I Injured My Knee at Work. What Do I Do?

We never really think about how much we use our knees until we can no longer bend them, lift things, or even walk. If you suffer from a knee injury while on the job, you should consider filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Hurting your knee while at work could mean that you can no longer work, at least temporarily, which may make it close to impossible to take care of your monthly expenses.

Workers’ Compensation Basics

Employees who are hurt on the job are often entitled to workers’ compensation. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance by state law. It is in place to help employees with expenses that occur because they are hurt on the job.

To get started, talk with your supervisor or Human Resources representative to fill out a claim form. You may also need to complete an accident report.

Knee Injuries

There are many knee injuries that you may encounter on the job regardless of your occupation. Of course, occupations that require workers to lift things and be on their feet for the entire shift may be at a higher risk of knee injuries.

Common knee injuries include:

  • Sprained knees;
  • Shattered kneecaps;
  • Torn cartilage; and
  • Repetitive stress injury.

Injuries to knee are extremely common for nurses, fast food workers, construction workers, and warehouse workers. A slick floor, a spill, or simply continuing to make the same small motions for an extended period of time can lead to a knee injury.

Knee injuries can be serious and require surgery. They can also cause you to suffer with lifelong permanent issues that require you to use a knee brace, a walker, or even a wheelchair.

If you hurt your knee on the job, it’s a good idea that you make an appointment with a doctor right away.

Under workers’ compensation, you have the right to receive emergency medical care. You may also ask for a list of doctors who can see and treat your knee injury at no charge.

Until your appointment, it may be a good idea to keep the weight off of your knee, elevate it, and alternate with heat and ice to lessen the swelling and the pain.

I Injured My Knee at Work. What Do I Do?

Benefits Available Through Workers’ Compensation

There are many benefits that you may be eligible to receive if you choose to file a workers’ compensation claim for your knee injury.

These benefits include:

  • Help with your medical expenses. This is one of the most well-known benefits of workers’ compensation. If you hurt your knee on the job, you may be eligible to get assistance with medical expenses, physical therapy, surgery, medications, and medical equipment that you need.
  • Payment of lost wages. In some instances, workers may be entitled to receive a portion of their lost wages while they recover from their knee injuries. Workers’ compensation has guidelines for both temporary and permanent disability payments.
  • Occupational training. If you’re no longer able to work in your chosen field, you may be eligible to receive occupational training through workers’ compensation. You will learn skills that you can use in other fields.

Steps to Take When Filing a Knee Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim

Workers’ compensation tends to be compulsory in almost every state unless you work in some agricultural or contract jobs. Every state has a workers’ compensation agency of some kind which regulates the way claims are made and employers’ responsibilities. You will need to find out what steps you need to take and when they should be completed in the state you work in. Failure to keep to the procedure or stay within time limits could lead to a rejection of your claim.

The typical first step after a workplace injury, if you have to leave your job while getting treatment, is to notify your immediate supervisor, or manager about the injury. The time, date and nature of the injury should be recorded officially. Usually there is a time limit for this, which could be days or weeks after the date of the injury.

It’s a good idea to take a note of who saw a specific accident happen. The most common reason for a claim denial is suspicion that an injury was either pre-existing or didn’t take place at work, so statements from co-workers who can verify seeing your injury can pre-empt such a decision being made by your employer’s insurer.

You will need to find out if you have to use a preferred doctor or medical facility. Some insurers insist on it and others don’t have a preference and let you use your own providers. Some insurers again, make you see their own preferred doctor first for an initial diagnosis, and then you can choose your own doctor or medical center for further treatment.

At some stage, you will want to file a workers’ comp. claim. This may be filed directly with the insurer or with the state WC agency, depending on the state you work in. You will need to have supporting documentation, evidence that the injury was work related and file it within the state’s statute of limitations, typically two or three years from the date of the injury.

Examples of Evidence for Claim

The main forms of evidence that you should include in a WC claim are:

  • evidence that the knee injury happened at work, e.g. statements from fellow workers, supervisors, etc.
  • doctor’s diagnosis and statement explaining that the injury needed specific treatment that required time away from the job;
  • any reports or test results from a medical provider such as a hospital, clinic or other medical facility showing the degree of seriousness of the knee injury;
  • receipts from medication you had to purchase, e.g. pain killers;
  • any other bills or invoices for medical treatment related to the injury, such as surgery and associated treatment, including anesthesia and hospital stay.

I Injured My Knee at Work. What Do I Do?

Potential Settlement for a Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Knee Injury

There is no hard and fast way of knowing what you could receive as part of a knee injury claim. You should receive compensation for lost wages, which are usually a percentage of what you might have earned for a specific time period after the injury. Much depends on whether you need surgery and post operative physiotherapy. It may be worthwhile postponing a claim until after surgery if this is necessary, as you won’t know the full cost of treatment to include in your claim until after the operation, especially if there are complications.

Apart from delaying filing a claim because of uncertainty about how much to claim, your claim could be denied if the insurer is not convinced that the knee injury actually happened at work or you don’t have enough paperwork. It is best to see a workers’ comp. attorney if your knee injury is serious to discuss how best to proceed.

How Much is a Workers Comp Knee Injury Settlement?

A workers’ comp knee injury settlement depends on the seriousness of a knee injury. The National Safety Council released a study that indicates the average settlement for a knee injury sits around $33,000 for a workers’ compensation case. Calculating the value of a knee injury settlement is to take two-thirds of your wages at the time you received medical care for the injury.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states just nine out of every 10,000 workers suffer a knee injury each year. Although the number of knee injuries suffered on the job is low, the seriousness of the knee injuries typically warrants the filing of a workers’ compensation claim. Serious knee injuries include fractures, dislocations, and ligament tears. Intensive surgery and long-term rehabilitation are two common criteria that define serious knee injuries.

The amount of money you receive for a workers’ compensation claim for a serious knee injury depends on the extent of your injury. Getting a fair settlement can be difficult because employers and their insurance companies frequently fight workers’ compensation claims to avoid an increase in insurance premiums. To get what you deserve in compensation, you must prove your knee injury has resulted in substantial costs for medical care.

This means you need to submit documents that demonstrate the results of diagnostic tests, as well as describe the treatment and rehabilitation costs for your knee injury. You also should submit receipts that show how much money you have spent on prescription medications and the use of an assistive device. If you missed work because of a knee injury, you submit financial statements that show a decrease in wages.

Talk With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you hurt your knee on the job, you should take the time to talk with a workers’ compensation attorney. A workers’ compensation attorney can answer any questions that you have about your rights under the law.

You will be able to find out if you’re being treated fairly by your employer. If not, a workers’ compensation attorney may be able to assist you in getting everything that you deserve for your knee injury.