Knee injuries either a knee fracture or a torn ligament is a serious injury because even after surgical repair, the injury will cause arthritis and change your life. Years later you may even need a total knee replacement.
- 1 How Much Is a Knee Injury Worth?
- 2 What Type Of Doctor Should I See For a Knee Injury?
- 3 When And How Is a Knee Injury Diagnosed?
- 4 The Two Most Common Knee Injuries We See
- 5 Symptoms
- 6 Knee Surgery
- 7 Knee Replacement
How Much Is a Knee Injury Worth?
The value of a knee injury in a personal injury case depends on many factors including the type of knee injury, severity of the knee injury, medical treatment, and the degree of liability or fault of the defendant. However, we provide a couple of examples here.
$465,000 Verdict For a Meniscus Tear
GEICO offered $10,000 to settle a meniscus tear. GEICO’s attorneys argued at trial that the meniscus was not torn because the intraoperative photos (taken during the surgery) did not show a tear and that the accident was the fault of our client.
The jury in New York Supreme Court Nassau County decided that the defendant was 100% at fault and gave a $465,000 verdict to our client.
Our client was injured in a motorcycle accident and the only injury he had was a torn meniscus with arthroscopic surgery.
The $465,000 jury verdict was not reduced by the judge and we believe it is a record verdict in Nassau County for a torn meniscus.
See our knee injury verdict published in New York Jury Verdict Review & Analysis.
Verdict For Other Knee Injuries
$2,359,926 verdict for fractures and ligament tears when the plaintiff slipped and fell on laundry detergent in the aisle of a supermarket.
Various verdicts and settlements ranging from a $300,000 settlement to a $2,926,748 verdict for knee replacement surgery.
What Type Of Doctor Should I See For a Knee Injury?
The types of doctors that diagnose and treat knee injuries:
- Orthopedic surgeons
- Physiatrists also known as PMR or Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctors
When And How Is a Knee Injury Diagnosed?
Often, a knee injury is not diagnosed right after an accident. Other areas that hurt, mask the pain caused by a knee injury and you may not be aware of it at the time of the accident.
Additionally, knee injuries worsen over the first few days or weeks and the injured person often mistakes the pain and swelling for a sprain. When the pain doesn’t go away, the person eventually goes to a doctor and is diagnosed with a knee injury.
If you see a doctor right for knee pain after your accident, your doctor will treat your knee injury but may wait 4-8 weeks before prescribing an MRI which will show exactly what the injury is. The reason for waiting is that insurance companies want some time to rule out a sprain because an MRI is expensive. If your pain is severe, your doctor will order an MRI immediately.
The Two Most Common Knee Injuries We See
- Torn Meniscus
- Knee fracture
The meniscus is a cartilage that acts as a cushion absorbing shock between the thighbone and shinbone. This is often referred to as torn cartilage, a torn meniscus, or a meniscus tear. There are two menisci in the knee, the medial (inner) meniscus, and the lateral (outer) meniscus.
Connective tissue is either a:
- Ligament – Fibrous connective tissue that attaches a bone to another bone, usually providing support and stability.
- Tendon – Tough fibrous connective tissue that 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 the 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 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.
Grades of Tears (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.
Knee injuries can consist of a fracture (broken bone) and may also have a tear of connective tissue. Fractures are usually diagnosed by an x-ray or CT scan, while a tear is most commonly diagnosed with MRI.
Fractures of the knee include a fracture of the:
- Femoral condyle
- Tibial eminence
- Tibial tuberosity, and
- Tibial plateau
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 that will go away in a few days. When pain and swelling don’t go away, the victim will finally see a doctor.
When the accident victim doesn’t seek medical treatment immediately, insurance companies often try to claim that the injury wasn’t caused by the accident. However, this is obviously false and an argument that we can easily deal with.
- Pain or swelling
- dull burning
- sharp, shooting pain when in use
- Locking of the knee
- Giving way or buckling (instability) of the knee
Symptoms which often lead to a decision to perform a surgical repair:
- Redness and feeling warm to the touch
- Difficulty doing things such as walking up stairs or sports
- Your knee gives out from under you, possibly causing you to fall.
If an MRI either shows a tear you are a candidate for surgery. If the MRI does not show a tear but shows evidence that could indicate the existence of a tear, then your doctor will probably recommend arthroscopic surgery to see if you have a tear.
Even if the MRI does not show anything, surgery may be recommended based on your symptoms because a tear doesn’t always show on an MRI but will be seen with arthroscopic surgery.
An orthopedic doctor will consider the results of the MRI report; the symptoms you indicate, and the findings of his clinical exam to form an opinion which s/he will give you.
Because of a lack of blood supply to the meniscus, a torn meniscus will not heal and arthroscopic surgical repair is usually the treatment performed.
Most knee surgeries are done as arthroscopic surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which an examination and sometimes treatment of damage is performed using an arthroscope that is inserted into the joint through a tiny incision.
Alternatively, a patient may decide to forgo surgery and choose to do continuing physical therapy at home if the pain is not too bothersome. Strengthening the muscles which support the knee will help remove stress on the knee joint and may also slow down the onset of osteoarthritis.
If continuing physical therapy doesn’t fully resolve your knee pain, it will likely get worse over time and require surgery.
During surgery, the damaged area of the meniscus is usually trimmed and any torn pieces are removed. Full recovery is usually accomplished in six weeks.
Surgery is often recommended because a torn piece of cartilage can cause damage to the smooth cartilage which covers both ends of the knee.
Total knee replacement or knee replacement surgery is done when someone has severe arthritis or a severe knee injury. This includes arthritis resulting from a knee injury.
What is the difference between a total knee replacement and a partial knee replacement?
In a total knee replacement, the entire joint is replaced with an artificial joint. In a partial knee replacement, either the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) compartments of the knee joint are removed and replaced with artificial parts.
Do I need a total knee replacement or partial knee replacement?
If one of the three knee compartments is damaged by arthritis, a partial knee replacement would be done but if more than one of these compartments are damaged or if you have severe ligament instability a total knee replacement may be recommended:
- Medial compartment (inside of the knee)
- Lateral compartment (outside of the knee), and
- Patellofemoral compartment (front of the knee between the kneecap and thighbone).
Read about total knee replacement surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital
What does the scar from a total knee replacement look like?
This photo shows the sutured surgical site of our client’s total knee replacement. This will heal and look much better after a few months. Ask your orthopedic surgeon if a plastic surgeon can suture the incision If you are concerned about a scar on your knee. Plastic surgeons can perform miracles and make scars disappear.
A total knee replacement scar adds considerable value to your personal injury case.
For a comprehensive list of resources about knee injuries and treatment, see our webpage at HURT911.org®