Understand your rights to compensation after a knee injury at work
Workers in nearly every industry are at risk of developing a knee injury. Serious Knee pain can affect a worker’s ability to lift, climb, kneel, walk and more. Even sedentary jobs that require minimal physical labor can become difficult if a worker is unable to sit comfortably for extended periods.
Fortunately, Arizona law allows employees who injure their knees in the course of their job to receive compensation for their injuries.
Common workplace knee injuries
Because there are many ways workers can injure their knee joints, work-related knee injuries can manifest as several different conditions. Some of the most common types of knee injuries include:
- Fractured patella, tibia or fibula
- Muscle strain
- Sprained ligament
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
- Collateral ligament injury
- Meniscus tear
- Torn tendon
Common causes of knee injuries in workers include:
- Frequent kneeling on hard surfaces
- Frequent bending or squatting
- Lifting heavy objects
- Sudden movements
- Repetitive motions
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Objects striking the knee
Jobs where knee injuries are common
A knee injury can happen in any workplace. However, workers report knee injuries in some occupations more often than others. The following workers are more likely to be exposed to hazards that could lead to knee injuries:
Workers’ compensation laws in Arizona
Arizona law requires most employers with 1 or more full- or part-time employees to provide workers’ compensation coverage. As a type of no-fault coverage, workers’ comp is available to most injured workers whether or not the worker was at fault in their workplace accident.
Eligibility for workers’ comp benefits
Arizona workers’ comp benefits are generally available to workers who are classified as full-time or part-time employees. The employees must be employed by an employer that carries legally-mandated workers’ comp coverage. In most cases, independent contractors and volunteers are ineligible to receive workers’ comp benefits.
Injured workers can receive benefits for an injury that results from a one-time accident, as well as for an occupational injury or disease, like osteoarthritis, which occurs over time. In order to get workers’ comp benefits, workers only need to prove that their injuries or illnesses were a direct result of their job duties or work environment.
Arizona government employees are also eligible for workers’ comp benefits if they’re injured on the job, although the rules and procedures for filing a claim are slightly different. An experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney can inform you of your rights and ensure all necessary procedures are followed when applying for benefits.
Benefits available to injured Arizona workers
Insurance companies require injured workers to be examined by an approved physician to establish their injuries and to determine the types of benefits the worker will receive. Upon approval, workers may receive the following types of benefits:
- Coverage for medical expenses, including bills for doctor’s visits, diagnostic services, medical supplies, medical devices, hospital stays, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication and medical transportation expenses
- Lost wage replacement to supplement two-thirds of the injured worker’s lost income while they are unable to work or can only work in a limited capacity
- Death benefits paid to the injured worker’s surviving dependents in the event of a fatal work accident, including funeral expenses and lost income
Filing a workers’ comp claim in Arizona
Injured Arizona workers should take immediate action to properly document their injuries and file a claim for compensation. To begin the workers’ comp process, injured workers should take the following steps:
- Visit a doctor immediately. It’s always best to seek medical care as soon as possible after any injury. Make sure to ask the doctor to note that the accident is work-related.
- Notify your employer. You should immediately notify your employer of the accident that caused the injury, preferably in writing. After they receive notification, your employer is required to notify their insurer and the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) within 10 days.
- File a claim. Workers are required to file a claim with the ICA to receive benefits. Your claim must be filed within 1 year of your injury or illness, or your benefits will likely be denied.
- Contact an attorney. If your claim is denied or you need help with the process of filing a claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
Workers can initiate the workers’ comp claims process on their own. However, consulting an attorney prior to filing a claim is advisable to ensure your rights are protected.
What if you don’t agree with your doctor? Our attorneys can help Arizona workers change their treating physician after a workplace accident.
Preventing knee injuries while on the job
Employers and employees can both take steps to help prevent knee injuries.
Employers should provide knee protection that is appropriate for each worker’s tasks. In addition to providing protective equipment, employers should teach workers proper safety protocols and train managers to supervise safety practices in real-time.
For workers, wearing the correct footwear can significantly reduce strain on the knees. Additionally, if your work requires frequent kneeling, lifting or bending, you should consider using knee pads and ensure you implement proper lifting techniques to minimize wear and tear. Workers should also always listen to their bodies and be mindful of symptoms that may indicate strain on their knee joints.
Contact an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney
Workers’ compensation injuries can be difficult to prove, especially if your injury or illness didn’t result from a one-time accident. Unfortunately, legitimate claims are denied every single day, and workers without legal representation may have difficulty navigating the claims process and obtaining the compensation they deserve.
If you’re suffering from a work-related knee injury in Arizona, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski. We specialize in workers’ comp cases and are proud to have been helping injured Arizona workers recover the compensation they deserve for more than 40 years.