Yes, you can indeed suffer a meniscus tear from a severe car accident. A meniscus tear occurs when the knee cartilage is torn. A meniscus tear is very painful because the tear leaves the knee with reduced cartilage, causing friction in the knee joint. The cartilage which usually protects can no longer offer the same degree of protection due to the meniscus tear.
Torn meniscus symptoms include swelling, knee pain, tenderness, popping, clicking from the knee, and of course, limited motion of the knee joint.
If you’ve had a car accident where meniscus injury may be present, it’s important to have the meniscus of the knee examined by either a hospital or your doctor. The examination will generally include a visual evaluation of the knee and oftentimes the doctor will order for an x-ray or perhaps an MRI to confirm the tear.
Treatment for a meniscus tear usually requires a surgical intervention. As with most knee injuries, the insurance company will always want to be convinced there was a mechanism of injury. The accident usually has to be pretty severe to prove the connection between the car accident and the meniscus tear. Absent excruciating pain reported at the scene of an accident or later at the hospital, they usually doubt meniscus tears from accidents.
Serious car accidents can cause knee injuries, especially if the knee is jammed into the dashboard of the car. This usually happens during frontal collisions and usually involving a twisting motion of the knee. A serious car accident can result in a tear of the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) of the knee joint.
The ACL offers stability to your knee. When the ACL is injured, many report the knee simply “gave way,” or they heard a loud pop, at the time of injury. ACL injury can lead to severe swelling, pain and tenderness of the knee.
Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose an ACL injury early in a personal injury case until the initial knee pain calms down. When the pain and swelling have diminished, the doctor can examine the knee to see if there is evidence of any ligament tear. An MRI will show the tear in the ligament, and may be helpful when proving your case to an insurance adjuster.
If the ACL tear from the accident is severe, a physician may recommend surgical intervention. Sometimes, the decision to have surgery involves not only the severity of the tear, but also the age of the patient and their normal level of activity.
The AC joint can be injured in a car accident. Generally speaking, the ligaments that support the AC joint can be injured in an auto accident. Sometimes, AC joint separation is also known as “shoulder separation.” The AC joint is formed where the clavicle and the scapular area meet. It’s generally in the highest part of the shoulder. The two bones that form the shoulder attach by a ligament that can be damaged. Sometimes there is damage to the muscle as well.
The AC joint is most often injured when there is direct contact the shoulder. Some insurance companies will doubt the AC joint injury if there is no evidence of direct impact to the shoulder. However, with the proper medical diagnosis, medical documentation, and the absence of joint separation in previous medical records, some insurance companies can be convinced that the AC joint injury was from the accident. They will doubt it at first in my experience, questioning the “mechanism of injury.”
Symptoms can include pain in the collarbone area that spreads through the shoulder. Sometimes there is swelling where the joint has been disrupted. Often there is pain when moving the shoulders, especially when trying to raise the arms high above the shoulders. Therefore, it is possible to have AC shoulder joint separation from an accident. Just make sure you tell all your doctors so that your injury can be well-documented. This isn’t the time to take a “wait and see” approach.
It is possible to have a rotator cuff injury from an automobile accident. The rotator cuff is the name of the four muscles and tendons that form the shoulder joint. Basically, the rotator cuff aids the shoulder’s ability to have a wide range of motion. Interestingly, the shoulder has a very wide range of motion when compared to other joints in the body. A healthy rotator cuff is very important for allowing you to do daily routine tasks such as getting dressed.
Sometimes there is a tear in the rotator cuff when one of the four muscles and tendons are injured. Most often, rotator cuff injuries occur from repetitive use, but sometimes they can be caused by traumatic injury. Repetitive use is often associated with such activities such as overhead lifting or sports, but sometimes a forceful collision like an automobile accident can cause a rotator cuff tear.
The accident most associated with a rotator cuff tear is the classic rear end accident. Sometimes, when anticipating a rear end collision, a person looks in their rearview mirror just before impact. At that moment, they brace their hands against the steering wheel in anticipation of the impact. Unfortunately, doing so can sometimes lead to injury of the rotator cuff. This is because the shoulder is in an “unrelaxed” state when the body braces for impact, and therefore, the shoulder absorbs a large amount of force from the accident. An acute tear can occur from this type of accident.
If you feel pain in the shoulder after a car accident and have trouble sleeping, putting pressure on your shoulder, rotating your arms, or you experience a popping or clicking sound in your arm, you may have a rotator cuff tear. Your physician can diagnose one, but early diagnosis is important.
Many of my clients often overlook the possibility of rotator cuff tear because they simply don’t consider it. Make sure you mention your injury to a doctor so they can diagnose it properly. Rotator cuff tears may require surgical intervention if physical therapy and other approaches are unsuccessful.
Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and are often sustained during car accidents. While most soft tissue injuries are generally not as serious as, say, bone or organ injuries, they can be very painful and may take a long time to heal. Soft tissue injuries include sprains, strains, tendonitis or bursitis, bruises, dislocation and nerve damage. Whiplash, which occurs commonly during car accidents, is a soft tissue injury of the cervical spine. Treatment for a soft tissue injury may consist of physical therapy, medication and/or rest, and in very severe cases, surgery.
Pursuing a legal case in order to obtain compensation for treatment of soft tissue injuries will likely require that you prove the responsible party’s negligence – that they were not driving safely and that you were injured as a result of their negligence. This is known as “causation.” If you choose to hire an attorney to represent you in your soft tissue injury case (or any personal injury case), the statute of limitations in California is currently two years, but you will have a better chance at success if you act immediately. Because soft tissue injuries are oftentimes not regarded as serious by insurance companies, as they usually can’t be seen by the naked eye or on an x-ray, waiting to pursue your case can only make it more difficult to get the compensation you need. Delaying may not be in your favor.
Seeking medical attention for your soft tissue injuries can be tough. A doctor may prescribe you pain medication automatically, numbing symptoms and lessening your motivation to seek further treatment or contact an attorney. If nothing shows up on your x-ray, it might be a good idea to see a chiropractor or physical therapist, even if you don’t feel any pain; they can help detect a soft tissue injury that could cause you trouble later on. Additionally, chiropractors and physical therapists generally offer a gentler therapy that can help tackle the root cause of your pain and help you regain your previous range of motion so scar tissue doesn’t build up. Painkillers often mask your symptoms, potentially exacerbating your condition – if a soft tissue injury isn’t treated properly, surgery may be in your future or you may not heal to pre-accident condition.
If you are involved in a car accident, seek medical help immediately, and keep a detailed record of how you feel and how you progress or regress. Remember, car insurance companies are notorious for scoffing at soft tissue injuries, regardless of how real your pain is to you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t treat your injuries seriously. Soft tissue cases can pose an “uphill battle” to any claimant, with or without a lawyer.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,