4 Types of Car Accident Knee Injuries

A lot of car accidents cause significant trauma to the knees, leading to a variety of knee injuries. Most of these injuries do heal and the accident victim is able to go back to work. But it can take months or longer to fully recover, and some never fully recover. Learn about the various types of car accident knee injuries, their effects on the victim, and options to recover damages. Call the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC at 214-290-8001 for help getting compensation.

Ligament Sprains

A ligament sprain occurs when the ligament suffers stretching or tears. The knee has four ligaments that may suffer damage in a car wreck:

  • An anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
  • A posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
  • Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
  • Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)

Doctors measure ligament injuries by the degree of damage. A grade 1 sprain is a slight stretching of the ligament, while a grade 2 sprain is a partial tear of the ligament and a grade 3 sprain is a complete tear. Most people with complete tears struggle to walk because of pain and instability. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited movement
  • Extreme tenderness

Doctors usually recommend the RICE method (rest, ice, compression with an elastic bandage or brace, and elevation) for immediate treatment. Some ligament tears require surgery. If you require surgery, it could be a year before you can return to normal activities. Patients may also undergo physical therapy whether or not they underwent surgery.

Ruptured Patellar Tendons

The patellar tendon attaches the kneecap to the shinbone. When it ruptures, it tears away from one of these connection points, preventing the patient from straightening his or her leg. Symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • An obvious indentation below the kneecap
  • Kneecap moving from its normal position
  • Difficulty straightening the leg or walking

A ruptured patellar tendon is a major injury. It causes disability and typically requires surgery and extensive physical therapy. Doctors attempt to perform surgery as soon as possible because early surgical intervention can help ensure a better outcome with fewer lasting effects.


When the kneecap dislocates, it typically slides to the outside of the leg. This injury is often obvious from the look of the knee alone. Symptoms include:

  • A deformed look to the knee
  • Inability to straighten the leg
  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness

If the dislocation did not damage the kneecap, it may heal within a few weeks using an immobilizing cast or brace. Physical therapy usually follows, helping strengthen the leg and recover range of motion.

If there is damage to the kneecap, surgery may be necessary. Doctors may also recommend surgery if the kneecap remains unstable after conservative treatment.


A car accident victim can sustain three different types of fractures in an accident: a stable fracture, a displaced fracture, or a comminuted fracture. The stable fracture is the least serious while a comminuted fracture is often very serious as the bone shatters into at least three pieces.

There are a number of treatments doctors use to help kneecap fractures heal. These depend heavily on your age, activity level, and type of fracture. Treatments may include:

  • Six to eight weeks in an immobilizing brace or cast
  • No weight-bearing on the leg until healed
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery

Kneecap fractures often require months to heal and sometimes lead to arthritis and other painful conditions. Symptoms of a kneecap fracture include pain, bruising, and swelling. Most people also struggle to straighten the leg or walk.

The Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC Can Help

Suffering a knee injury during a car accident can affect a victim’s life financially, physically, and emotionally. Knee injuries may lead to substantial medical bills, lost wages and reduced earning capacity (e.g., if you need to find another job or take a lower-paying position), and considerable pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one suffered knee injuries in a car accident, a car accident attorney from the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation, call us today at 214-290-8001.

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