Are meniscus tear cases worth a lot?
They can be. A meniscus tear can be painful and debilitating.
What is an insurance company’s big defense in a meniscus tear case?
The claims adjuster may argue that you didn’t twist your knee, and therefore you couldn’t have torn your meniscus from the accident.
Since twisting your knee can tear the meniscus, the insurer may argue that without twisting your knee, you can’t tear your meniscus.
I’ve had a claims adjuster argue that my client, a driver, in a car couldn’t have torn her meniscus in a crash. That case still settled for $30,000.
All settlements on this page are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
What symptoms increase the value of a meniscus tear case?
Certain symptoms increase the full value of your meniscus tear case. As frequency of these symptoms increases, so does the full value of the claim.
The following symptoms may raise the full value of a case for settlement purposes:
- Knee gets locked up or stuck
- Hard time straightening and bending the leg
- Pain in your knee
Does a meniscus tear add value to your case if it happens along with an ACL injury?
An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury can happen at the same time as a meniscus tear. If you suffer both at the same time, this increases the full value of the case.
The full value of two injuries is worth more than one injury. This is true, whether you have a broken wrist or any other injury along with a meniscus tear.
Do you have a case if you don’t complain of bad pain soon after an accident?
Maybe. Sometimes, immediately following a meniscus tear, your pain may be mild. You may still have a solid case even if you don’t complain of bad pain at the time of your accident.
However, the liability insurer may argue that you couldn’t have torn your meniscus in the accident if you didn’t have bad pain.
After you tear your meniscus, it becomes inflamed. This typically causes bad pain. Your case is stronger if this pain is noted in the medical records shortly after an accident.
Can you get paid for your medical bills if you tear your meniscus in a Florida or cruise accident?
If someone’s negligence caused your meniscus tear in Florida or on a cruise, they are liable for your:
All of those exams increase the full value of your case because they drive up your out of pocket medical bills and/or liens.
You may also be entitled to compensation for other damages as well.
Is your case worth less if your meniscus heals on its own?
The full value of your claim is lower if your tear heals on its own. The “red zone”, which is the outside part of the meniscus, has good blood supply. Small tears in this portion may heal on their own.
Is your case worth more if your meniscus tear doesn’t heal on its own?
The full value for settlement purposes is higher. The inner two-thirds of the meniscus has poor blood supply. It is called the white zone.
A tear in this portion won’t heal on its own. This is because this portion doesn’t have blood vessels to provide healing nutrients.
Your case has a higher full value if your meniscus tear doesn’t heal on its own.
Is a case worth less if you don’t have surgery on a meniscus tear?
Yes. The full settlement value of the case is lower without surgery.
Many meniscus tears don’t need surgery. It will depend on your symptoms.
If your knee is ok, your symptoms go away, and your knee isn’t getting “stuck”, you may not need surgery.
If you don’t need surgery, the full value of your case is lower.
How does it affect your case if you tear your meniscus and you also suffer a fracture on the same leg?
Let’s say that a driver of a car causes your accident. You fracture your patella (kneecap). You also tear your meniscus on the same leg.
Let’s assume the orthopedic doctor does surgery on both your fractured kneecap and your torn meniscus on the same leg.
If so, perhaps you can add an additional $50,000 for the meniscus tear, if that, to the full value of the pain and suffering component of your case.
You add that amount to the full value of the pain and suffering component of a patella fracture. The same is true if you tear your meniscus and you have a tibial plateau fracture. The tibial plateau is the upper part of the tibia (shinbone) that involves the knee joint.
Let’s look at some settlements for a detached or torn meniscus.
$300K Settlement for Detached Meniscus, and Leg Fracture (Car Accident)
Ryan lived in Georgia. He was in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida for work. Ryan was driving a rental car. Another driver made a left turn into Ryan’s rental car.
This case settled in 2017. See more about this $300,000 settlement. This is one of my many settlements for out of state visitors who are injured in a Florida car accident.
$100K Settlement for Possible Meniscus Tear (Motorcycle Accident in Miami)
A young man was riding his motorcycle heading straight on a road in Miami, Florida. Another car made a left hand turn. They crashed.
The motorcyclist complained of knee pain.
GEICO insured the car that hit him.
The motorcycle rider hired me to represent him in his personal injury claim against GEICO. The motorcyclist had an MRI of both knees. His own doctor said that his knee didn’t have a meniscus tear.
However, I sent the MRI disc to GEICO. GEICO hired a doctor (a radiologist, Avinash Balkissoon, M.D.) to read the MRI.
The good news for the motorcycle rider’s injury case?
Surprisingly, Dr. Balkissoon said that the MRI of his knee showed a meniscus tear. Specifically, it was a small partial peripheral undersurface posterior horn medial meniscus tear.
After GEICO’s doctor saw the meniscus tear, I asked my client’s doctor to take another look at the MRI. He did. Robert Martinez, M.D. said that it showed:
minimal irregularity of the inferior articular surface of the peripheral aspect of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus seen only on a single sequence image of the proton density sagittal. This is not confirmed on any other sequence. This may represent fraying of the undersurface. If the patient’s clinical symptoms are at this location, then a meniscal tear should be considered; however, a frank tear is not demonstrated on these views.
The motorcycle rider also was diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED), and a herniated disc. A car hit him when he was on a motorcycle.
GEICO insured the careless driver. We settled for the careless driver’s BI limits of $100,000. The date of the settlement was in 2014.
Lady Gets $30K Settlement for Meniscus Tear from Orlando Car Crash
Check out my $30,000 settlement after a driver was rear ended in Orlando, Florida. The photo above is of the damage to the back of her car.
Her MRI showed that she had a tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus with knee joint effusion and signs of chondromalacia patellae. We sent the MRI report and bill to the USAA. USAA insured the careless driver who crashed into the back of her car.
Her knee pain was rated as a 4-6 on a scale from 1-10, with symptoms worsening with increased activity and worse when using stairs. Her knee was tender.
Dr. Gupta recommended arthroscopic knee surgery or steroids injections.
Knee arthroscopy is a surgical technique that can diagnose and treat problems in the knee joint. During the procedure, your surgeon will make a very small incision and insert a tiny camera — called an arthroscope — into your knee. This allows them to view the inside of the joint on a screen. The surgeon can then investigate a problem with the knee and (if necessary) correct the issue using small instruments within the arthroscope.
She told her doctor she wanted to take time to carefully think about her options.
She also complained of back pain.
Some Doctors Will Not Say that a Car Accident Caused her Meniscus Tear
I asked her doctor if he would write a short statement giving his opinion as to whether the crash caused her meniscus tear.
I spoke with Dr. Gupta’s staff. They said that Dr. Gupta could not say one way or the other whether the tear was caused by the crash. They said this because Dr. Gupta only saw her twice. This is bad testimony if you want good compensation for your meniscus injury.
I do not know whether the doctor would have said that the car wreck aggravated her meniscus tear (if he believed that she had it before the crash).
Tip: In order to get compensation for your injury in Florida, the doctor needs to state that the crash caused or aggravated a pre-existing injury.
Given the severity of her symptoms, five months later, she decided to seek a second opinion. She sought care with Dr. Simon from National Orthopedics and Neurosurgery.
He noted that she had continued pain on her knee caused by the crash. Her level of pain was noted as a 7-8 on a scale from 1-10.
She described the pain in her knee as intermittent, “dull and achy.” Intermittent means “comes and goes.”
The doctor examined her knee and noted that she had restricted range of motion and tenderness.
Dr. Simon discussed (with her) different treatment options, including additional physical therapy, injections, and surgical intervention.
Risks of Meniscus Surgery
The doctor discussed the risks of the surgery with her again, including “failure to relieve pain, loss of function, damage to nerves and vessels, deformity and scarring, possible infections, prolonged hospitalizations, etc.”
Dr. Simon explained that during surgery two or three incisions to the knee would be made and a camera would be inserted to allow him to correct abnormalities found.
He advised her that there may be some abnormalities he would not be able to correct and/or would have to be treated with another surgery.
Dr. Simon warned her that he could not determine how long she would be in crutches or out of work. Neither could he guarantee how much pain relief, if any, would be obtained from the surgery.
She decided not to have surgery. If she would’ve had surgery, it would have significantly increased the value of her case.
USAA paid us $30,000 to settle her personal injury case. The check is below.
$10K Settlement for Meniscus Tear (Miami Beach Car Accident)
A driver rear ended our client’s car. Our client was driving. We settled this case in July 2015.
The crash happened in Miami Beach in January 2015.
Our client’s doctor diagnosed him with a knee injury (meniscus tear). He had arthroscopic surgery, in his native country, to fix it.
This is one of my many personal injury settlements.
Defense Doctor Can Say that Meniscus Tear is Unlikely to Be Caused by Kneecap Hitting the Dashboard
Let’s look at the case of Kochalka v. Bourgeois, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2015. This isn’t my case.
Ms. Bourgeois sued Ms. Kochalka for injuries she claimed to have sustained when Ms. Kochalka rear-ended her car while it was stopped at an ice cream shop’s drive-through window.
One of Ms. Bourgeois’ claimed injuries was a torn meniscus in her knee. She claimed that it happened when she struck her kneecap on the dashboard during the accident.
Insurance company doctors may lower the value of a personal injury claim. Here is an example.
Ms. Kochalka had an orthopedic surgeon who was ready to testify that from an orthopedic standpoint that was not possible.
In order for the meniscus to tear, the defense doctor said that there had to be a rotational or twisting injury, not a blunt force one.
The defense doctor said that a knee hitting the dashboard is an unlikely mechanism of injury to tear a meniscus or a cartilage.
The defense doctor said that:
you may injure your kneecap joint or the kneecap, which is typically what dashboard injuries have been thought to cause. However, you’re not going to be at a significant likelihood of tearing your meniscus because there is really no forces imparted to the meniscus in that scenario. It’s off the kneecap, the thigh bone, and not to the tibia, not to the joint itself, other than the kneecap joint.
Insurance Company May Say That Meniscus Tears are Usually Caused by Weight-Bearing Injury
The defense doctor was asked how are medial meniscus injured. He answered:
When meniscus tears are the result of trauma… it’s usually a mechanism of injury that’s typically weight-bearing. So the meniscus is caught, pinched or squeezed between the femur and the tibia, and then typically with the meniscus caught between those two bones typically a twisting or a turning moment or a pivoting moment can do it, but also any other significant trauma which basically acts to either twist or turn or to forcibly force the leg in one position or another would apply—they would apply forces to the meniscus and tear it, but it’s got to be a force that interacts—that affects that contact between the tibia and the femur because that’s where the meniscus sits, in between those two bones.
The appeals court said that the defense doctor was allowed to say that it is unlikely that the dashboard injury caused the meniscus tear. It ordered a new trial. This was bad news for the victim.
Even though the insurance companies make this argument, I’ve settled cases where my client claimed that their torn meniscus was caused by the kneecap striking the dashboard during the car accident.
However, insurance companies may argue that it is not possible to tear a meniscus by striking the dashboard. Thus, don’t be surprised if State Farm, Progressive (now insuring Uber) or another insurance company makes a lower offer based on this argument.
When you’re deciding how much your case is worth, you may want to factor in the likelihood that a jury believes the defense doctor.
Shopper Wins $12K Against Target for Slip and Fall
This is not my case. See a $12,000 verdict where a shopper claimed that she slipped on a puddle of liquid inside a Target store. It happened in West Kendall, Florida.
She claimed that the fall caused her meniscus tear and surgery.
$4,300 Awarded for Pain and Suffering for Torn Meniscus Surgery and Other Injuries
$4,300 was awarded for the pain and suffering component of her claim.
I don’t know how much was awarded for her other damages. The case is Brachlow v. Publix.
Defense Says Horizontal Meniscus Tear Is Not Caused by Accident
This is not my case. On October 10, 2000, Elena was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an automobile accident with a pick-up truck driven by Mr. Sainz and owned by NAP Dispositions, Inc.
Dr. William Tejeiro, the orthopedist who examined Elena on the day of the subject accident in 2000, testified that based upon Elena’s complaints and the medical history she provided, which did not include the prior accident and injuries, he ordered several diagnostic tests. These included x-rays, an ultrasound, and an MRI, which confirmed that Elena had a tear to the meniscus of her left knee.
According to Dr. Tejeiro, Elena “had a black and blue mark over her knee with swelling, and there were signs of a meniscus tear” to her left knee.
I can’t emphasize this enough. If you have bruising or swelling on your knee, take photos of it. It can be the difference between winning and losing your case. Insurance adjusters like to see photos of bruising or swelling.
The defendants’ expert, Dr. Elliott Lang, an orthopedic surgeon, testified that the tear to Elena’s meniscus was a horizontal tear. He said that horizontal tears are degenerative (not caused by an accident).
Defense Doctor Says Dashboard Injuries Cause Vertical, Not Horizontal, Tears
Dr. Lang said that if Elena hit the dashboard, as she claimed, the tear would have been a vertical tear, not a horizontal tear. He also said that the tear to the meniscus pre-dated the subject accident.
Dr. Lang’s testimony, therefore, was consistent with the MRI findings by Dr. Mendez, who opined that the meniscus tearing was degenerative. (I don’t know who hired Dr. Mendez.)
It gets worse for Elena.
A trial, Dr. Aptman, the defense neurologist expert, testified that Elena told him that she did not have any direct trauma as a result of the subject accident.
If you don’t tell a doctor your injuries, they will not put them in their medical records. This, in turn, lowers the case value.
If you’re claiming that hitting the dashboard caused your horizontal meniscus tear, don’t be surprised if the insurance company argues that you had the tear before the accident. This is true whether you’re dealing with Travelers, Safeco (Liberty Mutual), Lyft or another company.
Arthroscopic Knee Surgery May Increase the Chance of a Total Knee Replacement
A 2016 medical publication described the link between a total knee replacement after a knee athroscopy on patients older than 50 years.
During the study period, a total of 68,090 patients older than 50 years underwent knee arthroscopy for partial meniscectomy, chondroplasty, or debridement. A partial meniscectomy is the surgical removal of part of a torn meniscus.
Reported rates of total knee arthoplasty (TKA) at 1, 2, and 3 years after arthroscopy were 10.1%, 13.7%, and 15.6%, respectively. An arthroplasty is a joint replacement.
You should send this study to the responsible party’s insurance company if you’ve had a knee arthroscopy for partial meniscectomy, chondroplasty, or debridement. You should also get your doctor to mention this study in your medical records. This study may get the insurance company to pay you more money for your personal injury claim.
Because knee replacements have a high full value for settlement purposes.
Check out my other articles on:
- Knee injury claims from Florida car, truck and motorcycle accidents
- Knee Injury Claims for Slip, Trip and Falls in Florida and on Cruises
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