Leg Injuries From Car Accidents: What You Need to Know

One of the worst kinds of injuries you can get in a car accident is an injury to your legs. Leg injuries can be debilitating, and you may be in pain for months, years, or even permanently, depending on the severity of the injury. Leg injuries from car accidents can require costly treatments like surgery and physical therapy to recover. 

Leg pain can include knee pain, foot pain, and shin pain, and obviously, if leg bones are broken, the pain can be excruciating. This is true particularly of the femur bone, which is the longest and strongest bone in the body. Here is some information on what you need to know about leg injuries from car accidents.

What are common leg injuries after a car accident?

Human legs contain an elaborate network of nerves, joints, bones, and connective tissues that work in harmony to allow us to be functional and flexible. If you are having leg pain after a car accident, you may have injuries that are not allowing your body to heal correctly, causing inflammation and pain. Even something as simple as braking quickly can cause sprains and soft tissue injuries. Here are some common leg injuries that are the result of car accidents.

Lacerations: A laceration is essentially a deep cut, and in some cases, a laceration of the leg can be a life-threatening injury since the femoral artery, the main blood vessel supplying blood to your lower body, is located in the legs. A leg laceration requires special care and can take as little as four weeks to heal, but the majority can take four months or longer. If the laceration requires stitches, it can impact your ability to work, particularly if your work requires any strenuous activity or heavy lifting. Even if you have an office job, if you require stitches on the back of your thighs or knees, you would not be able to sit in an office chair for some time.

Severe bruising: A violent crash often causes severe bruising. Bruising happens when your muscle fibers and connective tissue is crushed, but the skin doesn’t break. Blood from the broken capillaries leaks under the skin, causing the skin to become discolored. A severe bruise can cause major swelling, pain, and weakness around the bruise. In very rare instances, a severe bruise can indicate that a deep-seated vein was damaged in the accident, which can lead to a deep-vein clot. That’s why it’s critical to get checked out by a doctor after a car accident.

ACL injury: ACL injuries are one of the most excruciating types of leg injuries you could endure. An ACL injury occurs when there is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which is one of the strong bands of tissue that aids in connecting your thigh bone to your shinbone. Depending on how severe the ACL injury is, it may require rehabilitation or even surgery to replace the torn ligament. People that have endured ACL injuries have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee, even if they had surgery to correct it. Long-term complications are something you should take into consideration when filing an insurance claim against the person who caused your injury.

Broken and crushed bones: A simple fracture will require time to heal at least. But if you’ve had a leg bone crushed, it most likely will require surgery to repair the bone with surgically inserted metal rods or plates. Complications of broken leg bones can include knee or ankle pain, bone infection, nerve or blood vessel damage, arthritis, unequal leg length (in children), and poor healing, particularly if the leg fracture was severe. Compartment syndrome is common with high-impact injuries like car accidents. It causes pain, swelling, and sometimes disability in the muscles surrounding the broken bone.

Torn meniscus: Although a common knee injury, a torn meniscus can cause pain, swelling, stiffness, and the inability to extend your knee fully. You may feel a popping sensation, or it may make you feel as if your knee is giving way or it’s locked in place. As with other injuries of this kind, you’re more likely to develop osteoarthritis after this kind of knee injury.  

How can a herniated disc cause leg pain? 

A herniated disc is one of the most common causes of leg pain after a car accident, even though the injury is in the spine. A herniated disc causes uncomfortable sensations in the leg like tingling, shooting pain, and weakness. This happens because the herniated disc begins to disturb a nerve in the spine, which then causes the nerve to be inflamed and sends pain signals down the leg. A doctor will typically treat a herniated disc with physical therapy, nerve-blocking injections, and steroids to decrease the inflammation. If your body doesn’t respond to non-invasive treatments, surgery may be required. Still, not all herniated disc cases will improve with surgery, and you may be left dealing with lifelong pain.

How can sciatica cause leg pain? 

Sciatica is nerve pain from an injury to the lumbar or sacrum sections of the spine. The sciatic nerve is the largest and longest nerve in the human body. The pain can be described as sharp, shooting, burning, electric, or stabbing pain in the leg. Your doctor may prescribe medications, prescribe physical therapy, or perform spinal injections of corticosteroids to treat sciatica. If these treatments don’t work to relieve your pain, surgery could be an option. 

How do you know if a leg injury is serious?

We always recommend that our clients get checked out by a doctor after a car accident because you never know when an injury could be serious. A fractured bone can have the same symptoms as a sprain or strain. Only an x-ray can confirm a fractured bone, and obviously, you’ll need a physician to splint or cast your broken leg bone. Similarly, a doctor will be able to diagnose other serious leg injuries like deep lacerations, ACL injury, and a torn meniscus. 

How long after a car accident can injuries appear?

When you’re in a car accident, typically, any injuries will appear immediately. Still, some may take days or weeks to manifest. In some instances, an accident victim may develop life-threatening injuries weeks later and not even realize it stems from the accident. 

For example, if you had a minor puncture wound on your leg and the wound became infected over the course of weeks. These injuries can also lead to a blood infection, gangrene, loss of function in the wound area, nerve damage, organ damage, or even amputation. 

Likewise, you might think you sprained your knee in the accident, but after a while, it doesn’t seem to be improving, and you go to the hospital, and they diagnose you with torn ligaments. For these reasons, it’s imperative to see a doctor anytime you’ve been in a car accident. 

What are leg injury statistics?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), people that are in high-energy crashes are surviving more frequently because of airbags and safety belts. However, these survivors now have to deal with debilitating lower extremity injuries. Twenty percent of drivers that were admitted to a hospital after a car crash had at least one lower-extremity fracture, and the highest percentage of that pool was ankle injuries. 

In a one-year study in the state of Maryland, persons hospitalized after a car accident and diagnosed with lower extremity injuries accounted for 40 percent of hospital charges. Furthermore, persons with lower extremity injuries frequently exhibit problems related to their injury even one year later. 

In one long-term study, it was revealed that only 58% of persons admitted to hospital with moderate or severe injuries were able to return to work one year after their injury. Additionally, in-hospital charges for lower-extremity injuries were astronomically higher than other types of extremity injuries. It’s important to note that these were just initial charges and did not include re-hospitalization or rehabilitation, which is often needed with leg injuries from car accidents. In fact, outpatient therapy for these types of injuries typically lasted 12 weeks. Thirty-three percent of these patients felt the financial impact of their injuries was severe due to loss of work and inadequate insurance coverage. 

What should I do after suffering a leg injury in a car accident?

Getting the correct diagnosis after a car accident is the first thing you should do. A proper diagnosis can help you heal faster and will help you avoid a possible permanent injury. A medical diagnosis not only helps to assure your well-being, but it can also help with documentation. Medical records are vital when it comes to receiving compensation for your injuries from your insurance company or when filing a legal claim if someone else is liable for the accident. 

Insurance can cover expenses like diagnostic tests, ambulance transportation, crutches or other mobility aids, surgery, and lost wages. However, if your injuries are severe or your policy coverage isn’t sufficient, you may be able to pursue a liability claim against the person or entity that caused the accident. You could be eligible to receive compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement or scarring, and anxiety and depression.

The personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have helped hundreds of thousands of people just like you over the past 30 years. When it comes to getting the compensation you deserve, our lawyers have an outstanding track record of success. You’ve made it this far. We can take it from here. Contact us day or night for a free case evaluation. We’re so confident in our ability to recover damages for our clients, that we don’t charge you a dime unless we win.

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