Knee Disclocations and Settlement Value

Knee dislocations are relatively rare in automobile accidents.  But we have seen a number of these recently so I’m writing today about these injuries and to give you some idea of the potential settlement value of these claims.

Knee Discloations in Car Accidents

knee-200x300Knee dislocations occur from athletics,  high energy impacts, such as a car crash, or low impact falls in people that are extremely overweight.  A dislocated knee is non-functional, often painful, and induces large abnormal strains on the collateral ligaments.   Because of the potential for neurovascular damage associated with the injury, knee dislocations are considered to be one of the most serious knee injuries.

In many personal injury claims, the insurance company in an accident case will allege that the knee injury is a preexisting injury.  But you do not see this very often with knee dislocations.  If you have a knee dislocation in a crash, there is usually little dispute about it.  You are going to see a dislocated knee from the very beginning.   The knee does not look good.  Fluid will swell the knee.  It will be angulated or crooked.  The patient will be in extreme pain.

Example Settlement and Verdicts

I do not have an average settlement value of a knee dislocation case. Sample verdicts and settlements cannot tell you the value of your case because there are too many variables of varying significance that cannot be accounted for, particularly in a short case summary.  But they are still instructive and help victim better understand the possible range of settlement value in your case.

One thing to keep in mind is that if there is a knee dislocation there often many other injuries which can confuse the value of the knee injury.  I’m omitting a $37 million verdict in California in 2017, for example, because the knee dislocation was just one of the victim’s injuries.

  • 2018, California, $90,147: A man on a motorcycle broadsided.  He dislocates his knee with tearing of his medial meniscus and anterior cruciate ligament.  Surprisingly, the jury only awards $90,147.
  • 2017, Florida, $90,000: This is the rare case where the employee sues the employer for negligence. Why isn’t there a workers’ comp claim?  The employer does not have comp insurance.  The plaintiff works at a daycare center in Miami.   The daycare installs a water slide.
    She files a lawsuit and contends that the slide was negligently installed, causing her to dislocate her right knee.  The injury required surgical repair. The jury finds the defendant daycare center 23% negligent and the plaintiff 77% comparatively negligent. The plaintiff is awarded $90,000 overall damages before the 23% reduction was applied.
  • 2017, Ohio, $70,000: A 49-year-old motorcyclist suffers a right knee dislocation.  I do not have much more facts than this.  It is certainly a low figure for a knee dislocation.
  • 2014, Maryland, $150,000:  The accident story is a little value but a woman is hit and forced into a telephone pole in Prince George’s County.  She suffers disc herniations and knee dislocations in both knees.   The verdict is only $150,000.

I think the value settlement value of knee dislocation cases is probably higher than the average of these four cases.  I know our experience with these cases involved much better results.  Again, I jumped over a lot of cases where the value seemed driven by so many other factors as to make the dislocated knee piece impossible to pull out.

Popliteal Artery Malpractice Lawsuits

Knee dislocation frequently causes injury to the popliteal artery.  One-quarter to one-half of all popliteal artery injuries are caused by traumatic injuries like car accidents.

The popliteal artery is the main artery located behind the knee.  The key to this artery is that is supplies virtually all of the blood to the leg below the knee. It is a direct continuation of one of the two major arteries of the thigh which is the superficial femoral artery.

Popliteal artery injuries can be a big deal if they are not promptly diagnosed and treated.  More popliteal artery injuries result in an amputation than any other arterial injury. Damage to adjacent tissues commonly accompanies vascular injuries, especially with blunt trauma. The severity of a popliteal artery injury is directly correlated to the presence and amount of ischemia or decreased blood supply.

The key is good treatment.  It is well recognized that knee dislocations present an increased risk of injury to the popliteal artery. The failure to recognize and treat a popliteal artery (or call in a vascular surgeon to see the patient) can cause lifelong injuries.  The biggest risk is amputation.  What happens all too often, usually in the emergency room is that delayed treatment causes distal vessel wall thrombosis and muscle necrosis.  This lack of blood cuts of the oxygen supply in that part of the knee.

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