Does Workers’ Compensation Cover A Torn Meniscus?
A Brooklyn workers’ compensation lawyer discusses this common injury
Workers are hurt on the job every year in Brooklyn and throughout New York, and their lives can quickly change. Workplace accidents can happen in just seconds and leave workers with serious injuries. They are in pain and need medical treatment. They may be unable to go back to work, at least temporarily.
Some of the most common types of workplace injuries are knee injuries. These injuries can have a significant impact on workers, as most jobs are dependent on this part of the body. Knees are used to walk, lift, climb stairs, stand, and bend down.
Knee joints are complex. They are made up of many different parts including bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. But one type of injury seen often in workplace accidents is a torn meniscus.
What is a torn meniscus?
The meniscus is the rubbery, C-shaped piece of cartilage that cushions the knee joint between the femur (thigh bone) and the tibia (lower leg bone). The meniscus helps to absorb shock, distribute weight, and maintain stability.
There are two menisci in each knee. One is the lateral meniscus, located on the outside of the knee. The other is the medial meniscus, located on the inside of the knee.
Twisting of the leg or sudden stops and turns can result in a tear in the meniscus. A torn meniscus can also be a repetitive motion injury that develops over time.
Symptoms of a torn meniscus can include pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the affected knee.
How can a torn meniscus happen in the workplace?
A torn meniscus can happen at the workplace in several ways, particularly if the job requires physical activity or repetitive motion of the knee joint. Some examples of workplace activities that could lead to a torn meniscus include:
- Heavy lifting: If workers lift heavy objects repeatedly, or lift a heavy object incorrectly, they could twist their knee or put too much pressure on the meniscus, leading to a tear.
- Standing or walking on hard surfaces: Standing or walking on hard surfaces, such as concrete floors, for prolonged periods can put excessive pressure on the knee joint, which may lead to a meniscus tear over time.
- Climbing stairs or ladders: Climbing stairs or ladders can put stress on the knee joint, which can lead to a torn meniscus, especially if the worker is carrying heavy loads.
- Slip and fall accidents: Workers may suffer a torn meniscus if they slip and fall, particularly if they land awkwardly on their knee.
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment and implement proper training programs that can reduce the risk of workplace injuries, including knee injuries. This includes training workers on proper lifting techniques and the use of appropriate footwear. But accidents can still happen, and workers can be hurt.
What should I do if I suffer a torn meniscus injury at work?
There are steps you should follow to protect your health and your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Get medical attention. You may think your knee injury is not that serious, or that it will get better on its own. But only a doctor can diagnose your injury. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
A doctor can perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI. Other tests such an arthroscopy may also be performed.
If you do have a torn meniscus, your doctor can begin treatment. This may include rest, ice, compression, elevation, and eventually, physical therapy. Surgery may be required in some cases.
Report your injury. Under New York’s workers’ compensation laws, you are required to notify your employer of a workplace injury to maintain eligibility for benefits. We recommend doing so as soon as possible. Submit your notification in writing so that there will be documentation.
Talk to an experienced Brooklyn workers’ compensation attorney. The workers’ compensation system is complex, and many initial claims for benefits are denied. An experienced lawyer can move your claim forward and guide you through the process every step of the way.
Is a torn meniscus a covered injury?
The short answer is yes, any injury that occurred on the job is covered by workers’ compensation. That means you should have coverage of all medical expenses for treating your knee injury, as well as partial lost wages while you are unable to return to the job.
However, that doesn’t mean your claim for benefits will be approved. Employers and insurance carriers often challenge claims. They may question the seriousness of your injuries. They may argue that your knee injury was pre-existing and not eligible for coverage. Claims can also be denied because deadlines were not met or forms were completed incorrectly.
That’s why it’s important to have experienced legal representation when filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
How can a Brooklyn workers’ compensation lawyer help me?
There is no requirement to have a lawyer when filing a claim, but the navigating the workers’ compensation system can be confusing and frustrating. With our thorough knowledge of workers’ compensation law and understanding of how the system works, we can:
- Ensure that all forms (including Form C-3, the employee’s claim for compensation) are complete correctly and submitted before deadlines
- Review your medical records
- Negotiate a settlement with workers’ compensation insurance companies
- Help you prepare for an independent medical examination (IME)
- File an appeal if your initial claim for benefits is denied
- Represent you at all hearings in front of the New York State Workers Compensation Board
- Build a strong case for benefits to present to an administrative judge
- Appeal a denied claim in court, if necessary.
If you suffered a torn meniscus at the workplace, it’s important get legal advice as soon as possible to protect your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP has been fighting for injured workers in Brooklyn and throughout New York for decades. We understand the impact a torn meniscus injury can have on workers and their families and can fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.
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