The hip joint is one of the largest in the body. It is also the major weight-bearing joint. This combination makes normal functioning of the hip important in everyday life. However, when the hip is damaged in an automobile accident, the effects can be devastating. Not only will the injury affect your ability to walk,it will also place abnormal stress on the joints and tissues above and below the joint. Usually, the force needed to damage the hip must be significant due to the presence of large muscles that protect it from minor accidents.
Let’s look at the hip joint, its structure and function and the ways in which a car accident can alter the normal physiologic situation. We’ll also examine hip injuries secondary to a traffic accident and the different types of damage that can result as well as how a car accident lawyer can help.
Hip Anatomy Stabilizes the Joint
The hip is a strong joint that lends stability to the body. It is a ball and socket joint and connects the pelvic acetabulum with the large bone in the thigh, the femur. The acetabulum is a depression or cup located on the lower, lateral part of the pelvic bone. The depression is enhanced by a collar that is made up of white fibrous tissue and cartilaginous tissue. The hemispherical head of the femur fits into the acetabulum perfectly.
There are ligaments in the hip joint that increase its stability. These are the intracapsular and the extracapsular ligaments. The intracapsular ligament contains a small portion of the obturator artery. This artery supplies some blood to the hip joint. There are three extracapsular ligaments. These are the iliofemoral ligament, the pubofemoral ligament and the ischiofemoral ligament. They run continuous with the outer surface of the capsule.
Nerve and Vascular Supply to the Hip Joint
Three nerves innervate the hip. They are the obturator nerve, femoral nerve and the sciatic nerve. Since the three nerves that innervate the hip also innervate the knee, this explains why problems in the hip joint can travel to the knee. The blood supply to the bone is provided mainly via two branches of the circumflex femoral arteries, called the medial and lateral branches.
They are named after the direction they take after branching. The blood supply is mostly carried through the medial circumflex femoral artery, so if this artery is damaged, it can result in avascular necrosis of the head of the femur. Avascular necrosis is a serious condition caused by the lack of blood supply to the bone.
The Hip Bone
The hip is composed of three bones. These are the ilium, ischium and the pubis. These bones also form the acetabulum. The ilium is the widest bone and is at the top of the pelvis. It has an inner surface, which is concave, and an external one that is convex. The external surface attaches to the gluteal muscles. The sciatic nerve runs through a depression at the top of the ilium called the greater sciatic notch.
The pubis is located anteriorly and forms the space through which the obturator nerve, artery and vein pass called the obturator foramen. Fractures to the pubic bone can occur with even moderate trauma. The ischium is the posterior part of the hip bone and combines with the pubis to form the obturator foramen.
High energy impact during a car accident can result in fractures to the pelvic bones. The fracture may involve both the acetabulum and the femur. This means the sacroiliac joint is compromised and can cause a good measure of instability and pain. This is an emergency situation, and immediate surgery is required. Because of its proximity, the urethra and the bladder may be injured.
If a blood vessel is damaged, it could cause significant hemorrhage. All patients with extensive pelvic trauma are automatically thought to be hemorrhaging, and a pelvic binder is used to add stability and decrease blood loss until surgery can be performed.
Symptoms After Hip Injury
Pain in the legs, groin or back is the number one symptom. Others include lower back pain due to trapped nerves, inability to put weight on the hip joint and severe pain in the upper leg and knee.
Types of Hip Injuries
The injuries common when the hip is damaged are:
- Hip Labral Tear From Car Accident: The labrum is made up of fibrocartilage and provides stability for the hip joints. When a tear to the labrum occurs, pain typically follows in the front and side of the hip and sometimes in the groin area.
- Bursitis: This is due to inflammation in the hip joint after injury. It can cause swelling, decreased movement and pain.
- Acetabular fracture: This is a fracture of the hip socket and is very painful. It is common in high-speed crashes.
- Hip fracture: This happens differently depending on the type of accident. Basically, if any of the three bones of the hip are fractured, it is referred to as a pelvic fracture. It can be caused by a side impact or by smashing the knee into the dash. In front-end collisions, the leg can be pushed into the acetabulum. The intensity of the force can cause the femur to dislocate. It can also cause a fracture of the femur, a very serious problem.
- Hip dislocation: This makes it impossible for the individual to walk. They will most likely experience a popping sound when the hip dislocates.
Steps After the Accident
If your hip is broken or dislocated, it might be too hard for you to leave the vehicle without assistance. Even small attempts at moving will cause extreme pain. In some cases, drugs and crutches might help until a minor fracture heals. But in others, the hip may be immobilized for some time along with the need for physical therapy before any movement can be attempted. If the damage is extensive, surgery to repair the hip is needed.
Liability for a Hip Joint Injury
Due to the inability to get around after a hip injury, the victim may be unable to work. This can lead to income loss and high medical expenses at the same time. If a negligent driver caused the accident, it is possible to reclaim the following:
- All medical costs
- Lost wages now and in the future
- Lost earnings in the future
- Pain and suffering
Hip Injury Car Accident Settlement
How much is a hip injury case worth? This depends on the type and intensity of the injury. Besides the amount of costs due to medical expenses and wage loss, it is important to determine the extent of the pain and suffering you will experience. Some particularly serious hip injuries can lead to extensive or permanent disability. When this happens, it is possible that the court or the settlement could be over $1 million.
It is necessary to have a personal injury lawyer on your side who is experienced in this type of injury. Whether he or she will negotiate with the defendant and/or their insurer or if the case is taken to civil court, the attorney will strive to obtain the compensation you deserve. The attorney must have the resources to confer with medical experts before starting the negotiations or the trial.
If you are suffering from hip pain after a car accident, we can help. The Law Offices of David will provide a free review of your important hip pain injury claim so you can know how to proceed to obtain the justice and fair compensation you deserve. Contact us online today or call (800) 991-5292.