Are knee injuries and knee replacements covered by workers’ comp?
A knee injury is one of the most common and painful types of work injuries. Knee injuries, which can be quite debilitating, are common among nurses, construction workers, delivery drivers, plumbers, carpenters and auto mechanics.
Due to how the knee functions as a load-bearing joint, knee injuries are particularly common in the workplace. The inner part of the knee contains joint cartilage. So when the knee stretches or bends, the inner part of the kneecap slides along the femur. This reduces the amount of friction received between the bone and the tendon. Ultimately, the kneecap should prevent the tendon from slipping out of place.
Injuries are often the result of repetitive stress, overexertion or overuse. Anyone with a job that requires carrying heavy lifting or frequent kneeling may be more likely to sustain a knee injury. Workers experiencing sharp pain or even grinding, stiffness or aching in the knee should report this to their employer immediately and seek medical treatment.
Common types of work-related knee injuries
Knee injuries can be particularly painful, but they can also lead to chronic medical conditions. There are different types of knee injuries, including:
- Kneecap fractures
- Meniscus tears
- ACL and MCL tears
- Fibula fractures
- Tibia fractures
Possible treatments for knee injuries
Treatments for knee injuries vary based on the type of injury sustained. In some mild cases, a doctor may recommend the use of ice and heat along with rest. It’s not uncommon for workers recovering from a knee injury to wear a brace or even a cast for a few weeks or months.
Other possible treatments may include physical therapy, along with medication and steroid injections. In some more severe instances, surgery may be required or even a total knee replacement.
The cost for treatments varies depending on the severity of the injury and the required treatment.
Are you eligible for workers’ compensation in North Carolina for a knee injury?
Employees in North Carolina who have sustained a knee injury as part of their employment are typically eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Affected employees will need to demonstrate that their injury was the result of their employment. Witness statements, medical records and photos may be used as documentation.
Injured employees may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages as well as medical bills and disability benefits. Injuries from slip and fall accidents and vehicle crashes may be easier to prove than gradual repetitive stress injuries (RSIs).
In the case of a relatively minor injury, the employee may be able to receive treatment and recover fully. When this is the case, the employee would receive compensation for any lost wages as well as payment for medical treatments and then be able to return to work.
However, when an employee sustains a disability that continues either temporarily or permanently, workers’ compensation benefits become more complex. In such cases, compensation may be based on the percentage of disability and whether you’re able to return to work at all.
Employees who are considered temporarily disabled are eligible to receive benefits during their healing period for up to a maximum of 500 weeks. The employee must be unable to work for more than 7 days in order to be eligible to receive benefits. Payments under workers’ compensation are based on two-thirds of the average weekly wage of the injured worker.
In the event the employee is able to return to work in some capacity, but isn’t able to return to work full-time, the employee may be eligible to receive two-thirds of the difference between their regular wages and their current wages for a period of up to 500 weeks.
When it comes to permanent disability benefits, it’s necessary for a doctor to make a decision regarding the percentage of impairment or loss of function the employee has experienced. This percentage will determine the amount of compensation.
When suffering from a work-related knee injury, employees may find it beneficial to contact a workers’ compensation attorney who has experience handling such complex cases. Even if an insurance company is stalling or refusing to pay, our knowledgeable legal team may be able to help.