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A Common Car Accident Injury: Posterior Knee Dislocation

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2016 | Firm News |

Car accidents are an unfortunate risk that everyone takes by getting into a car, regardless of whether they climb behind the steering wheel or into the passenger seat. One of the most common car accident mechanisms involves rear-ending a vehicle in front or colliding with a stationary object, such as a car or a light pole. When the car comes to a sudden stop, such as when colliding with another object, the passenger often lurches forward. While the body is restrained by the seatbelt, the knees and legs can strike the glove compartment. This sudden force can lead to an unusual but highly dangerous knee injury called a posterior knee dislocation.

What, Exactly, Is The Injury?

Dislocating a knee requires major force because the knee is protected by extremely powerful quadriceps muscles and multiple knee ligaments including the Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Medial Collateral Ligament, Lateral Collateral Ligament, and Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL). All of these ligaments make a knee dislocation unusual.

Furthermore, a knee dislocation is usually to the side (a lateral or medial dislocation) or due to force from behind, leading to an anterior dislocation. This is because a posterior dislocation requires the force to come from in front. In most situations, such as contact sports, the individual will see the approaching object or person and have time to avoid it. In the case of a car accident, though, there is no opportunity to protect the knee from the impact or extreme stress. 

What Causes The Dislocation?

When the car collides with an object in front, the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, but the passengers do not. The driver and front passenger are most vulnerable, as their knees often strike the bottom of the steering column or glove compartment. The force of impact is often strong enough to tear not only the PCL, but also dislocate the knee in a posterior way. The PCL serves an important role in preventing this from happening because a posterior knee dislocation can cause significant other medical problems that might be life threatening.

What Symptoms To Watch For After A Car Accident

Symptoms of a posterior knee dislocation include massive pain in the lower leg. This is usually accompanied by swelling of the affected knee. Individuals will obviously have singifcant trouble walking and usually will not even be able to move the leg at all. Other symptoms include bruising or discoloration, warmth at the injury site, or numbness and tingling below the site of the dislocation.

Diagnosis of this injury is largely clinical. Most medical professionals can look at the knee and make the diagnosis without any further tests; however, a battery of imaging is usually ordered to grade the severity of the injury and assess for numerous other injuries that often accompany a posterior knee dislocation that can cause significant morbidity and mortality. When the knee dislocates backwards, the PCL is torn. If the knee moves through the PCL, numerous nerves and arteries, such as the popliteal artery, are at risk for being severed. If this artery is torn, the individual can bleed to death without proper medical treatment. Furthermore, if nerves are injured, the patient can lose motor ability or sensation around the leg depending on the nerve that was injured. Therefore, ultrasound scans, X-Rays, or MRIs may be ordered to rule out these dangerous injuries.

Treatment Can Be Costly

Treatment involves reduction of the dislocated knee. Surgery is needed to fix the torn PCL along with any other injuries that accompanied the dislocation or car accident. After surgery, recovery will take time and substantial physical therapy. Most individuals make a full recovery.

For a passenger involved in this kind of injury, medical bills can pile up quickly. Passengers who are injured in car accidents by a negligent driver might be in a position for financial compensation from the driver’s insurance company, even if the driver is a spouse or other family member. 

Having The Right Northwest Georgia Car Accident Lawer Matters

In the event the driver is found guilty of reckless or aggressive driving, there may be punitive damages awarded to any and all injured passengers, as well. In many cases, however, insurance companies will fight aggressively to protect themselves from liability for damages. It is important to have an experienced attorney who understands and handles car accident injury claims.

For passengers sustaining injuries from car accidents in Northwest Georgia, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Gammon, Andersen & McFall for a consultation.