If you or a loved one has had a car accident-related knee injury you probably want to know how much you can settle your claim for. In the following, we’ll explore knee injury claims in depth so you’ll be informed and get the most out of your claim.
How Does a Car Accident Cause a Knee Injury?
The most common types of car accidents that cause knee injuries are sideswipes, head on impacts and rollover collisions. The injuries themselves tend to fall into a few major categories.
- Meniscus injuries
- Broke bones, exp fractured kneecap (patella)
- Torn or sprained ligaments (ACL, MCL, PCL)
In many accident scenarios, the knee slams into the dashboard or gets contorted at an awkward angle. This is generally called “dashboard knee”, it’s very common, and can lead to any injury mentioned above.
A study by DA Nagel, et al, reviewed 74 car accidents which contained 222 occupants. Of these people, 57 of them sustained a total of 69 injuries to the knee from crashing into the dash . So as you can see it’s relatively common.
A seat belt won’t necessarily save you from bashing your knee in a car accident. When it comes to the dynamics, impact with the dashboard causing injury to the patella or knee ligaments is causative factor number one.
What Are Common Symptoms of Knee Injuries?
Symptoms are going to depend on the nature and severity of each individual injury. But when it comes to dashboard knee one of the most common problems is a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Symptoms of this injury include .
- Swelling or redness (mild to severe)
- Knee pain/discomfort
- Wobbly sensation in the knee
- Trouble walking normally or bearing weight on the affected knee
There are of course many other ways a knee injury can manifest itself. Be on the lookout for symptoms such as:
- Stiffness or abnormal soreness
- Limited range of motion ex: trouble bending over
- Pain in or behind the kneecap
- A feeling of instability in the knee
- Tenderness to the touch
In many cases, an MRI or X-ray is required to properly assess a knee injury. After an accident make sure you take it easy on your knee and get into a doctor as quickly as possible. This is good for you and good for your claim.
Filing a Claim for Your Knee Injury
Knees are such a common injury that insurance companies will sometimes deny or contest a claim on the basis of a preexisting condition. If you’ve previously had knee injuries it may make your claim more difficult .
After the accident be sure to get a copy of the car accident report, get seen by a doctor, and notify your insurance company. You can call or email them and they will have an intake process to run you through.
Depending on the circumstances you can claim against your own insurance policy (and let them launch a subrogation claim) or you can pursue the other party directly. This decision may also be made for you depending on which state you live in (no-fault or fault).
Your claim also hinges on liability aspects and proximate cause (reason for your injury).
Let’s assume the other party is at fault, you’ll need to demonstrate that they violated their duty of care, a traffic law or otherwise acted in a negligent manner. This isn’t that hard but it takes a bit of effort.
Here are 4 key things to focus on.
- Get seen by a doctor immediately. Your medical records need to support the idea that your injury was caused by the accident. If they don’t or your doctor says otherwise you won’t have much of a claim.
- Get a copy of the police report. These reports will often explicitly indicate who is at fault and are the basis for many claims.
- Collect physical evidence. Photographs of the scene, your vehicle, and repair estimates that illustrate what happened.
- Check to see if there were any witnesses. For example, a firsthand account of the other party on their cell phone right before the crash can make all the difference.
These are all things your insurance adjuster will likely be doing, but it’s good to be aware of them. You are always your own best advocate.
How Much is Your Claim Worth?
Now that we’ve reviewed some basics, let’s get to the bottom line. How much is your claim actually worth?
There is no exact formula for determining this but there are some key factors that will help you ballpark things.
The two biggest factors when it comes to valuing your claim are the severity of the knee injury and the odds that a jury would rule against the other party. The first factor plays a role in that it determines medical expenses (medications, surgery, physical therapy, etc) and associated damages (pain and suffering or lost wages).
The second factor plays a role in that it determines how strong is your negotiating position.
The average cost of a few common knee treatments are as follows:
- Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery $20,000 to $50,000.
- Meniscus surgery $7,400 to $9,000
- Dislocated Patella treatment or surgery $1,00 to $16,000
As you can see a wide range. The same holds true when you look at examples knee injury claim settlements.
Example 1 — New YorkDriver A is a 29-year-old construction worker who is involved in a head-on collision with driver B who veers over the center line. Driver A suffers multiple injuries including a tear in both of his lateral meniscuses. Driver A has three knee surgeries, trigger-point injections, and needs physical therapy. He sues driver B and is awarded $375,00.
Example 2 — Maryland
Party A (76-year-old pedestrian) is struck by driver B who was driving through a parking lot. Party A sustains a fractured kneecap due to the impact, after surgery she contracts an infection prolonging her need for medical attention. Driver B claims party A contributed to the accident by not paying attention. Party A is awarded $135,000 in an out of court settlement.
Example 3 — VirginiaDriver A (a 50-year-old woman) slows to stop at a red light and is rear ended by driver B. Driver A tears her MCL and meniscus in the resulting impact and requires surgical repair. Diver B alleges driver A struck the car in front of her first and some of her injuries are the result of preexisting conditions. The jury awards driver A a reduced award of $10,000.
With the right approach figuring out the value of your knee injury claim isn’t that hard. Ensuring you are fairly compensated comes down to advocating for yourself or in some cases hiring an attorney to represent you. Just remember.
- Knee injuries are generally the result of impacts or twisting motions and torn ligaments, sprains, and fractures are the most common injuries.
- Symptoms vary, but typically show up in the form of pain, stiffness, instability or swelling
- You can pursue a claim against your own insurance or directly against the other party. You’ll likely need to show the other party was at fault and the accident was the cause of your knee injury.
- Knee injury settlement amounts range widely. The value of your claim boils down to the extent of your damages and how clear liability is.
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