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Common Leg Injuries After a Car Collision

WRITTEN BY:
Jon Montagna
February 1, 2023 | Auto Accident

A car accident can be terrifying for many reasons. When someone else hits your car, it can result in a ripple effect that moves your vehicle, makes items in the car fly through the air, and changes the car’s interior. Ultimately, car accidents can be painful and expensive.

If you sustain a leg injury, you might be too distracted with your recovery to protect your legal rights for compensation. Leg injuries can result in long-lasting pain that inhibits your movement. You might even need physical therapy or surgery. If you were in an auto accident and suffering from a leg injury, contact the knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Montagna Law to see how our Norfolk, Virginia law firm can help with your claim.

What Causes Leg Injuries in a Car Accident?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), leg injuries are very common in frontal crashes. In most situations, leg injuries occur from the collapse of the small space where your legs rest while driving (for both passengers and drivers). Essentially, when this already small space gets crushed, it often directly affects the driver’s and passenger’s legs.

In crashes that involve lower leg injuries, the floor or foot control is likely to blame. In crashes that involve upper leg injuries, the knee bolster or instrument panel was likely the source of the injury. The steering wheel can affect the legs and kneecaps as well.

Ultimately, the United States Department of Transportation reports that roughly 38 percent of all front crashes involve some kind of leg injury. When the collision is one from the front, the likelihood of leg damage doubles compared to other types of crashes. These injuries can be very severe, depending on how serious the crash may be.

man sitting in his car holding his leg in pain

What Are Some Common Leg Injuries After a Car Accident?

Many types of leg injuries might occur after a crash. While broken bones might be the most obvious injury, leg damage can extend far beyond broken bones. Some leg injuries might be life-threatening, such as when they result in nerve damage, blood vessel damage, or spinal cord damage. Amputations might also occur in serious car crashes.

Some of these common leg injuries might affect drivers and passengers for the rest of their lives.

Broken or Crushed Bones

You have sixty bones in your body from hip to toe. The legs have four major bones:

  • Tibia
  • Smaller fibula
  • Femur (thigh bone)
  • Patella (kneecap)

Any of these leg bones are vulnerable during a car crash, even though the femur is often known as the strongest bone in the body. Your legs often experience the impact very differently than the rest of your body. If you know the crash is coming, many people brace their legs on the floor, which can lead to bone fractures in the legs and feet and broken legs.

Bones can break and shatter if there is sudden, strong pressure. Prolonged pressure can also break a bone. In fact, many bones break in more than one location in severe crashes.

You might not notice every leg fracture right away. Smaller breaks or fractures might only be discovered after an x-ray. You might have pain but can still put some pressure on your leg, so you make the mistake of assuming you have a bruise. Instead, you might have a break that gets worse once you use your leg normally for a period of time.

Be sure to get medical attention after any accident, even if you do not think you are hurt that badly — some injuries might not seem serious until hours or even days after the auto accident.

Bruises

Bruises from car accidents are extremely common. They are usually visible on the skin because they will discolor your normal pigment. They might turn blue, purple, or yellow. In most cases, a bruise will be painful, but it often does not cause any long-term damage.

In general, a bruise will appear after an impact with an object. Blood pools under the skin because of damage to blood vessels. Bruising might show up immediately after an accident, or it might take a few hours or days to appear.

A hematoma is technically a type of bruise. It is much more painful than the average bruise. They are usually bigger than the typical bruise and painful to the touch.

Car accident victims sometimes experience internal bruising as well. An internal bruise is damage to the deep tissue under the skin. You can also experience a bruise on your bones or muscles. These painful injuries often result in swelling, discoloration of the skin, and trouble moving the affected area. Bone bruises will often last longer than the average bruise as well.

ACL Injuries

man wearing a leg brace after a leg injury

Your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the femur to the tibia. It also goes directly to the kneecap between these two critical bones. The ACL provides stability and flexibility to your knee joint.

ACL injuries are extremely common, especially in athletes, who use their legs quite a bit. Hyperextending the knee or twisting the legs the wrong way can lead to an ACL injury — and both movements are relatively common in an auto accident. In fact, of all knee injuries that a car accident causes, damage to the ACL is the most common.

Anyone who experiences an ACL injury will often tell you they heard or felt a popping or cracking and immediate pain in the knee area. If you have a severe ACL injury, you likely cannot put pressure or weight on the affected leg. The knee will usually swell as well, causing a severe limitation in the range of motion. Recovering from an ACL injury can often take months.

Meniscus Injuries

The meniscus is a critical part of the knee. It is a piece of cartilage that cushions the knee so that the bones that the knee connects — the femur and tibia — do not rub against one another. They also absorb shock when you place weight on your leg, such as from walking, running, climbing, crawling, or any other weight-bearing activity.

The meniscus can tear, making it less effective in preventing injury. A torn meniscus can be painful, but it can also make movement very difficult.

Car accident victims often end up with a meniscus tear because of the crash’s impact. This type of injury is frequently painful immediately. However, the movement might not be inhibited until a few days after the crash. The knee will become stiffer, and walking might become more difficult and limited.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue is any item in the body that protects, supports, or connects other parts of the body, including organs. Soft tissues could include the following:

  • Blood vessels
  • Cartilage
  • Tendons
  • Nerves
  • Ligaments
  • Fat
  • Muscles

Soft tissue injuries can be extremely painful and often take a significant amount of time to heal. They include tears, sprains, bruises, scrapes, lacerations, dislocation, and more. In most cases, soft tissue injuries can be difficult to diagnose because they will not appear on an x-ray. You might be able to see some soft tissue damage in a CT scan, but not always.

There is often no real treatment to address a soft tissue injury. These injuries have to heal on their own using plenty of rest. Over time, the area will begin to heal, but car accident victims might have limited movement and severe pain while it heals.

What Are the Symptoms of Leg Injury?

A leg injury’s symptoms vary based on your type of injury. However, any of the following symptoms might indicate something wrong with your lower extremity due to the automotive accident.

  • Leg pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Difficulty walking or moving the leg
  • Muscle spasms and cramps
  • Popping or cracking sounds

Get medical attention after a car accident, even if you think your injuries might be minor. Even seemingly minor scraps and bruises can be a sign of something much more serious. Do not wait to get medical help.

In addition, some leg injury symptoms do not appear until hours or even days after the motor vehicle collision. Seek out medical care as soon as you start to notice symptoms. Quick action can help you heal faster and get back on your feet.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Virginia?

You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. Two years might seem like a long time, but it can pass quickly if you are nursing a leg back to health. Reach out to a Virginia car accident lawyer for help long before those two years expire.

It depends. Every case is different, but if your leg injury was the fault of another person, you might

Can I Get Compensation for My Leg Injury After a Car Accident?

hourglass with sand pouring into the bottom

It depends. Every case is different, but if your leg injury was the fault of another person, you might be able to get compensation for your losses and damages. An experienced Virginia car accident lawyer will be able to review your situation and walk you through your options.

Below are some of the common types of compensation you might be able to receive after a car accident in Virginia.

Lost Wages

If you cannot work because of your injury, you might be entitled to receive lost wages. These include the actual time away from work and any future loss of wages you might experience because of a long-term injury.

Medical Expenses

You might need to pay your medical bills if someone else caused the crash that led to your leg injury. While you may need to keep up with medical bills for medical treatment as they occur, a legal claim might allow you to get reimbursement for those medical expenses. You might also be able to recover future medical expenses if you need further treatment down the road.

Property Damage

Most car accident cases lead to property damage. That property damage can often be recovered from the at-fault driver, either through their insurance company or directly from the driver.

Pain and Suffering

You might be able to receive monetary damages for your pain and suffering. Although you cannot quantify what your pain and suffering might be worth very well, Virginia law attempts to provide car accident victims monetary compensation to address this type of loss.

How Can a Lawyer Help After a Virginia Car Accident?

An experienced attorney knows the legal system. They know the legal requirements for a personal injury claim and the best ways to present your case to a judge or jury. They are also aware of the rules and deadlines you must follow to get the most out of your claim.

A Virginia personal injury attorney will provide legal advice and ensure you do not miss any part of the legal process, including paperwork or deadlines. Ultimately, an attorney will try to get you the most compensation available after your car accident injury.

Get Back on Your Feet with Trusted Legal Representation

When you have suffered a leg injury, you need someone else to help you assert your legal rights while you heal. Call Montagna Law at 757-622-8100 for more information about how our team of personal injury lawyers can help.

Written By Jon Montagna

Attorney

Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.

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