Nearly any type of car accident can result in a knee injury. Often, the steering wheel or dashboard is pressed into the knees of the driver or front seat passenger due to the force of the collision. Sometimes, the knee is twisted or torn as a result of a side-impact crash.
Not all knee injuries are alike, however, as some injuries require little medical treatment or missed work, while others require surgical repair, months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, and even loss of the use of the knee.
Car accident claimants who have suffered knee pain often want to know the average settlement for this type of injury. The truth is this: There is no average. The amount of a settlement for knee pain depends on the severity of the injury and several other factors.
Here is a look at the physical and psychological costs of knee injuries, the factors that impact the value of your claim, and how much the at-fault party’s insurer is willing to pay to settle the claim out of court.
The Complexity and Cost of Knee Injuries
As noted by Boston Medical Center, the knee is an incredibly complex joint featuring many components, including bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. It is the largest joint in the body and one of the most easily injured. Common types of knee injuries include bone fractures around the knee, dislocation, sprains, and tears of soft tissues.
Unfortunately, injuries to any part of the knee typically require surgery to repair. This surgery is commonly performed arthroscopically, which involves a surgeon making several small incisions around the joint to insert small surgical tools and a tube with a camera on the end of it to guide the surgeon as they perform the repair.
New Choice Health explains that doctors prefer arthroscopic surgery in most cases because it is minimally invasive and typically requires a much shorter recovery time than open knee surgeries.
While the surgery is less invasive, it is not inexpensive. The cost of arthroscopic knee surgery can run anywhere between $5,700 to $23,650. This amount is generally just for the surgery itself, without considering prescriptions, follow-up visits, and physical therapy costs.
The wild variation in costs not only reflects more and less severe injuries but also of whether a hospital or an outpatient facility performs the surgery, whether the injured party has insurance, and whether the provider is in the insurance network.
How Long It Takes to Recover From a Knee Injury
After a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, an individual who suffers a knee injury can seek compensation for that injury through the personal injury claims process. This process generally involves seeking compensation by filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy.
If the insurer fails to pay the claim outright or offer to settle it out-of-court for less than its established value, the claimant can file a personal injury lawsuit and request that a civil court judge or jury determine whether the at-fault party was liable and how much is owed to the claimant. While the medical expenses of the injury are a part of the compensation that can be claimed, claimants can also seek compensation for other costs, such as wage loss, lost earning capacity, and even the psychological impacts that the claimant suffered as a result of the injury.
The time it takes you to heal from your injury will impact the amount of wage loss you suffer and can affect your quality of life in several ways.
According to Metro Healthcare Partners, common knee injuries and their average healing times include:
- A torn meniscus, which often does not present with chronic severe pain but generally requires surgery to treat to avoid immobility as the tear worsens—typically requires a recovery period of one to two months before the sufferer can return to normal activity.
- A sprained knee, often treated through non-surgical methods such as ice, heat, and stretches—generally requires two to four weeks to heal.
- An ACL tear, which often requires both surgery and physical therapy—generally takes seven to nine months to heal.
During the period of recovery from a knee injury, the sufferer often is unable to work or perform daily living activities on their own, requiring assistance with domestic chores, cooking, and even driving. In some cases, the individual will acquire chronic pain in the knee or impacts to their mobility that will require continued treatment or even prevent them from working in the same position they held before the accident.
How an Attorney Values a Car Accident Claim for a Knee Injury
When an individual who has suffered a knee injury hires an attorney to assist them in seeking compensation through the personal injury claims process, one of the essential services that the attorney will provide is a valuation of the claim. The claim’s value is not simply a tally of the monetary expenses associated with the injury, as compensation can also be sought for non-economic impacts.
Instead, when valuing the claim, they will consider:
- The availability of insurance resources to provide the compensation. All insurance policies have policy limits, which are also referred to as coverage amounts. This is the maximum amount of coverage available through the policy. For example, if drivers in the state where you live are required to have minimum liability coverage limits of $50,000/$100,000/$30,000, this means that the liability policy will pay a maximum of $50,000 for bodily injuries suffered by one person, a maximum of $100,000 for bodily injuries per accident, and $30,000 for property damage per accident.
- The presence of permanent injuries. As noted, some knee injuries never completely heal, leaving the sufferer with loss of mobility, chronic pain, and the inability to participate in certain activities. These lingering effects can severely impact the claimant’s future earning capacity and generally command a higher case value.
- The wages the claimant was making before their injury. Because knee injuries can take weeks or even months to heal, wage loss is often associated with the injury.
Is the Value of Your Claim How Much You Will Receive in a Settlement?
One thing that insurance providers dislike even more than paying for the expenses and impacts of injuries caused by their insured is facing the expenses, time, damage to reputation, and uncertain outcome of a personal injury trial. Because of this, out-of-court settlements are by far the most common resolution to personal injury claims.
When a claimant’s attorney submits their claim to the at-fault party’s insurance provider along with a demand for payment of its full value, the insurance company will typically assign a claims adjuster to evaluate the claim. They will determine if their insured’s policy provides coverage for that type of claim, whether the insured was liable for causing the car accident, and how much is owed to the claimant for their injuries.
While car accident claimants seek the compensation they need, claims adjusters are looking for reasons to deny the claim or reduce its value. If the claim is denied, they must provide an explanation to the claimant and their attorney, and the claimant still has the right to file a lawsuit on the matter as long as the claim is still within the statute of limitations. Instead, many claims adjusters will offer to settle the claim for a fraction of its value.
The claimant’s attorney will then be tasked with communicating with the claims adjuster and negotiating with them to get them to increase their offer until it is enough to provide fair compensation for the expenses and impacts of the claimant’s injury. While this amount is usually less than the claim’s value, the goal is to get it as close to that value as possible.
It is important to note that the insurance company can offer a settlement at any time during the personal injury claims process until the judge or jury reaches a decision on the case.
No Two Knee Injury Settlements are Alike
It is impossible to say what the average settlement is for knee pain because no average settlements exist.
Settlement agreements are unique in every way, influenced by:
- The willingness of both sides to settle the claim. If the insurance company does not make an offer or the claimant does not agree to accept it, there will be no settlement. However, this is not to say that a claimant should ever be willing to accept a lowball offer that does not provide enough money to cover their medical treatment and other expenses. But a claimant who has benefitted from the experience and guidance that their attorney provides throughout the process will be better able to consider a claim and determine whether the amount of compensation offered is fair.
- The clarity of liability. Insurance providers are more likely to offer settlements for claims when they know there is a high chance that they’re going to lose in court. For example, if an at-fault party was driving while impaired by alcohol when the crash occurred, was arrested at the scene, and later found to have an illegal blood alcohol level, there is generally more evidence to clearly show that they were at fault than there would be in an accident in which both drivers involved were negligent in some way, and there is a dispute over responsibility.
- The severity of the injury and the actual impacts suffered by the claimant. If the claimant faces permanent implications due to their injury, it is unwise to accept a low settlement. Settlement agreements are final. Once the agreement is in place, the case is considered resolved, and the claimant no longer has legal standing to seek additional compensation from the at-fault party or their insurance provider for the expenses and impacts of the accident.
- The immediate financial needs of the claimant. Sometimes claimants will accept a settlement offer not because it is the most they can receive for their claim but because they can’t afford to wait for the trial to receive compensation for their expenses. Your attorney can help you understand your claim’s timeline and explore your options to help you make decisions about your claim that reflect your best interests.
Affording an Attorney for Your Car Accident Claim
Having an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you as you navigate the personal injury claims process to obtain compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury is crucial to your ability to obtain a settlement or a court verdict in your favor.
Unfortunately, many individuals miss out on getting the compensation they need because they don’t think they can afford to hire an attorney. They don’t know that personal injury lawyers use a contingent fee billing method that ensures that anyone who needs their services can hire them.
The contingent fee billing method means that you only have to pay for your attorney’s services once your claim is compensated, either through a negotiated settlement or a court award.
When you hire an attorney, they will ask you to sign a contingent fee agreement. This agreement designates a portion of the compensation received for your claim as payment for your legal team. While the case is active, your lawyer will not bill you each time your attorney works on your case. Instead, your attorney will help you receive your compensation, satisfy medical liens placed on the award by your creditors, and collect their payment.
If you sustained a knee injury from a car accident and are suffering from pain, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to help you obtain just compensation.