If someone’s negligence caused your knee injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
A video of this article is below:
The knee is one of the biggest and most complex joints in our body.
If you injure your knee in an accident, you want to the best settlement possible. To have the best chance at getting a good payout, you need a crash course on knee injury cases. Without understanding the basics, the insurance company will not offer you fair compensation for the case.
Here, I am going to share some valuable tips that I’ve learned from settling many knee injury cases.
You Only Get Pain and Suffering if Someone Else Caused Your Knee Injury
This article applies to the claims if someone else caused your knee injury. It also applies if you are hurt while working and you also have a personal injury claim.
Some of this article does not apply if you only have a workers compensation claim.
You May Get Nothing if You Have a Bad Case
There are over 76 Important factors that affect the value of a settlement for a knee injury. One of two bad factors can kill the value of the case. On the other hand, a good factor can increase the case value.
As a starting point, I estimate the full value for the pain and suffering component for settlement purposes of a personal injury claim from a Florida auto accident. Basically, I look at the value assuming that I the knee injury is 100% related to the accident.
Important Factors in Car Accident Claims for Knee Injuries
In a car accident case where you’re claiming a knee injury, the insurance company may use one or more defenses. They will use these arguments to pay you as little as possible.
These defenses are typically not all or nothing. This means that an adjuster usually won’t offer you nothing just because they have a defense.
However, they may drastically discount the value of your case based on their defenses. (I’m not saying that I agree with their defenses.)
If you think that an insurance company is improperly using a defense, consider filing a consumer complaint. This, among other things, gets the claims manager to review your file.
Here are some of the most common defenses in knee injury cases from car accidents.
Little damage to the car(s) may mean a smaller settlement offer
In a knee injury car accident case, the responsible party’s insurance company will look at the amount of damage to the car that you were in at the time of the accident.
If there was minor damage to it, the car insurance company will likely claim that a knee injury couldn’t have been caused by the crash.
I’ve had State Farm claim that there is a question as to whether a knee injury can be caused from the crash if there was only $800 of damage to the claimant’s vehicle.
Certain types of vehicles may suffer less damage in an accident. This may be true for Jeep or other vehicles that have a hitch on the back. If you were in a vehicle with a hitch, and the vehicle suffered minor damage, mention this to the adjuster.
If the car that you were in didn’t sustain much damage, look at the damage to the other vehicle(s) involved.
Sometimes the liable driver’s insurance adjuster will argue that you were in a minor accident just because your vehicle wasn’t badly damaged. They may fail to mention that the other car’s insured was badly damaged.
State Farm and other insurance companies have done this with me. If the other car suffered big damage, point this out to the adjuster. It may help you get a better settlement offer.
Delay In Getting Your Initial Treatment Hurts Your Case
If you waited days to get your initial medical treatment for your knee injury, expect the responsible driver’s insurer to use this against you. I’ve had State Farm claim that a 9+ day delay in initial treatment raises a question as to whether a car accident caused a knee injury.
Can a Rear-End Accident Cause a Knee Injury?
Car insurance companies may argue that there is an issue of whether a rear-end accident can cause a knee injury. I’ve had State Farm, USAA and Allstate argue that a rear-end crash can’t cause a meniscus tear.
Here is was a meniscus tear looks like.
Let’s look at some knee injury settlements for car, truck and motorcycle accidents.
$300,000 Settlement for Detached Meniscus In Knee, and Leg Fracture, from Car Crash
See my $300,000 settlement for a meniscus detachment and tibial plateau fracture from a car accident. This left turn accident happened in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida.
$75,000 Settlement For Knee Surgery From Miami Car Accident
A young lady received a $75,000 Settlement for arthroscopic surgery on a plica in her knee. A plica is a fold of synovial membrane of the knee.
A car made a left hand turn in front of the car that she was driving and crashed into her.
The at-fault car was cited for failing to yield the right of way. Progressive insured the at fault driver.
Therefore, our client was an insured under the UM policy.
She Had Epidural Injections to Her Lower Back
She also had epidural injections to a bulging disc in her lower back. Our client lived in Miami, Florida.
Our client owned a car. State Farm insured it.
Her Own PIP Paid $10,000 in Medical Bills
Scooter Rider Gets $52,000 for Knee Pain and Other Injuries
The crash happened in North Miami Beach, Florida. Crawford & Company handled the claim for the company that owned the pickup truck.
We settled for $52,000. My client’s eye injury was his worst injury.
$28K Settlement for Knee Injury from Truck Accident
Tom, a 51 year old, was driving a box truck on I-75 in Wildwood, Sumter County, Florida. Jose was driving an 18 wheeler truck headed in the same direction.
The front of Jose’s truck hit the back of Tom’s truck. The crash diagram is below:
American Inter-Fidelity Exchange insured Jose’s employer.
The impact was hard. Tom got an estimate of the damage to his truck. He also took photos of his truck. We sent the estimate and photos to American Inter-Fidelity Exchange.
The following photo shows the damage to the rear of Tom’s truck.
Tom didn’t take photos of Jose’s truck.
He did not take an ambulance to the hospital. In fact, he never went to a hospital.
Six days after the accident, Tom went to his primary care physician. Her told his doctor that he felt pain immediately after the collision.
His back pain radiated (went down) into his left leg. The doctor noticed that Tom had muscle spasms.
His doctor gave Tom prescriptions for Flexeril (muscle relaxer) and Ibuprofen (pain reliever) to help ease the muscle spasms and pain.
We also claimed that the collision worsened the pre-existing chondromalacia in his knee.
American Inter-Fidelity Exchange paid us $28,000 to settle Tom’s personal injury claim. Here is the settlement check:
I was Tom’s personal injury attorney.
Passenger Gets $25,000 for Knee Injury and Other Injuries from Crash
See a case where a passenger got $25,000 after a car rear ended him in Key Largo. He claimed a herniated disc, shoulder labrum tear, finger and knee injury.
My client had $25,000 in uninsured motorist (UM) coverage with USAA.
USAA paid $25,000. The accident happened in South Florida.
Driver Gets $20,000 Settlement for Knee Injury and Herniated Disc
Henry (not real name) was in a car that was T-boned by another car at an intersection in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The other driver received a ticket for running the red light.
After the accident, he had an MRI of his knee. It revealed joint effusion (water on the knee). Henry also claimed that the accident caused or aggravated a two herniated discs in his lower back.
I represented Henry.
Pedestrian Hit By Van Gets $8,000 for Knee Injury and Other Injuries
Our client was standing in a car dealership parking lot in Miami-Dade County, Florida. A mini van backed up. It hit him at an idle (slow) speed.
Our client’s knees buckled and he fell to the ground. He complained of lower back pain.
He Had a Knee Surgery Before the Accident
A few months prior to this accident, he had knee surgery. Immediately after this accident, he complained of knee pain. He did not have any swelling in his knee.
Miami-Dade Fire rescue came to the scene. Our client walked to the ambulance stretcher. He was put on a backboard.
The paramedics put a neck collar on our client. They transported him to Homestead Hospital.
State Farm Insurance insured the driver.
The driver said that he barely hit our client. He said that if contact was made, it was at a very low-speed.
He Received Therapy For Months After the Accident
Our client received therapy for several months after the accident. The final diagnosis was:
- Lumbar sprain/strain
- Cervical sprain/strain (Resolved).
- Sprain/strain of the knee
- Contusion to the knee
- Residual Lumbalgia
- Knee injury complicated by prior injury and surgery
- Patellar Dysfunction
Often Easier to Prove that Knee Fractures Are Related to the Accident
If you have a fracture – as opposed to a tear – it is usually easier to prove that the accident caused the fracture. Some fractures that occur around the knee are:
- Tibial plateau fracture
- Fractures of the Proximal Tibia (Shinbone)
- Femur (thigh bone) fracture where break is closer (proximal) to the knee
- Kneecap (patella) fracture
- Fibula fracture
You Get Full Value for Pain and Suffering by Looking at Past Jury Verdicts
I use the following numbers as a starting point only for the full value of various knee injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence in a Florida accident.
I found the full values by doing past jury verdict research for Florida accidents with similar injuries.
- Broken knee (patella) without surgery: $50,000 to $75,000
- Torn meniscus without surgery: $15,000 and $30,000; could be more.
- Surgery to Fix a Meniscus Tear in your knee: $35,000 and $80,000 or so.
- Partial Patellectomy: $100,000 to $200,000
- ORIF surgery on a Patella Fracture: You Could Argue $100,000 to $200,000
Bones That Make Up The Knee
The knee joint moves due to the tendons that join the knee bones to the leg muscles.
Ligaments in the Knee
Ligaments connect the knee bones and make the knee more stable. The ligaments that make up the knee are the:
- Medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
The medial and lateral menisci are shock absorbers between the tibia and the femur. The menisci have a C-shape.
There are many different causes of knee pain. Here, I focus on knee injuries that can be caused by an accident (trauma).
The femur and tibia may be pushed out of alignment. The patella may also slide out of location.
Dislocations can be caused by car, truck and motorcycle accidents.
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Strain or Tear
Get fast facts that you need to know about ACL injury claims from car accidents, falls and more.
$20,000 Settlement for ACL Sprain/Tear and Other Injuries from Car Accident
She claimed that the accident caused or aggravated her ACL sprain/tear. She had other injuries.
How much do insurance companies pay for a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) strain or tear?
A posterior cruciate ligament may be injured from an impact to the front of your knee while its bent. This frequently happens from car accidents.
For example, a PCL tear could happen if you are getting into a car and the driver drives off before you get in. If you strike the front of your knee, you may suffer a PCL tear. Uber and Lyft passengers, or passengers in general, can suffer a PCL tear.
PCL tears can cause pain, swelling, and knee instability. A PCL tear happens less often than an ACL tears.
Physical therapy is frequently the most effective treatment for a PCL tear.
As with all tear cases, look at the MRI report to see how it describes the PCL tear. If the MRI calls it an acute PCL injury, this means that the injury is recent. This is good for your personal injury case if the MRI was done shortly after the accident.
Let’s say that your injure your knee in a car accident. Somewhere between 42 and 89 days later, you get an MRI. It shows a subacute PCL tear. Your doctor will (hopefully) state that the accident caused this injury. This makes your case easier to prove than if the MRI said that you had a chronic PCL tear.
I’ve also seen radiologists describe a compression fracture as subacute.
MCL (medial collateral ligament) tear or strain
Injuries to the MCL are usually caused by a direct impact to the outside of the knee. This injury can cause pain and possible instability to the inner part of the knee.
Damage to a meniscus, the cartilage that cushions the knee, often occurs with twisting or pivoting of the knee. Big tears can cause the knee to lock.
You can tear your meniscus in a car accident, or other type of accident.
You can stretch or tear your quadriceps tendon or tear your patellar tendon from a direct blow to the front of your knee, falling or landing improperly.
Other knee injuries that you may get from an accident are:
- Plica in the Knee
- Knee effusion: Fluid buildup inside the knee, usually from inflammation. Any form of arthritis or injury may cause a knee effusion.
- Knee bursitis: Pain, swelling, and heat in any of the bursae of the knee. Bursitis frequently happens from overuse or injury.
I wrote a separate article on knee injury claims from slip, trip and falls in Florida and on cruises.
Online Settlement Calculators for Knee Injuries in Florida Auto Accidents
If you have a serious knee injury from a Florida auto accident, I strongly suggest that you do not value your case based on an online settlement calculator.
There are many reasons why settlement calculators do not work for Florida injury cases. This is true whether you are looking at my Florida injury settlement calculator or one that someone else made.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your knee injury in an accident in a Florida auto accident? Were you hurt in another type of accident?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.