Learn some common symptoms and effects of a slip and fall knee injury. There are a few things to keep in mind as you consider making a claim.
The knee is one of the most important joints in the human body. It carries nearly your full weight through a variety of everyday activities. Running, walking and bicycling wouldn’t be possible without this strong and crucial part of your body.
With a knee injury, though, even simple tasks like sitting comfortably or getting out of bed become challenging.
While some age-related arthritis and knee pain is common, serious injury of the knee is not. A slip and fall knee injury can destroy your mobility, your career and your home life. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important that you get your injury treated and seek compensation to get you back to your pre-injury life as soon as possible.
If you hurt your knee on someone’s property because they allowed a dangerous condition to exist, you may have a slip and fall claim. Even if the owner didn’t know about the condition, but should have, they are still liable for the loss of functionality and enjoyment of your life that comes with your injury.
This article will take a look at how slip and fall injuries can affect your knees. We’ll also examine the claim and settlement process, including what can happen if you have to take your claim to trial.
How Slip and Fall Knee Injuries Happen
There are many ways slip and fall accidents can occur. Wet or slick floors are a common hazard. Items left on floors, poor property maintenance and uneven sidewalks can also present a tripping hazard.
The impact of a slip and fall accident can cause a variety of injuries to your knee. The knee is an incredibly complex joint, joining the leg bones of the tibia (shin bone) and the femur (thigh bone). Most people can also easily locate their kneecap, also known as the patella.
Each of your knees also contain two pieces of cartilage known as menisci. Damage to a meniscus is a fairly common injury. The knee also contains several important ligaments that hold your bones in place.
These ligaments include:
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
- Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
- Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
Finally, your knee also contains tendons attached to your patella and quadriceps (the large muscles on the top of your legs).
Knee injuries are painful and debilitating. Based on the severity of your injury, you may have trouble walking, running, or lifting any kind of weight. Severe knee injuries may prevent you from walking or even being at rest without chronic pain.
Different Types of Knee Injuries
Trauma to the knee can result in fracture of the surrounding bones, cartilage, and ligaments.
Some common examples of slip and fall knee injury:
- Torn meniscus: Forceful twisting or rotation of your knee can damage the cartilage in your knee. While many of these injuries can improve with conservative treatment and medication, more serious cases of a torn meniscus may require surgery.
- Knee fractures: Any sufficient impact can break a bone in or around the knee. The most common bone broken here is the patella. This condition can require surgery and also cause secondary damage to ligaments.
- Dislocated knee: Trauma to bones or ligaments can jar the femur, tibia, or patella out of alignment. This can be treated with knee braces, physical therapy, and/or surgery.
- ACL, PCL, and MCL injuries: Blows to the knee or landing on a knee badly can tear or otherwise injure these cruciate ligaments. Treatments can be conservative or include surgery, which is often not as invasive as many other kinds of surgery. LCL injuries are not as common as injuries to other knee ligaments.
- Torn tendons: Trauma to the knee can also damage the quadricep and/or patellar tendons. This can prevent you from properly moving your knee and may require surgery.
Symptoms of a knee injury may include:
- Pain when attempting to move your knee
- Visible dislocation or deformity
- Different feeling or sensitivity in one knee versus the other
- Cracking or popping sound when moving the knee
Effects of a Knee Injury
The pain and handicap that comes with a knee injury can disrupt all aspects of your life. Because you use your knee joint for virtually every physical activity you can think of, most things you do will cause you significant pain.
When even resting or sitting does not relieve your knee pain, you can also suffer from a lack of sleep.
Long-term sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of mental and physical conditions including depression, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Thus, while your initial injury might be a fractured patella or torn meniscus, the later effects could last for the rest of your life.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
Even without a slip and fall incident, many people will have age-related wear-and-tear on their knees. If you do, can a property owner be held responsible for injuring knees that were already in bad shape? After all, in order to hold a property owner liable for your injury, that injury has to be caused by the condition on the property.
But because of the Eggshell Skull Rule, you can still get compensation if you have prior injuries or knee conditions that have made you more vulnerable to new injuries.
For example, let’s say that you suffer a form of congenital knee dislocation caused by a deformity of your knee at birth. That deformity can make your knee more susceptible to further dislocation and injury. Then, as an adult, you slip on a slick floor and fall in a grocery store. Your knee dislocates, as it’s prone to do because of your condition. You break bones and tear your ACL and PCL.
In this scenario, the property owner is still liable for the effects of your injury despite the fact that you had a pre-existing condition that made your knees more fragile than those of an average person.
Proving Your Knee Injury Claim
So now it’s time to prove your injury. Slip and fall cases are premises liability claims brought against the owner or manager of the property where you had your accident.
You might be seeking a settlement from an insurance adjuster or a judgment from a jury. Either way, you must have the best possible evidence to support your injury claim.
Your biggest priority is to organize and present your updated medical treatment records. This includes medical bills and other documents showing your prognosis. To prove how and where your knee was injured, you’ll also need the results of tests and procedures you had done.
Some common diagnostic tests for knee injuries are:
- Visual inspection by a doctor
- Range-of-motion tests for torn meniscus (e.g., McMurray’s test) and ACL tears (e.g., Lachman test)
Records showing the necessity for knee surgery, rehabilitation or other treatment are also important.
Knee injuries are crippling across all aspects of your life. For your work, you should gather evidence of problems caused at work, particularly incidents where your injury has diminished or eliminated your ability to do certain tasks. To illustrate your problems, collect statements from co-workers or supervisors.
Your family and friends can give you similar statements and evidence pertaining to your personal life and recreation. Knee injuries can make even simple activities difficult or impossible. The inability to enjoy your life as you did before the accident is damage for which you deserve compensation.
You will also need to gather evidence showing how the accident happened. You’ll help convince an insurance adjuster or a jury that your claim is valid with pictures, videos or other evidence of the hazardous condition that caused your injury.
Slip and Fall Knee Injury Claim Values
If you’re like most people, you will probably settle your claim out of court with an insurance company.
Whether you resolve your claim in or out of court, though, you will need strong evidence. The best way to get this is to work closely with your doctors to get the best and most recent information about your injury.
Without good evidence, you will probably get only nuisance value for your claim. A settlement of $5,000 or more is unlikely at this stage.
Assuming you have the evidence you need, the value of your claim will largely depend on the amount of treatment necessary for your knee injury. For example, surgery for a fractured kneecap can cost as much $20,000. If you factor in associated treatment, recovery, physical therapy and lost wages, a broken knee could easily get $40,000 or more in economic damages.
An ACL tear can be even more expensive to handle with surgery, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. The total economic damages from a torn ACL could therefore be between $70,000 and $80,000.
Make sure to add an amount for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. The law usually calculates this by adding one to two times your treatment costs and other economic damages. In the example of the torn ACL, then, your total claim could be between $140,000 and $240,000.
Be Kind To Your Knees
Like the song says, you’ll miss them when they’re gone. If your knees are hurt through someone else’s negligence or misdeeds, you deserve compensation.
If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall knee injury, be sure to contact a qualified personal injury attorney in your state for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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