Knee Injury in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Knee injury in a motor vehicle accident is unfortunately quite common. The forces involved in a car accident can force the driver or passenger to sustain a heavy impact with steering column, dashboard, glove compartment or other surfaces within the vehicle.
Injuries such as a fractured or dislocated knee, damage to the ligments, strains and “dashboard knee” are the usual types of knee injury one would experience in a car accident. Dashboard knee is a specific type of injury which occurs when the leg makes impact with the dashboard in a head on collision. The knee cap or patella may be fractured or there might be damage to the connective tissue surrounding it. When a knee is fractured, the pain and swelling is immediate. Knee injury makes life much more challenging and mobility is limited as the joint cannot bear weight or sustain rotational forces.
Symptoms of Knee Injury
Symptoms of a knee injury are usually immediate, but more subtle damage to the ligaments and tendons surrounding the knee may take longer to present symptoms. These can include:
- A “pop” or tearing sensation
- Redness, swelling, tenderness or tingling
- Pain or inability to bear weight
- Instability, especially during turns or while standing or sitting
- Locking of the knee, or a sensation of grinding inside the joint
Common Types of Knee Injury
The knee is essentially a hinged joint which is held together by several ligaments. Some common knee injuries from acute trauma may include the following:
Fracture of the Knee / Patella: The powerful forces in many car accidents result in fractures to bones within the knee. Fractures are classified as simple, stress (hairline), comminuted, avulsion, or compound. The knee may require surgery or be immobilized in a cast. While most knee fractures heal without permanent damage, long term issues can result including arterial issues or arthritic complications.
Dislocation of the Knee: A knee dislocation may seem less severe than a compound fracture or torn ligaments, but can actually result in a limb-threatening injury resulting in amputation if medical attention is not immediately provided. There may also be arterial damage inside the knee which may not be apparent. Left untreated, the lower leg receives diminished blood flow threatening the limb itself. While dislocated knees are less frequent, the powerful impact of a motor vehicle accident can result in a posterior dislocation.
PCL Tear or Injury: The Posterior Cruciate Ligament or PCL is stronger than its companion ligament, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL, and is much less commonly torn due to its strength. PCL injuries occur more frequently when the knee is bent, such as while riding in a car, truck or other motor vehicle. A PCL tear can result from the powerful blunt force trauma of a steering column or dashboard in a car accident. A PCL is usually accompanied by other damage to surrounding bones, tissue and ligaments.
ACL Tear or Injury: The Anterior Cruciate Ligament or ACL crisscrosses the knee joint with its companion ligament, the PCL. The ACL provides critical stability to the knee and prevents forward motion of the tibia on the femur. An ACL rupture is one of the most common as well as serious knee injuries. Those with ACL damage are often left immobilized, unable to bear weight while experiencing severe pain which worsens with any movement. An ACL injury in an auto accident is usually accompanied by other knee injuries especially a meniscal injury or tear of the Medial Collateral Ligament or MCL.
MCL Tear or Injury: The Medial Collateral Ligament or MCL is the most commonly damaged ligament in the knee and may be sprained or torn. The MCL is a thick ligament travelling down the inner part of the knee from the femur or thighbone to a point roughly four to six inches above the tibia or shinbone. The MCL limits the leg from overextending inward while providing crucial stabilization. Often, in an MCL injury there is a ripping, pulling or tearing sensation in the inner knee, resulting in redness, swelling and potential bruising.
LCL Tear or Injury: The Lateral Collateral Ligament or LCL is the ligament which runs along the outside portion of the knee joint, connecting the knee to the femur or thighbone and top of the fibula or lower leg bone. LCL injury may be less common in a car accident as it is typically the result of a direct force on the inside of the knee.
Sprained or Strained Knee: Knee sprains occur when ligaments or the joint capsule are stretched, torn or ruptured. A knee strain results from severe stretching or severing of muscles or tendons in and around the knee or the joint capsule. Collateral (MCL & LCL) and cruciate (PCL & ACL) ligament sprains and muscle strains are common in motor vehicle accidents. Sprains and strains are often graded by severity of impairment on a scale of I to III.
Contact an Experienced Knee Injury and Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
My name is Rivers J. Morrell, III and I have helped accident victims with knee injury or other serious injuries for more than 40 years. I understand the impact that this event has had upon your life, and I want to help. If you or someone you love was injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by another person’s negligence I invite you to contact my office to schedule an appointment, or call 949-273-2693 to speak with me personally for a free consultation.
I work on a contingency fee basis, and there is no cost to you out of pocket. Let’s discuss what has happened, and all that I can do to help you to recover from this event and to have the resources and treatment required to heal and move forward with your life.