Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition in which the cartilage between the bones begins to break down, eventually causing the two bones in the affected area to rub together, bone-on-bone. Osteoarthritis, also called WEAR and TEAR arthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 37.5% of Americans suffer from the condition. Many of these cases are caused, at least in part, by a person’s job.
Those who are suffering from a WEAR and TEAR injury like OA may be able to obtain New Jersey worker’s compensation benefits. Pursuing benefits can get workers the time they need to heal and provide them with medical benefits and income-replacement benefits until they can safely return to work. If an OA diagnosis prevents a worker from returning to their job, they may qualify for permanent disability benefits. If you are suffering from OA symptoms, you don’t need to work through the pain; you have options.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Medical experts have determined a list of factors that can increase someone’s risk of developing OA.
Generally, the risk of developing OA increases with age. For example, just 7% of people under the age of 44 report doctor-diagnosed OA, whereas nearly 50% of people over the age of 65 report doctor-diagnosed OA.
Women are at a much higher risk of developing OA. However, more men than women develop OA among those who are diagnosed before the age of 45.
Those who are overweight are more likely to develop OA because the added weight puts more stress on the joints. This is especially the case for OA that affects the load-bearing joints, such as the hips or knees. Medical experts also believe that being overweight may result in changes to a person’s metabolism that increases their risk of OA.
Like many other joint conditions, OA is hereditary. While having a family member with OA does not necessarily mean you will develop the condition, it does increase the chance of an OA diagnosis.
Those who regularly make the same motion suffer an increased risk of developing OA in that particular joint. In this way, many occupations can either cause or contribute to an OA diagnosis.
Generally, the symptoms of OA will worsen over time, and while these symptoms can be managed with the appropriate medical care, damage to the joint cannot be reversed.
Can You Claim Benefits for Osteoarthritis?
If you are suffering from osteoarthritis you may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.
When most people think of a New Jersey work injury, horrible thoughts of catastrophic accidents come to mind. While these terrible events do happen, many work injuries are much subtler. WEAR and TEAR injuries like OA affect millions of New Jersey workers, and too many continue to suffer in their work when they have other options.
The unfortunate reality is that many workers are pressured to “work through” their pain or are made to feel weak for taking time off to get the necessary medical treatment for an injury that no one else can see. However, the symptoms of OA will get worse if nothing is done to treat the disease, and workers who are dealing with the symptoms of OA should get checked out by a doctor to obtain a diagnosis and then discuss the possibility of pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.
The New Jersey workers’ compensation program allows those who suffer from OA to obtain benefits. However, you should not expect an easy time getting your claim approved. To succeed in a workers’ compensation claim, you will need to prove that your work either caused or contributed to your OA. In the case of a traumatic injury, the injured worker may be able to show that the trauma accelerated or aggravated the underlying OA. Alternatively, an injured worker would have to show that his or her repetitively stressful job duties materially contributed to or caused the OA.
Problems can arise anytime a worker seeks benefits for an occupational disease that can be caused by many non-job-related factors. Osteoarthritis fits into the category. Thus, employers and their insurance carriers routinely deny workers’ comp claims based on an OA diagnosis, claiming that the worker developed the condition from something outside the workplace.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Workplace Injury Lawyer
If you recently learned that you suffer from osteoarthritis or another type of WEAR and TEAR injury, give the experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Petro Cohen, P.C. a call. We have more than 100 years of combined experience handling all types of workers’ comp claims, including those based on an osteoarthritis diagnosis.
Working with a dedicated New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer can make the process of obtaining benefits much easier. Our attorneys can review your medical records and your job description to help you prove that your OA was related to your job. They will also handle gathering all the evidence you will need to present a compelling claim and will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Even if the insurance company has already denied your claim, you can still reach out to an attorney to have them take a closer look; you may have missed something important.
At Petro Cohen, we understand that WEAR and TEAR injuries can significantly restrict an employee’s ability to perform expected job duties as well as an employee’s daily activities. Just as with acute injuries, the pain of a WEAR and TEAR injury can be severe. However, with these type of injuries, the pain tends to get worse over time, especially if left untreated.
We have taken on and successfully handled many types on WEAR and TEAR injuries like osteoarthritis, such as trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back injuries, and many other types of injuries including shoulder, knees, hips, and hands. We will work closely with you and your medical providers to gather the necessary documentation to submit your claim promptly and accurately.
For your convenience, we have four convenient offices in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney, reach out to one of our dedicated personal injury attorneys today by calling 888-675-7607.