A torn meniscus is one of the most common types of knee injuries. Our lawyers have handled many car accident claims where the victim sought damages for a torn meniscus.
The knee has 2 menisci which are horseshoe shaped pieces of cartilage. The menisci act as cushions between the thighbone and shinbone. Damage to this cartilage is referred to as a torn meniscus.
A meniscus tear can cause lifelong injuries. By the time we are small children, the blood supply to the meniscus gets cut off, which makes natural healing a challenge. We also know that patients that have a portion of their meniscus or all of their meniscus removed are also at an increased risk for developing arthritis compared to a patient that doesn't have part of their meniscus removed.What Causes a Torn Meniscus?
Any type of excessively forceful rotation or twisting of the knee while it's under stress can result in a torn meniscus. This is why a torn meniscus is a very common injury suffered in car accidents. At the moment of impact in a car accident the knees are frequently twisted or pushed backward with a great deal of force. The older you get the easier it is to tear a meniscus. Sometimes a torn meniscus can result from deep kneeling to lift something heavy. It is also a common injury in certain sports such as football.How do You Know if You have a Torn Meniscus?
When the tear of the meniscus initially occurs you might experience a painful popping feeling in the knee. Swelling and stiffness in and around the injured knee will typically develop soon after the tear. When the meniscus is torn it will be difficult to full straighten the knee and moving or rotating the knee will be very painful. Another common symptom is feeling as if the knee is locked in place.
The perception people have with meniscus tears is all wrong. It many ways, these tears are like having a cavity. How long do you have a cavity before you're aware of it? Because, like a cavity, you can have torn cartilage and not have symptoms. This is why a relatively minor car accident can the cause of symptoms from a tear.How is a Torn Meniscus Diagnosed?
A preliminary diagnosis of a torn meniscus can often be done based on a physical exam. The doctor will observe how the knee responds to various movements such as walking and squatting and the patient's reaction to different positions. A definitive diagnosis of a torn meniscus requires additional imaging testing or arthroscopy.
Meniscus tears involve damage to cartilage, not bone, so the tear will not be visible on an x-ray. X-rays of the knee are often used, however, to rule out other conditions that might present similar physical symptoms. More advanced diagnostic imaging tools such as Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is required to actually see the cartilage damage and make a conclusive diagnosis of a torn meniscus. MRIs are expensive and many doctors and insurance companies are reluctant to order them so you may have to insist on an MRI if you want to know for sure. An arthroscope is a diagnostic medical instrument with a very small light and camera that can be inserted into the knee to allow doctors to visually examine bones and cartilage. A very small incision is made in the knee through which the arthroscope is inserted. Arthroscopy can be used not only to diagnose knee issues but also to repair damage inside the knee. In some cases an arthroscopy will be used to diagnose a torn meniscus.What is McMurray's Sign?
The McMurray test is a specific set of rotations and maneuvers of the knee that doctors use during physical examination to identify a torn meniscus. If the maneuvers produce a painful click noise it means the meniscus is torn. The click is referred to as McMurray's Sign.What is the Thessaly Test?
The Thessaly Test is another type of physical examination process used to diagnose a meniscus tear. The patient holds his or her arms out and flexes their knees to a 20 degree angle several times. If the patient experiences pain or discomfort during the test it indicates a torn meniscus.What is the Apley Test?
The Apley Test for diagnosing meniscus tears has the patient lay in a prone position while the doctor holds down the thigh, bends the knee to 90 degrees and maneuvers it laterally. Pain or discomfort at certain points during the test indicates a torn meniscus.What is a Positive Clarke's Test?
Clarke's Test is a method used to evaluate anterior knee injury and pain during physical examination. A positive Clarke's Test occurs when pain or discomfort is produced by the physical maneuvers. The value of Clarke's Test is somewhat disputed.What is a Pivot Shift?
Pivot Shift is a type of test done during physical examination to evaluate knee stability. A positive result from a Pivot Shift test can indicate an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament.What is the Noble Compression Test?
The Noble Compression test is a physical examination technique typically used to diagnose iliotibial band syndrome. Its diagnostic value is not fully accepted.What is a Positive Ober's Test?
Ober's Test is a physical exam technique used to evaluate tightness of the iliotibial band. A positive Ober's Test result is an indication of iliotibial band syndrome.What is a Patellar Grind Test?
The Patellar Grind Test is a technique used during physical examination of the knee. The test is used to diagnose patellofemoral syndrome.What are Treatment Options for a Torn Meniscus?
Treatment plans for a torn meniscus will vary depending on the type and severity of the tear and resulting cartilage damage. Meniscus tears the result from arthritis or other degenerative conditions tend to be very minor and require more conservative treatment. By contrast, a torn meniscus resulting from car accidents or other acute trauma tend to be much more severe. A severe torn meniscus from a car accident will usually require more advanced forms of treatment. There are essentially 3 levels of treatment for a torn meniscus: (1) conservative; (2) therapy; and (3) surgery.Conservative Treatment
The most basic and conservative level of treatment for a torn meniscus usually consists of rest, ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications.Rehabilitative Therapy
Physical therapy offers another level of treatment for a torn meniscus. The object of physical therapy is to help strengthen the muscles around the knee and leg to increase stability and support for the injured knee.Surgery
If physical therapy and other treatments efforts are not successful a torn meniscus can be treated with surgery. If the patient is relatively young, surgery can be successfully used to actually repair the damaged meniscus cartilage. When the meniscus cannot actually be repaired, it can be surgically trimmed to alleviate pain and increase mobility. In some cases a procedure called a meniscectomy is used to surgically remove most or all of the damaged meniscus.Compensation for Torn Meniscus Caused by Car Accident
The knees of drivers and passengers are put under considerable force during any car accident. For this reason car accident knee injuries are probably the most common result of any automobile collision. Of all the various types of knee injuries that typically occur in car accidents, a torn meniscus is probably the most common.Settlements & Verdicts for Torn Meniscus
Below are summaries of recent settlements and verdicts in cases where the primary injury was a torn meniscus. The value of these cases is typically driven by the severity of the meniscus tear and whether there were any additional injuries involved. These cases are for informational purposes only. You should not put a lot of stock in these verdicts. They are extremely low. We have settled many six figure meniscus tear claims.
Buechler v Tessler (2018 New Jersey) - $30,000 Settlement: The car accident is this case was really bad as both cars were totaled. Plaintiff's wife suffered more severe injuries and was awarded $120,000 in damages. Plaintiff's primary injury was a torn medial and lateral meniscus for which the jury in Morris County awarded $30,000.
McCellen v. Cruz (2016 Maryland) - $2,000 Verdict: Plaintiff alleged torn medial meniscus resulted when Defendant backed into his car in a parking lot. Jury in Howard County awarded just $2,000 which was much less than what Plaintiff was seeking.
Dagher v. Murillo (2016 Maryland) - $28,000 Verdict: Plaintiff's primary injury in this intersection collision case was a torn meniscus. The meniscus tear was particularly severe in this case requiring full meniscectomy surgery. A jury in P.G. County awarded $28,000 in medical expense damages but no economic damages.
If you suffered a torn meniscus or other type of knee injury in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, the personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois can help get you financial compensation. Call us at 1.800.553.8082 or submit a request for a free consultation.