Is $175,000 a Good Settlement for a Knee Surgery From a Car Accident?

My wife recently mentioned a lawyer TV commercial where the advertisement touts a $175,000 settlement for a car accident that involved knee surgery. She asked, "Is that a reasonable settlement for knee surgery?"
Clayton T. Hasbrook

Written by Clayton T. Hasbrook. Last modified on February 16, 2024

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Without knowing more about the case, there’s no telling if the law firm got a “good deal” for the plaintiff, settled on the cheap, or even if that was the max the insurance company could pay under its policy. The commercial doesn’t mention:

  1. Was the client happy with the result? The “dramatization” is by an actor
  2. The medical bills
  3. The medical treatment and for how long
  4. Amount of missed work
  5. The patient’s prognosis and age
  6. Potential future medical care
  7. How the accident affected their day-to-day living
  8. What the insurance policy limits were

Medical Billsknee physical therapy

According to BlueCross BlueShield, the average price for an inpatient knee replacement between 2010-2017 is $30,249. Inflation has increased since 2020, so there’s a good chance that the dollar amount is underestimated for a more recent surgery. We don’t know what treatment the patient received other than knee surgery.

If the case resembles most personal injury cases, the patient likely initially went to an emergency room after the car accident. It sounded like a serious wreck, so there’s likely an ambulance bill too. Without looking at the records, there’s no way of knowing how much diagnostic work was done at the ER. The hospital bills could be anywhere from $1k-10k or more.

There’s also a good chance the patient was referred to a specialist to evaluate the knee. Most doctors initially prescribe conservative treatment, so the patient likely did physical therapy for at least a few weeks before surgery was recommended.

At the very least, the patient had physical therapy after the surgery. The average for that is around 12 weeks. So, add another $5-10k to the medical bills. The commercial also ignores what other injuries the car accident victim received. A car accident severe enough to cause knee surgery likely at least caused some neck and back injuries. Physical therapy and diagnostic work could easily be another $10-20k.

How long was the medical treatment?

Did the patient get a quick diagnosis and surgery early on after the wreck, or was the surgery 12 months later? This affects the total amount of bills, pain & suffering, and work missed. Did the patient quickly recover after the surgery, or did physical therapy last more than 12 weeks? If the patient was employed, he or she likely missed significant time from work. That could easily be at least 12 weeks.

How old is the plaintiff?physical therapy for knee injury

According to the Mayo Clinic, most knee replacements can be expected to last 15 to 20 years. I think it’s safe to assume the cost of another surgery will be higher by then. Don’t forget to include pain & suffering or missed work during the second or third surgeries.

Day to day affects of the injuries

Did the victim have to pay someone to help them around the house or a babysitter to help watch the kids? What about mowing the lawn? Can they still go dancing or work out at the gym like before?

Insurance Policy Limits & Negotiations

I’d like to know what the insurance policy was in this case. If it’s a $175k policy, how soon was it offered? We don’t know from the commercial if a lawsuit was filed. If it was a “policy limits” case, did the attorney negotiate the medical bills down? How much work was done on the case? If the bills were higher than the conservative estimates I tried to use, did the insurance company offer the policy immediately after receiving a copy of the medical bills?

What were the case costs and attorney fees?

The “standard” personal injury lawyer fee is 1/3rd. Were there case costs? Getting the medical records and the filing fee isn’t very expensive, but paying for a doctor’s time to testify in a deposition or trial is. How many depositions were required on the case? Court reporter fees add up.

Was the client happy with the result?

I listed this above as the first factor, as it’s the most important, but was this “dramatization by an actor” an accurate description of how the client felt? $175k sounds like a decent settlement, but deducting the medical bills, case costs, and attorney fees might not be a “good deal” for the client. Taking the numbers above, with estimating the bills:

Knee Settlement from TV Commercial$175,000
Attorney Fees (if 1/3rd)-$58,333.00
Surgery and Hospital Stay-$30,249
Knee Physical Therapy-$10,000
Emergency Room & Xray-$10,000
EMSA (Ambulance)-$1,200
Possible Amount to Client$65,218

Of course, this ignores the other damages that the plaintiff likely had. How much work did he or she miss due to the wreck? Is $12k a fair number? What about future medical bills? We don’t know the plaintiff’s age, but there will likely be at least another surgery (plus, don’t forget to include the pain & suffering from when it occurs).

Other Settlement Factors

Perhaps this is a fair or even good settlement, but we won’t know without a lot more information. If it’s a “great deal” for the plaintiff, why? Maybe the plaintiff already had a bum knee that needed to be replaced, or it was a disputed liability case.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Negotiate a Car Accident Settlement for Knee Surgery?

Knee injuries from car accidents can have a profound effect on your life, leading to substantial medical costs, lost income, and emotional distress. Understanding the factors influencing settlement values and seeking skilled legal representation is crucial in protecting your rights and obtaining fair compensation for your losses. If you’ve suffered a knee injury due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to Hasbrook Law, an Oklahoma personal injury law firm, to ensure your interests are fully represented.

Knee Injury FAQs

What factors are considered when determining a knee injury settlement in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, a knee injury settlement takes into account several factors, including:

  • Medical expenses: Both immediate and future medical costs, such as surgeries and rehabilitation.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for income lost due to the injury, including potential earnings and benefits.
  • Pain and suffering: The physical discomfort and limitations caused by the injury.
  • Emotional distress: The psychological toll of the injury, including stress and depression.

How are medical expenses factored into a knee injury settlement?

Medical expenses are a critical component of a knee injury settlement. They include the costs of all medical treatments related to the injury, from initial emergency care to long-term physical therapy. These expenses are calculated based on actual bills and anticipated future medical needs.

Can I recover lost wages in an Oklahoma knee injury settlement?

Yes, lost wages are recoverable in an Oklahoma knee injury settlement. This includes compensation for the income you would have earned if the injury had not occurred, such as salary, bonuses, and any other work benefits.

How are pain and suffering quantified in a knee injury claim?

Pain and suffering are evaluated based on the severity of the injury, the duration of discomfort, and the impact on the individual’s daily life. This non-economic damage compensates for the physical pain and limitations experienced as a result of the injury.

What types of knee injuries are common in Oklahoma settlements?

Settlements are commonly associated with knee injuries such as ACL tears, meniscus tears, and patellar fractures. The settlement amount is influenced by the injury’s severity and its impact on the individual’s life and earnings.

How can I ensure the best possible outcome for my knee injury settlement?

To ensure the best outcome for your knee injury settlement, it’s important to:

  • Collect all relevant medical documentation and evidence.
  • Maintain open communication with your attorney.
  • Attend all medical and legal appointments.
  • Understand the settlement process and your legal rights.

What settlement amounts are typical for ACL tear cases in Oklahoma?

Settlements for ACL tear cases in Oklahoma typically range from $10,000 to $300,000, depending on factors such as the injury’s severity, medical costs, and impact on the victim’s life.

Are future medical costs included in knee injury settlements?

Yes, future medical costs are included in knee injury settlements. This encompasses anticipated expenses for ongoing treatment, potential future surgeries, and any long-term rehabilitation required due to the knee injury.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partner, Clayton T. Hasbrook who has years of legal experience as a personal injury lawyer. Our last modified date shows when this page was last reviewed.