Ligaments connect bones to other bones in your body and keep your joints stable, enabling you to perform all sorts of work and daily activities that require bending and twisting of the knees, shoulders, and other joints.
Ligament tears suffered in a Texas car crash can leave you physically incapacitated, suffering extreme pain, and in need of medical treatment. If your accident was caused by someone else, you’re entitled to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Ligaments in Your Knees Are Prone to Injury
There are four ligaments that stabilize and control the movements of your knee:
- Anterior cruciate (ACL)
- Posterior cruciate (PCL)
- Medial collateral (MCL)
- Lateral collateral (LCL)
While these ligaments are more commonly injured in athletic traumas, a collision can also cause strains and tears. One common knee injury in a car crash is dashboard knee. Dashboard knee results when your knees are driven into the dashboard of your car in a rear-end or head-on accident. The impact of the crash can tear one or more of the knee ligaments and result in swelling, bruising, tenderness, and restricted movement, making it hard for you to walk or even stand up without assistive equipment like crutches or a knee brace.
Car Crashes Can Damage Shoulder Ligaments
Your shoulder joint is stabilized and protected against dislocation by four types of ligaments:
- Transverse Humeral (THL). These ligaments hold the head of the biceps in place.
- Coracoacromial (CAL). These ligaments connect the coracoid process and the acromion (the two parts of your shoulder blade). CAL damage can lead to impingement syndrome, a narrowing of space between the rotator cuff and the acromion, which can then rub painfully against the tendons and bursa of your shoulder when you raise your arm.
- Coracoclavicular (CCL). These strong ligaments connect the clavicle (collar bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade) and keep your shoulder “square.”
- Glenohumeral (GHL). These ligaments connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm for joint stability.
A “T-bone” car accident, in which your car is struck from the side by another motorist, can result in severe shoulder trauma and ligament tears, the symptoms of which include swelling, pain, deformity of the shoulder, and restricted movement.
Car Accident Ligament Tears and Treatments
Ligament tears are classified according to their severity, and the recommended treatment depends on the grade of injury as follows:
- A microscopic tear (grade 1) can generally be treated with the RICE method, which includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation, along with anti-inflammatory medication.
- A partial tear (grade 2) also requires the RICE treatment, as well as the temporary use of a shoulder sling or knee brace.
- A complete tear (grade 3) requires arthroscopic surgery to reattach the ligament to the bone.
All torn ligament treatment is typically followed by physical therapy to get you back to the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Steps to Take After a Texas Car Crash
There are several steps you can take immediately after a car accident to strengthen and protect your damage claim if you’re physically able to do so. If your ligament damage makes one or more of these steps impossible, ask someone nearby to assist you with the following actions:
- Call 9-1-1 to report your accident. When police respond, answer their questions honestly with basic information. Do not elaborate, argue, or admit any fault to anyone.
- Take photos of the vehicles involved in the wreck, focusing on visible damage and license plates, as well as skid marks, damaged guardrails, and any other evidence at the scene.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s) and get contact information from any witnesses.
- Note the location of nearby security or red-light cameras that might have footage of the crash.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Symptoms of ligament damage might not surface right away, but a doctor’s exam and/or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test can reveal injuries you don’t know about and provide documentation that is crucial to your damage claim.
- Notify your auto insurer of the accident.
- Do not talk to adjusters from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Do not post anything on social media about your accident or injuries.
- Consult a car accident attorney for a free consultation to evaluate your case.