Experienced Monmouth County workers' compensation lawyers discuss what you should do if you sustain a knee injury on the job
Workers rely on their knees and legs each day to walk, stand, lift items and climb stairs. The knees and legs provide the support and range of motion needed to perform many job functions. Any injury to the knees can make performing certain tasks difficult and even painful.
If you sustained a knee injury at work, you may need significant medical treatment. Even after your treatment, you may find it difficult to perform the same tasks you did prior to your injury, especially if you worked a physically strenuous job. Serious knee injuries (such as tears to the ligaments) often require surgery or a knee replacement.
The aftermath of a workplace injury can be very frustrating and overwhelming. You may wonder how you'll make ends meet while you recover. The good news is, you may be eligible for workers' compensation, which is a no-fault system in New Jersey. While you only need to prove that your injury occurred within the scope of your employment, the process is more difficult than it sounds. The workers' compensation attorneys at Shebell & Shebell, LLC discuss the most common types of knee injuries workers sustain and the course of action you can take if you were hurt on the job.
The meniscus is a rubbery layer of cartilage that connects the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (shin bone) and acts as a shock absorber. There are two types of meniscus ligaments: medial meniscus (inside of the knee joint) and lateral meniscus (outside of the knee joint).
Types of meniscus injuries:
- Acute tear. This type of meniscus tear happens suddenly and is often seen among athletes or workers who perform strenuous tasks. It's often caused by sudden twisting of the knee, and improper lifting and squatting. People who sustain this type of injury often feel popping, stiffness and pain in the knee. It's also common to experience knee swelling and instability.
- Degenerative tear. This type of meniscus tear is common in older workers due to wear and tear. A degenerative tear usually results in knee stiffness, aching, pain, swelling, clicking and popping.
In many cases, meniscus tears can be treated with rest, pain and inflammation medication, a knee brace, and physical therapy. If you sustained an acute meniscus tear, you may need an operation to repair the damaged tissue.
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
The purpose of the ACL is to keep the knee stable and prevent unnatural bending or twisting of the knee. The ACL is one of the easiest ligaments in the knee to injure, however. ACL injuries or tears often occur due to knee twisting, falls or being struck by objects or equipment.
There are generally two types of ACL injuries:
- Partial tears. This type of ACL injury occurs when some of the cartilage tears, but the rest remains intact. Partial tears often result in popping, swelling, pain and stiffness in the knee. This type of injury often only requires rest, medication for pain and inflammation, and physical therapy.
- Full tears. This type of ACL injury requires surgery. Rather than sew the cartilage back together, a surgeon would need to extract cartilage from another ligament and use it to replace the damaged ACL.
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury
The PCL is located in the back of the knee joint and stops the knee from bending forward or hyperextending. If the knee becomes hyperextended in a workplace accident, the PCL can tear or snap, causing an unnatural bend in the knee.
As with an injured ACL, a PCL consists of a partial or full tear. A partial tear is usually treated with medication, rest and physical therapy. After a full tear, the PCL is sometimes removed and replaced with another piece of cartilage.
Damaged patella tendon
The patella tendon is situated just below the knee cap and helps with bending and straightening the knee. A rupture or tear of the patella tendon is one of the most painful types of knee injuries. It's often caused by an awkward landing on the feet or a fall, a direct blow to the knee or a laceration. When the patella tendon is damaged, it may be difficult to bend or lift your leg. People who sustain this type of injury may also have trouble putting weight on the affected leg and experience swelling at the front of the knee.
Treatment for a patella tendon tear may include applying ice, resting, and using prescribed medication for inflammation and pain. If the patella tendon is completely torn, then surgery will be required to sew it back together. This will likely be followed by more than six weeks of wearing a knee brace and undergoing physical therapy.
The bones in and around the knee can be broken due to a fall or blow to the knee. People who sustain knee fractures often experience serious pain, especially when walking or placing weight on the affected leg. They also experience bruising, swelling, trouble extending the leg, and difficulty with standing or walking.
Surgery is often required when a bone fragment in the knee becomes displaced. Otherwise, you would need to wear a knee brace and avoid putting weight on the affected leg until your doctor says it's OK to do so. Full recovery from a knee fracture can take several months, depending on your age, general health, and whether or not you abide by your doctor's recommendations.
What to do if you sustained a knee injury on the job
If you sustained a knee injury on the job, it's critical that you first notify your employer in writing. Be sure to write down the date, time, and location of your workplace accident, as well as the names of witnesses. You should then see a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can further look into your knee injury by performing a physical examination, X-ray, and MRI. Make sure that you tell your employer that your injury happened at work and ensure that your medical evaluation and diagnosis are documented.
Filing a workers' compensation claim in New Jersey is more complex than you may realize. That's why it's important that you speak to an experienced Monmouth County attorney who knows how the system works.
In New Jersey, workers' compensation benefits will cover:
- Your medical expenses
- Seventy percent of your average weekly wages
- Permanent partial disability benefits if you can return to work, but have to take a lower-paying job due to your injury
- Permanent total disability if you're unable to return to work due to your injury
The legal team at Shebell & Shebell, LLC will work with you to ensure that all paperwork is properly filled out and all important documentation is obtained before litigating your case. We'll also negotiate with your employer's insurance company for a fair and full financial settlement. Our law offices are located in Shrewsbury and Freehold, New Jersey. Contact us online or call us for a free legal consultation.