The knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. Your knees bear your entire body weight, and they are crucial to your functioning. If you suffer a serious knee injury on the job, you can miss work for quite some time. If your job is very physical, you may never work again.
Obtaining the right workers’ compensation settlement for a knee injury is crucial for you and your family. The attorneys at Horton Mendez can fight for your interests when you have a complex or valuable workers’ compensation claim.
Types of Knee Injuries Sustained on the Job
There are numerous ways that you can injure your knee on the job, including:
- Tearing cartilage or ligaments when you slip and fall on an uneven surface
- Repetitive stress injuries, in which years of continuous and physical usage causes damage to the joint (such as bursitis or tendonitis)
- Fracture of the patella when there is trauma to your knee (such as hitting it in a fall or being struck by an object)
- Dislocation of your knee cap when the joint moves awkwardly or suffers trauma
Work-related knee injuries can occur suddenly or over time. It may be more challenging to connect repetitive stress injuries to your job, making these workers’ compensation claims more complex.
Treatment of Knee Injuries
Your knee is made of cartilage and ligaments. When damaged, cartilage and ligaments will not heal on their own. You may need knee surgery to repair the damage. Knee surgery to repair a damaged ligament or meniscus can have long recovery times. You may not recover the full range of strength and motion in your leg after these procedures. In addition, you will also require a lengthy rehabilitation to recover as fully as you can
In some cases, your knee may be worn down after years of stress and damage. No amount of surgery or rehabilitation may repair the joint. In that case, you may need a total knee replacement.
Regardless of the type of injury you have, knee injuries can be debilitating and can keep you from doing your job. You need to see an orthopedist as soon as possible, both so you can begin to recover and so that you can file a workers’ compensation claim within the appropriate time frame. Your knee injury can grow worse over time if you have not sought medical attention.
You Can Obtain Workers’ Compensation Benefits for a Knee Injury
You must follow a process to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for your knee injury. Here is what you will need to do to open a claim:
- You are legally required to notify your employer of your work-related injury within 30 days of the injury (this timetable can be problematic when you have suffered a repetitive stress injury, and there is some question about when you knew or should have known of your injury.
- You will need a medical diagnosis that shows that you have suffered an injury.
- You have two years from the time of the injury to file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
If your claim is denied, you will need to file an appeal. The insurance company does not get the final say about your benefits. It is possible to take them on and win when you can show that you suffered a work-related injury.
How Much Is My Work-Related Knee Injury Worth?
There are two parts to your workers’ compensation benefits:
- The cost of your medical treatment related to your injury
- A portion of the wages that you had earned prior to your injury
Your workers’ compensation benefits for your knee injury depend on the scope and severity of the problem. If you have suffered a temporary total disability, you will receive benefits until you can return to work. Your weekly benefits will equate to ⅔ of your wage before your injury, subject to a statutory cap (in 2022, the cap was $1,184 per week).
If you have been permanently disabled, your compensation will be calculated differently. You will receive a disability rating depending on the severity of your injury. You may need to contest your disability rating because it can be used to limit your compensation. Your possible benefits will be multiplied by your disability rating to come up with the amount of money that you can get each week.
If you have suffered a serious injury, you may get a 100 percent disability rating, meaning that you will be entitled to your full benefits. Your disability rating may change over time if you have been reexamined.
You may negotiate a settlement with the insurance company to receive the entire amount of your benefits upfront. Once you sign an agreement, you will lose the right to seek further compensation, so it is vital to get the agreement right. An experienced attorney can help you work out a settlement.
Contact a Wilmington Knee Injury Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The lawyers at Horton Mendez Injury Attorneys can help when you have a contentious or complex workers’ compensation claim. You may particularly need our services when you are being evaluated with less of a disability than you really have. We can also help you appeal a denial of benefits.