Work-related knee injuries are extremely common. In fact, they are second only to back injuries when it comes to workplace accidents that result in days lost from work. The knee joint plays a critical function in the human body: without it, you cannot stand, sit, walk, run, or lay down without distress. It is also the largest joint in the body and must bear most of the body’s weight. The knee joint contains several bones and muscles held together by ligaments and tendons and cushioned with cartilage and fluid filled sacs called bursae. On-the-job knee injuries can leave workers with serious chronic pain and other long-term medical issues.
What are Some Common Workplace Knee Injuries and Their Causes?
Work-related knee injuries can happen for many reasons but workers whose jobs require them to stand, kneel regularly, or carry heavy weight loads are at greater risk for developing knee injuries because of overuse or repetitive stress. Slip and fall accidents are another source of many workplace knee injuries. Occupations such as auto mechanics, restaurant workers, nurses, cleaners, carpenters, and construction workers have higher rates of knee injuries.
The most common types of workplace knee injuries include
- Fractures: knee fractures typically happen as the result of slip and falls and are very serious sometimes requiring surgery. To allow the bone to heal the knee must be immobilized.
- Meniscus tears: the meniscus cartilage acts as a shock absorber for the bones of the knee. The meniscus can tear as the result of twisting or pivoting motions, and it can also wear out over time and then tear.
- Ligament tears: the knee joint is held in place by ligaments, and they can tear when the knee is overextended or forced beyond their capacity. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is commonly injured as are the posterior, medial, and lateral ligaments.
- Dislocations: the knee bones can be dislocated or moved out of place by a fall or collision such as a motor vehicle accident, or any large impact to the knee joint
- Tendonitis: repetitive motion can cause the tendons of the knee to become inflamed causing pain and limited motion
- Bursitis: the bursae are the sacs of fluid that cushion the movement of the ligaments and tendons over the knee joint. When they become inflamed it can be painful and limit the knee’s motion.
- Sprains and strains: overuse and overexertion or working in awkward positions can cause sprains and strains of the knee joint
How are Knee Injuries Treated?
While some minor knee injuries can be treated by resting the joint to allow it to recover, other injuries are accompanied by more serious symptoms such as significant swelling, pain, or bruising. If you are unable to bend or put weight on your knee after a work accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, or muscle relaxers. A brace can help stabilize the joint and crutches may be used to help avoid putting weight onto the knee joint.
For some knee injuries, physical therapy may be prescribed to help strengthen the muscles of the joint and increase range of motion.
When non-invasive treatments are unsuccessful, surgery may be needed to treat your knee injury. Surgery can be used to explore the joint and identify what is causing the problem, or to fix the injury. The knee may require a total replacement in cases of serious injuries in older workers.
Are Knee Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Delaware Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system of insurance designed to help workers who are injured on the job or who develop an illness related to their occupation. Even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. In return you may not sue your employer for damages related to your work accident.
Knee injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation, and you may receive some or all of the following benefits for your work-related knee injury:
- Medical benefits: including doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, prescription medication, and physical therapy
- Wage loss benefits: these benefits help cover wages lost during time away from work as you recover from your injury. This is usually two-thirds of the amount of your earnings.
- Temporary and/or permanent disability benefits: these payments are made if your knee injury leaves you unable to continue working
What If My Claim for My Knee Injury is Denied?
Diagnosis of an injury is important when filing a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits. The initial diagnosis determines what treatment you receive afterward. Your employer’s insurer must approve treatment and be willing to pay for it. In the case of a knee injury, often the insurance will acknowledge it as a sprain or strain even when testing can confirm a more specific diagnosis. This makes it possible for them to refuse paying for any expensive treatments you may eventually need like surgery. An experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney will be familiar with this kind of tactic and know how to handle a knee injury claim that is being denied because it has been wrongly classified as a sprain or strain. A good attorney familiar with the Workers’ Compensation system will also know the maximum allowable benefits for your case and can check that your wage loss benefits have been correctly calculated. If you have questions or concerns about your work injury claim or your claim has been denied, consider consulting with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer. Consultations for Workers’ Compensation cases are most often free of charge so you have nothing to lose by meeting with a lawyer who can inform you of your rights to benefits.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Fight for the Rights of Injured Workers
Workers’ Compensation is complex and can be tough to navigate on your own. If you have suffered a knee injury on the job, talk to the experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. We provide personalized representation to every client and will fight to make sure you receive all the benefits you are eligible for. Call us at (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. With offices in all three counties in Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.