Knee Injuries and Auto Accidents

During football season, we tend to associate knee injuries with players running down on the field. But it is off the field—specifically, in our cars—where most of us face a more significant risk of knee injury. In fact, knee injuries are among the most common results of automobile collisions, imposing serious health and financial consequences upon their victims.

When we speak of “knee” injuries, we are actually talking about several different parts that make up that area of the body. Medical professionals classify the most common types of knee injuries based on the four major ligaments that make up the knee: the ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL.

ACL stands for “anterior cruciate ligament.” The ACL is the most commonly injured ligament, accounting for about 70 percent of all knee injuries, according to medical professionals. ACL injuries usually result from hyperextension of the knee. In an automobile accident, this can occur if the knee is twisted during a crash or makes contact with the interior of the vehicle. If the ACL is torn as the result of an accident, your knee will not able to bear weight, and surgery is often necessary to reconstruct the ligament, followed by several months of rehabilitation.

PCL stands for “posterior cruciate ligament.” The PCL is often injured in an automobile accident when the victim's knee comes into sudden, direct contact with the vehicle's dashboard. While injuries to the PCL are less common than those to the ACL, a PCL injury rarely occurs in isolation--it is usually accompanied by serious damage to other ligaments and parts of the knee.

MCL stands for “medial collateral ligament.” This is the most commonly sprained part of the knee. While sprains are generally treatable without extensive medical intervention, if the MCL is torn during an automobile accident, it can cause swelling, pain, instability, and can limit flexibility.

LCL stands for “lateral collateral ligament,” and is the final major part of the knee. LCL injuries are similar to those experienced in the MCL. In an accident, LCL and MCL tears require significant force to tear the ligament, usually from a direct impact that forces the knee sideways. The victim will often hear or experience a “popping” sensation in the affected knee if there is damage to the LCL or MCL. The location of any pain often indicates which ligament is damaged: LCL injuries produce pain on the outside of the knee, while MCL injuries cause pain on the inside.

If you experience any symptoms of knee damage, such as swelling, instability, or limitation of motion, it is important you seek medical treatment without delay. It is essential for a physician to perform an X-ray, MRI, or similar test to determine whether there are any ligament tears or other serious knee damage that require surgery.

Serious knee injuries often require months of medical care and rehabilitation. That is why, if your knee injury is the result of an automobile accident where you were not at fault, it is imperative you work with an experienced New York personal injury attorney. Contact our office today if you have any questions.