Knee Injuries

Knee injuries are serious because even after surgical repair, the injury will cause arthritis.  We obtained a $465,000 jury verdict in Nassau for a torn meniscus (knee injury) which was disputed by the insurance company.

See the knee injury verdict published in New York Jury Verdict Review & Analysis.

Jury Verdict Review showing verdict for knee injury

Often, a knee injury is not diagnosed right after an accident. Other areas which hurt, mask the pain caused by a knee injury. Additionally, knee injuries worsen over the first few days or weeks and the injured person often mistakes the pain for a sprain. When the pain doesn’t go away, the person eventually goes to a doctor and is diagnosed with a knee injury.

Knee injuries can consist of a fracture (broken bone) or damage such as a sprain or tear of connective tissue.  Fractures are usually diagnosed by x-ray or CT scan, while a tear is most commonly diagnosed with MRI.

Fractures of the knee include a fracture of the patella, femoral condyle, tibial eminence, tibial tuberosity, and tibial plateau.

Connective tissue is either a:

  • Ligament – Fibrous connective tissue which attaches a bone to another bone, usually providing support and stability.
  • Tendon – Tough fibrous connective tissue which attaches muscle to bone. A tendon acts to move the bone or structure.
  • Cartilage – in the knee is tough, flexible tissue that covers the ends of your bones at the joint.

Damage to connective tissue can consist of a sprain or strain.  A more serious injury involves a tear of a ligament, tendon or cartilage.  A tear is usually diagnosed by MRI and treated with arthroscopic surgery (performed by inserting very narrow instruments through tiny holes).  Sometimes, a tear will not show on an MRI and if symptoms persist, arthroscopic surgery will be performed to visually identify the cause of the pain and make surgical repairs. In rare instances, open surgical reconstruction may be necessary.

A tear is associated with one or more of the following connective tissues:

  • ACL – Anterior Cruciate Ligament (anterior being nearer the front) limits forward motion of the tibia (shin bone).  Symptoms: You may feel or hear a pop at the time you injure your knee pain; Pain on the outside and back of the knee; feeling unstable, buckling, or giving out.  An ACL injury can usually occur in an accident by getting hit hard on the side of your knee or overextending the knee joint.
  • Anterolateral ligament (ALL) was recently discovered. If you still have problems after surgery for repair of the ACL anterior cruciate ligament, you probably also injured the anterolateral ligament.
  • PCL – Posterior Cruciate Ligament (posterior being nearer the back) – The PCL is similar to the ACL and connects the femur (thigh bone) to your tibia (shin bone).  It is larger and stronger than the ACL.  Symptoms: Wobbly sensation in the knee; difficulty walking or bearing weight on the knee. PCL injuries are usually caused by a direct blow to a flexed knee, such as when falling on the knee or hitting the dashboard in a car accident.
  • MCL – Medial Collateral Ligament goes from the inside surface of the upper part of the tibia (shin bone) to the inner surface of the bottom femur (thigh bone).  It keeps your tibia in place and helps keep the inside of the knee joint stable.  Symptoms: swelling; locking; giving way of your knee; pain inside. May be injured by by trauma, pressure or stress to a slightly bent knee.
  • Meniscus – Symptoms: pain felt on the inside or outside of the knee joint; swelling; locking; clicking; giving way of your knee. May be caused by trauma involving rotation of the knee while it was slightly bent.

Symptoms can occur immediately or within days after trauma from an accident.  The first symptoms are usually pain and swelling, often thought by the accident victim to be a sprain which will go away in a few days.  When pain and swelling doesn’t go away, the victim will see a doctor and become a patient.  When the accident victim doesn’t seek medical treatment immediately, insurance companies often try to claim that the injury was not caused by the accident.  However, this is an argument that we can easily deal with.

General Symptoms:

  • Pain or swelling
  • dull burning
  • sharp, shooting pain when in use
  • Locking of the knee
  • Giving way or buckling (instability) of the knee

Tears are graded by doctors

  • Grade I:  Partial tear.
  • Grade II:  Partial tear but looser than in Grade I.
  • Grade III:  Completely torn and the knee becomes unstable.
  • Grade IV:  Damaged along with another ligament in the knee.

For a comprehensive list of resources about knee injuries and treatment, see our webpage at HURT911.org®