Knee injuries make up probably 10% of our law firm’s car accident caseload. This is consistent with studies that show how often knee injuries occur in car accidents.
What is the settlement value of a knee injury case? Below we discuss the average and median settlement amounts of these knee injury claims. We also list more statistics, relevant medical literature, and the importance of expert testimony.
Our lawyers have successfully handled scores of serious knee injury cases, including a $5.2 million verdict in a knee injury case. We fight for our clients. Call (800) 553-8082 or get a free online consultation.
What Is the Average and Median Knee Injury Settlement?
According to a Jury Verdict Research study on knee injuries:
- The average verdict in a severe knee injury case is $359,149
- The median knee injury verdict is $114,299
- 8% of knee injury verdicts were over $1,000,000
There are several factors to consider when looking at these numbers. First, JVR defines “severe” as knee dislocation, fractures, replacements, and aggravation of a preexisting knee injury. Aggravation of a preexisting knee injury is subjective and harder to define, possibly bringing the average verdict down.
Secondly, half of the cases in the study were car accident lawsuits and the other half were all other lawsuits. In Maryland, by contrast, around 75% of knee injury cases are from car accidents. We have fewer premises liability cases due to our contributory negligence law.
JVR does not provide the average accident knee injury verdict in motor vehicle collision cases. However, the median is probably more illustrative. The median knee injury verdict in a car accident case is $94,406. Interestingly, the middle 50%—the 25th to the 75th percentile—ranges from $26,255-$216,726. That is a large range, and the bottom quartile is likely made up of minor injury cases.
What Do Knee Injury Verdict Statistics Tell Us?
Below are more knee injury verdict statistics:
- Intersection collision accidents have a median of $70,748. The middle 50% range is $28,250-$237,500.
- Pedestrian accidents have a median of $150,000. The middle 50% range is $80,071-$240,000.
- Turning collision car accidents have a median of $90,203. The middle 50% range is $34,750-$192,038.
- Motorcycle collisions have a median verdict of $191,884. The middle 50% range is $83,300-$287,500.
- Rear-end crashes have a median verdict of $9,095. The middle 50% range is $1,624-$41,098.
Motorcycle and Pedestrian Settlement Compensation Is Higher
Motorcycle accidents and pedestrian crashes often involve the most serious knee injuries. But it is amazing how many motorcycle accident lawsuits involve contested liability. For whatever reason, juries don’t like motorcyclists. This is unfair, but good counsel can overcome the challenge.
Remember that worker’s compensation cases have an entirely different, lower output formula to calculate the value of knee injuries that happen on the job.
The average compensation payout for rear-end collisions is lower because the mechanism is less severe in these car accidents. Many knee injury claims from rear-end accidents are based on preexisting injuries, which are the toughest cases to bring and generally have lower settlement amounts.
Additionally, there are few serious “knee injuries only” injuries in rear-end car accidents. If you hurt your knee badly in a rear-end accident, chances are you have additional injuries that are also serious.
- Get example knee injury settlements and verdicts
- ACL injuries and their settlement value
- Get leg injury verdicts generally
- ACL trauma knee injuries
- Meniscus tears and their settlement value
Does Good Expert Testimony Help Settlement Value?
The treatment and prognosis of knee injuries have evolved as much as any other traumatic injury over the last 10 years. There is a greater understanding of the knee’s mechanics. New technologies allow doctors to better diagnose, treat, and understand the long-term consequences of knee injuries.
What Is the Biggest Factor in That Drives Settlement Amounts in Knee Injury Claims?
The biggest factor that drives knee injury case values is whether there was a surgery. I don’t have statistics on this. But our lawyers universally find compensation payouts higher in knee surgery cases.
These improvements have consequences in the legal sphere. A medical expert’s explanation of the function of the knee joint and the effect the injury will have on the patient is a critical component in how much a jury will award if the case goes to trial.
The expert—an unbiased treating doctor, in a perfect world—needs to take the jury through the x-rays, CAT scans, MRI studies, and the arthroscopic examination of the surfaces of the involved bones.
This is significantly easier in knee fracture or dislocation cases. Instead, many serious knee injuries are soft tissue injuries involving one or more of the non-bone structures of the knee. In car accidents, these injuries often occur when trauma to the thigh or shin bone is accompanied by an opposite force directed against the foot, resulting in torque that is violently transmitted to the knee.
You need a qualified expert to explain why a soft tissue knee injury can be serious — a heart attack is also a soft tissue injury — and how it is an injury that can haunt a patient for the rest of their lives.
It is critical that the expert articulates all the long-term effects. The defense expert will have some song and dance about how degenerative changes like arthritis would have occurred even without the crash because of the normal aging process. Our experts need to confront these defenses head-on before they gain currency with the jury. In most cases, science, and medical records are on our side.
What Key Medical Studies That Come Up in Litigation?
These are some leading articles from the medical literature discussing traumatic knee injuries that experts sometimes rely upon (directly or indirection) in knee injury litigation:
- Sheth U, et al. Early surgery of multi-ligament knee injuries may yield better results than delayed surgery: a systematic review. J ISAKOS, 2019, 4(1):26-32. A study of 260 patients found that for multi-ligament knee injuries, better results were seen in patients who got surgery more quickly.
- Everhart JS, et al. Return to work or sport after multi-ligament knee injury: a systematic review of 21 studies and 524 patients. Arthroscopy, 2018, 34(5):1708-1716. This study deals with an issue our clients often face, i.e. trying to go back to work after surgery. This study underscores the challenges for patients trying to get back to work or to play sports
- LaPrade, RF, et al. The Prevalence of Abnormal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Asymptomatic Knees. Am J Sports Med, 1994, 22:739-745. Defense lawyers use this article to pin meniscus tears on a prior event. This study found that even among people under the age of 40 who have no history of a knee injury, six percent show a meniscus tear on an MRI. They often point to this study as well that provides the statistics for people aged 50-90 (19% to 56%).
- Atkinson T, et al. Knee injuries in motor vehicle collisions: A study of the National Accident Sampling System database for the years 1979–1995. Accid Anal Prev., 2000, 32:779–786. This oft-cited study underscores a fact that defense lawyers like to ignore: that the lion’s share of serious knee injury cases are not from crashes that occur at extremely high speeds.
Knee Injury Verdicts and Settlements
- 2021, Virginia: $475,000 Settlement. A pedestrian was struck at a crosswalk. She suffered a left tibial plateau fracture and a concussion. The woman underwent an open reduction internal fixation procedure. She also received rehabilitative care. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he failed to yield to a pedestrian and maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $475,000.
- 2021, Missouri: $100,000 Settlement. A man was struck. He tore his left meniscus. The man also suffered spinal injuries. He underwent knee surgery and chiropractic treatment. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The man claimed she failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $100,000.
- 2021, Washington: $695,000 Settlement. A 54-year-old dump truck driver was struck by a snowplow. He suffered a concussion and the aggravation of his pre-existing right knee, neck, and lumbar injuries. The man initially received steroid and cortisone injections. Within a year, he also underwent a total knee replacement and an L4-S1 fusion. The man continued to experience chronic lumbar pain. He treated it with narcotics. The man alleged negligence against the snowplow driver. He claimed he failed to stop and maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $695,000.
- 2020, California: $3,500,000 Settlement. A 32-year-old motorcyclist was T-boned. He fractured his left femur, left patella, left tibia and fibula, right scapula, right clavicle, pelvis, and right heel. The man also suffered right lung contusions, hematuria, and arterial injuries. He developed rhabdomyolysis, anemia, lactic acidosis, and leukocytosis. The man underwent a below-the-knee amputation. He was left with acute pain and emotional distress. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he made a negligent left turn and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. This case settled for $3,500,000.
- 2020, Washington: $4,500,000 Verdict. A 30-year-old pipe layer helped renovate a school. He became caught between the excavator bucket and spreader bar. He suffered a meniscus tear. The man underwent a knee arthroscopy. He sustained cartilage defects behind his kneecap. The man alleged negligence against the general contractor. He claimed it failed to maintain safe working conditions. The man received a $4,500,000 verdict.
- 2020, Arkansas: $1,002,411 Verdict. An 84-year-old woman tripped on an elevated threshold outside of a supermarket restroom. She fractured her right patella and left humerus. The woman underwent knee surgery. She alleged negligence against the supermarket. The woman claimed its staff failed to adequately maintain the premises, inspect them, warn of the hazard, properly train employees. She received a $1,002,411 verdict.