Many people who are involved in car crashes suffer knee injuries, usually from their knees slamming into the dashboard, glove compartment, steering wheel or back of the seat in front of them. Airbags can help prevent some, but not all, knee injuries.
While they aren’t as serious as many other types of crash-related injuries, they can nonetheless be extremely painful and debilitating. Medical treatment, physical therapy and sometimes even surgery may be necessary.
Anyone who has injured their knee playing sports or even in a fall has learned how complicated the knee is. It contains bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons that must all be able to work together to support your body and move your legs.
4 common types of knee injuries
There are four main types of knee injuries you’re likely to suffer in a wreck:
- Dislocated and/or fractured patella (kneecap): If it’s “simply” dislocated, it can be put back in place. Only a doctor should do this, even if you have a friend who swears they can do it for you. X-rays need to be taken to confirm whether or not there’s also a fracture.
- Torn meniscus (cartilage): Often surgery is needed to fully repair it.
- Ruptured tendons: This typically occurs when the patella becomes dislocated and pushed on either the patellar or quadriceps tendon. This can cause severe pain and usually requires surgery.
- Torn ligaments: Several ligaments can be ruptured in a car crash. The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is most likely to tear. This is often called “dashboard knee.” While surgery may not be required, it can help people improve their mobility.
It’s always crucial to seek a medical evaluation after a car crash to rule out any life-threatening internal injuries and to find out precisely the extent of any injuries. If you’ve suffered a knee injury in a crash caused by another driver, you need to know what kind of treatment you’ll require, for how long, and how your work and your life will be impacted before you agree to any settlement. Legal guidance can help.