What You Should Know About Car Crashes and a Torn Meniscus?

Post By Corey Heit

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, “Any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus.” Car accidents and truck crashes twist and rotate knees forcefully. This is especially true for drivers whose vehicles get struck by another negligent or reckless driver.

Think of your natural reaction when bracing for impact. You will stomp on the brake. A knee locked straight will twist unnaturally as the rest of your body recoils from the blow inflicted by the other vehicle.

The Trouble With Meniscus Tears

Many of my Columbus, Ohio, personal injury clients come to me with meniscus tears in addition to the other injuries they suffered in crashes caused by someone else. While the knee injury may not be the most severe problem they are experiencing, it does make resuming and enjoying their normal activities difficult.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons lists the symptoms of a torn meniscus as

  • Pain,
  • Stiffness,
  • Swelling,
  • Locking of the joint
  • Feeling like the injured knee is “giving way,” and
  • Limited range of motion.

A meniscus tear rarely heals on its own because of what the meniscus is and what it does. Each knee joint contains two menisci. These are cartilage pads that prevent the thigh bone, knee cap and tibia (the larger shin bone) from rubbing against each other. Each meniscus also acts as a shock absorber, making it possible to walk, run and pivot without damaging the heads of the bones that meet at the knee.

Once a meniscus tears, use of the knee prevents healing and may exacerbate the condition. Consequently, symptoms of a meniscus tear usually worsen over time. Surgical repair or a complete knee replacement is sometimes required.

Until some permanent fix is achieved, a car or truck crash victim with a torn meniscus will find walking painful. Their injured knee may lock up if they sit to long. They may need to stop exercising or even find a new job that requires less standing and moving around.

What You Can Do if a Crash Caused by Someone Else Tears Your Meniscus

When someone crashes into you and inflicts injuries, you clearly have grounds for filing an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. At the same time, you will probably never hear about anyone receiving their “torn meniscus car accident settlement in Ohio” or “winning their torn meniscus lawsuit in Ohio.”

First, knee injuries from car crashes simply do not merit the headline treat of traumatic brain injuries. Second, as noted above, the torn meniscus is usually just one of the harms suffered by the victim of a negligent or reckless driver. An insurance settlement or award from a lawsuit will include monetary damages for all the injuries.

Neither of those facts means that a person who suffers a meniscus tear in a car accident or truck crash should exclude the knee injury from their claims against the at-fault driver. A victim must understand, however, that an at-fault driver’s insurance company or defense attorney will work hard to disqualify a torn meniscus claim.

Each meniscus in a person’s knee wears down over time, and that natural weakening and fraying of the cartilage increases with use. Athletes and people with physically demanding jobs are prone to meniscus tears. So is anyone who is middle-aged or older. Because of this, insurance reps and defense attorneys will argue that a knee injury was a preexisting condition that did not occur in the crash.

The only way to defeat such an argument is to present convincing medical evidence that conclusively shows that the meniscus tore as a result of the collision. Partnering with an experienced personal injury lawyer can also help with securing expert testimony that refutes statements made by the insurance company or defense attorney.

Cory Heit of Westerville-based Heit Law is a personal injury lawyer serving accident victims in Columbus and throughout Franklin County. You can schedule a free consultation online or call Corey at (614) 898-5300.

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