Indiana personal injury lawyer discusses knee cap fractures after accidents.
In the last month, I received three calls from prospective clients who fractured their knee caps in accidents. The first caller told me that he was involved in a car accident where another driver cut across the road and caused him to crash into the car. He explained that his right foot was on the brake and when the vehicles crashed it was forced into the steering column.
The second caller explained that she was walking through the parking lot of a local mall and she tripped and fell on curbing that was in disrepair. The prospective client explained that she landed directly on her right knee and was unable to get up.
The third caller was injured in a motorcycle accident where he dumped his bike.
Mechanism of Injury in Patella (knee cap) Fractures
The common theme with all these callers is the mechanism of injury. In all three cases, the mechanism of injury was a direct blow to the knee – causing the knee cap to break (fracture). Patella fractures are pretty common, and some resources say that they are the number one fracture in the knee. Surprisingly, patella fractures happen more often to folks who are relatively young, between 20-50 years old.
Types of Patella Fractures
The number one predictor of a clients future recovery is whether the fracture is stable or unstable. The stable knee cap fracture will usually be described as just a crack in the bone that does not separate. These folks do pretty well with rest and physical therapy. On the other hand, unstable patella fractures happen when the knee cap breaks into multiple pieces and the bone separates. These clients generally have a more difficult time with healing and tend to have more problems in the future.
Long Term Problems Associates with Knee Cap Fractures
One of the reasons that the patella fractures can cause so many problems for our clients is because the way the patella functions. The knee cap is housed in the patella tendon. The knee cap acts as a fulcrum stabilizing the knee joint when the thigh muscles contract. When the knee cap is broken or doesn't heal properly, these clients can have difficulty climbing and descending stairs, squatting, kneeling and sitting for periods of time.
We see the following long term problems with knee cap fractures:
Post traumatic arthritis – this is usually associated with damage to the articular cartilage on the underside of the knee cap. Some authorities say that severe arthritis occurs in 20-25% of the patients.
Muscle weakness – prolonged muscle weakness to the thigh muscles – called the quadriceps – can lead to long term loss of function and disability.
Long Term Pain – occurs because of the development of post-traumatic arthritis and muscle weakness. This leads to patellofemoral pain and dysfunction. These clients have great difficulty climbing and descending stairs.
Compensation for Patella Fractures
One of the hurdles in trying to get compensation for clients who suffer from lasting problems related to a knee cap fracture is educating the insurance adjuster or jury about the functional limitations and problems that are almost certain to occur in the future. This is why a person who experiences a patella fracture in an accident should consult an attorney who has the healthcare knowledge to explain these difficult concepts to the insurance adjuster and/or jury.
If you have any questions about a patella fracture following a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident or slip and fall, call one of our Northwest Indiana personal injury lawyers at or fill out the internet consultation form on the right side of the screen.
Photo Attribution: James Heilman, MD