the back-and-forth motion of the knee. The front tissue is called the anterior cruciate ligament. In a vehicle accident, the ACL can tear if a violent force hits the knee or if the person uses their leg to brace against an impact.

The most recognizable symptom of a torn ACL is a popping sound, followed by the knee giving out. Pain and swelling typically occur within 24 hours, and if these are untreated, the patient could lose their knee motion.

Unfortunately, a torn ACL cannot heal without surgery, as it needs reconstruction. Apart from a surgical operation, the doctor may recommend bracing and physical therapy.

Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) aka “Dashboard Knee” Injury

The posterior cruciate ligament is the other connective tissue that forms an X within the knee joint. The PCL is considered less vulnerable than the ACL, but it can still tear when the knee suffers a forceful blow. In vehicle accidents, this commonly occurs when the knee slams against the dashboard of the car, pushes hard into the shinbone and tears the ligament.

Symptoms of a torn PCL are pain, swelling, and knee instability. Most cases of PCL injury don’t require surgery, but the physician may likely recommend medications for pain and swelling, as well as a knee brace and crutches.

Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury

The medial collateral ligament is a band of tissue connecting the thigh bone and the lower leg bone. It also prevents the knee from buckling inward. The MCL can be sprained or torn if the knee suddenly twists or changes direction, such as if the leg is violently pushed to one side or bent awkwardly in a car collision.

Most cases of MCL injury are fortunately manageable at home with ice and rest. However, if this ligament sustains a severe tear, it may require surgery.

Knee Dislocation

Dislocation refers to the misalignment of bones in the knee (patella, femur, or tibia) resulting from a strong impact, such as in a car collision. A knee dislocation injury may be accompanied by a ligament injury, such as those discussed above.

A popping sound and severe pain typically occur when the knee is dislocated. Other symptoms include swelling, redness, tenderness, knee giving out, the inability to bend or straighten the knee, and numbness on the lower leg or foot.

To restore the alignment of the bones, a physician will manually “pop” the joint back in place. Though this sounds like something most people can do, a dislocated knee warrants professional medical attention due to the potential damage on surrounding blood vessels. If damage occurs to nearby blood vessels, it may restrict blood flow to the leg and may require emergency surgery if left untreated.

Torn Meniscus

A meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that acts as a cushion between the shinbone and the thigh bone. An abrupt twisting or rotating of the knee, such as in a collision, could tear the meniscus. Symptoms of a torn meniscus include a clicking sound, pain and swelling, the knee joint “locking up,” the knee giving in, and difficulty straightening the knee.

Initial treatment for a torn meniscus includes ice, rest, medication, and physical rehabilitation. However, if symptoms linger despite therapy, the doctor may recommend surgery to repair the meniscus or conduct a meniscus transplant.

What to Do if You Have a Knee Injury from a Crash

It is crucial to get immediate medical attention if you hit your knee in a collision or suffer any knee pain or swelling after an accident. Though many knee injuries can heal with just ice and rest, numerous other cases lead to debilitating pain and complications. Don’t leave your knee pain untreated – see a doctor as soon as you can.

It’s also important to start gathering documentation immediately after your accident. Compile photographs or videos of the crash scene, your police accident report, medical records and bills, injury-related expenses (such as crutches and special transportation), and missed-work logs. These are helpful pieces of evidence to support your compensation claim.

Get the help of a personal injury attorney early on in your case. A competent lawyer should help you get a full assessment of your injuries, determine the maximum value of your claim, and negotiate for your fair compensation.

Call a Knee Injury Attorney in San Diego County

The attorneys at Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers are top-rated in car accident cases in Southern California. We have successfully obtained favorable compensation for our clients in a wide variety of injury cases, including knee injuries and dashboard injuries from motor vehicle crashes.

Consult with us for free about your car crash knee injury. Call (619) 550-1355 or use our online contact form.


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