The knee is one of the most common joints to sustain injuries. It bears some or all of your weight when you walk, run, lift, and jump. It must provide flexibility and strength for you to engage in your daily activities.
But the knee is a complicated structure. It contains bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Damage to any of these structures can cause pain and weakness. It could even limit your range of motion, interfering with your work and recreational activities.
Here is some information about knee injuries and the compensation you might seek for them.
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How Do Knee Injuries Happen?
The knee consists of the joint between the femur in your upper leg and the tibia and fibula in the lower leg. The patella or kneecap sits over the joint.
Several ligaments hold these bones together. These include the:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Patellar ligament (sometimes mistakenly called the patellar tendon)
These ligaments connect the femur, tibia, fibula, and patella. They stabilize the knee. The muscles of the leg connect to the knee via tendons.
The most important tendons include the:
- Quadriceps tendon
- Iliotibial band (I-band or ITB)
- Hamstring tendons
These tendons help the muscles move the joint. They provide strength and movement to the knee.
Articular cartilage covers the ends of the bones and a soft layer of cartilage called the meniscus sits between the bones. The cartilage cushions the joints and allows the bones to move smoothly, rather than grinding against each other.
Knee injuries can happen in many ways, including:
A force can tear tendons, ligaments, or cartilage. This force might come from outside the body, like an impact from a car accident. It can also come from the weight of the body itself, such as when you hyperextend your knee during a slip and fall accident.
An impact can fracture bones. In addition to a painful bone fracture, bone fragments can fall into the knee joint. There, they can press on nerves, ligaments, and tendons. They can even tear cartilage.
In some cases, an avulsion fracture can happen in the knee. An avulsion fracture occurs when a bone fractures near the attachment point for a tendon or ligament. The tendon or ligament separates from the bone with a bone fragment attached.
Repetitive motions can wear the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage of the knee. They can also cause cracks to form in the bones, resulting in stress fractures. Inflammation from repetitive motions can pinch, irritate, or fray nerves.
Overuse often happens as a result of your work. Repetitive walking, lifting, and carrying can cause stress injuries.
How Common Are Knee Injuries?
Knee injuries can result from damage to any of the knee structures. Some common knee injuries include:
When the meniscus tears, the bones in the knee come close to grinding against each other. Fragments from the torn meniscus can lodge between the bones, limiting the motion and causing pain.
Common symptoms of a torn meniscus include:
- Limited range of motion
Doctors have many options for repairing a torn meniscus. They can prescribe rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories. They can try to close the tear through arthroscopic surgery. They operate to remove the torn pieces of the meniscus. Finally, they can opt to replace the knee joint entirely.
A sprain happens when a ligament, such as the ACL or MCL, stretches or tears.
Doctors usually rate sprains on a scale of one to three. A Grade 1 sprain involves stretching but no tearing. A Grade 2 sprain involves a partial tear. A Grade 3 sprain involves a complete tear.
Symptoms of a stretched or torn ligament include:
- Pop at the time of the injury
The severity of the sprain will determine the treatment. A Grade 1 sprain might only require rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medication. A Grade 3 sprain might require surgical repair.
Tendinitis happens with overuse. Repetitive actions cause tears in the patellar tendon. Inflammation occurs naturally as the body tries to repair these tears. But as the tears accumulate through repetitive use, the inflammation becomes chronic.
Symptoms of patellar tendinitis include:
Doctors typically treat tendonitis with rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Among the four bones that meet in the knee, the patella is the most susceptible to fractures. A fractured patella usually results from an impact directly on the kneecap from a car accident or a fall.
Symptoms of a fractured patella include:
- Deformed appearance of the knee
- Limited or no motion when extending the knee
Doctors treat a fractured patella with surgery. If the patella fractured into large pieces, surgeons might reconstruct the patella with screws and plates. If the patella shattered into pieces too small to reconstruct, surgeons might remove some or all of the patella.
What Compensation Can I Recover for a Knee Injury?
The compensation you can seek for a knee injury will depend on how you received your injury. If you sustained your knee injury at work through a workplace accident or repetitive motions, you can seek workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits pay 100% of your necessary medical expenses and two-thirds of your weekly wage while you recover.
If you sustained your knee injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation to cover:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost income
- Diminished future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Many knee injuries require surgery to repair. The compensation you recover from the at-fault party should cover your surgery as well as your post-operative therapy and medication.
Depending on your job, you might need to miss work or reduce your hours due to your knee injury. Your compensation can include your lost income for this missed work.
If you need to change jobs or retire due to a permanent knee disability, you can claim your diminished earning capacity for the rest of your working life.
Pain and suffering damages compensate you for your diminished quality of life due to your injury. These damages cover your physical pain, mental suffering, inconvenience, and loss of activities due to your knee injury.
Contact a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer for Help
Contact the skilled attorneys at WGK Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek for your knee injury. During your appointment, you can discuss the facts of your case with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney and discover your next steps to pursue justice.