Your knee is a deceptively complex joint. It brings together four bones, five ligaments, and some of the most powerful muscles in your body.
At the same time, your knee is susceptible to injury. A powerful force striking your knee in almost any direction can tear soft tissue or even fracture the bones. This could leave you with chronic pain and knee instability that could interfere with your ability to work or even walk.
Here are some facts to know about a knee injury and the compensation you can seek for accidents caused by another party.
What Is the Structure of the Human Knee?
Your knee is one of your most important joints. It allows you to bend your leg. It also provides the strength and flexibility to raise and lower your body, walk, or use stairs.
The knee sits at the junction of the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shin bone). Two more bones sit in the knee.
The fibula does not bear any weight. However, it provides stability to your leg by running from the knee to the ankle.
The patella (kneecap) sits over the knee. It protects the knee joint from impacts, particularly if you fall forward or get hit from the front.
Ligaments connect bones.
Five ligaments hold the knee together:
- Patellar ligament (sometimes mistakenly called the patellar tendon)
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
These ligaments keep the bones in the correct positions while providing strength and flexibility in the joint.
Two large muscle groups come together at the knee. Your thigh muscles attach to both the front and back of the knee. Your calf muscles attach to the femur just above your knee.
Cartilage plays a key role in the function of your knee. Without the meniscus and articular cartilage, your bones would grind against each other. Eventually, they would wear down and develop arthritis.
How Do Knee Injuries Happen?
Knee injuries can happen in many ways, including:
Bending your knee the wrong way can stretch and tear the ligaments and tendons. It can also tear cartilage.
An impact on your knee can fracture bones. It can also hyperextend the knee if it knocks your leg the wrong way.
Twisting or Slipping
A twisting or sliding motion, like when you trip or slip and fall, can tear cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
If you take a hard step, you can stretch or tear the ligaments or cartilage in your knee.
What Are the Types of Knee Injuries?
Knee injuries can take many different forms, depending on which structure gets injured. Some common knee injuries include:
Strained or Sprained Knee
A strain happens when you stretch or tear tendons or muscles.
Symptoms of a knee strain include:
- Knee weakness
- Muscle spasms
A sprain happens when you stretch or tear ligaments.
Symptoms of a knee sprain include:
- Popping sound or feeling at the time of injury
- Knee stiffness
- Knee instability
Mild strains and sprains heal on their own over about four to six weeks. Doctors often recommend rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication to control swelling and promote recovery.
A torn ligament or tendon might require surgery. After surgical repair, you will likely need months of physical therapy.
Cartilage lines the surfaces of the bones that come together in the knee. The meniscus sits on the tibia, and the articular cartilage sits on the end of the femur.
Cartilage can wear out over time due to repetitive motions. It can also tear due to trauma.
Symptoms of torn cartilage include:
- Catching or popping in the joint
- Stiffness and limited range of motion
Doctors now know that cartilage can regrow. But it grows very slowly. Recovery from torn knee cartilage may require you to stay off of your knee for a long time.
During this time, you may continue to experience pain and swelling when you overuse the knee. You may also develop arthritis in the knee due to wear on the joint caused by the lack of cartilage.
If the cartilage is caught in the knee, doctors may need to remove it surgically.
A fractured patella does not happen often. But in pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents, you can hit the pavement so hard that it fractures or even shatters your patella.
You do not need your patella. If the damage is too great, doctors will simply remove part or all of your patella. But in most cases, they will stabilize it with screws and plates. Then they will put you into a cast or brace so the bone can heal. A fractured bone usually heals in six to eight weeks.
What Compensation Is Available for a Knee Injury?
Your compensation will depend on how and where you got your knee injury. If you injured your knee at work, including through overuse or repetitive motions, you might be eligible for workers’ compensation.
If you were not on the job when you got injured, you could still receive compensation if your injury resulted from another person’s negligent or intentional actions. You can prove negligence by showing that the other person failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and caused your injury as a result.
Suppose that you suffered a knee injury in a car accident where the other driver hit the side of your car. If the other driver ran a stop sign, that driver acted negligently and may be liable for your damages.
Even though Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, you may be entitled to recover damages that aren’t covered by (or exceed) your Personal Injury Protection Insurance by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If you prove liability, your compensation will cover both your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include your financial expenses, including medical bills and lost income. Non-economic losses include all of the ways your injury reduced your quality of life. Examples include pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and inability to perform daily tasks.
Contact a Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer For Help After a Knee Injury
Knee injuries can temporarily or permanently disable you. To learn more about the compensation you can seek for your knee injury after an accident, contact Allen Law Firm, P.A. to schedule a no-cost consultation with a Gainesville personal injury attorney.