Our knees take a lot of stress throughout the day, and as a result, knee injuries are incredibly common in the workplace. Not only do knee injuries, such as a meniscus tear, occur with surprising frequency, but they also tend to keep employees out of work longer than other types of on-the-job injuries. If you’ve suffered a torn meniscus at work or believe that your knee injury was a result of your job-related duties, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 9% of all workers’ compensation claims in 2019 were based on knee-related injuries. This made knee-related injuries the third most common type of work injury after back and hand injuries. The National Safety Council found that knee-related injuries resulted in an average of 19 days of missed work, whereas other types of injuries resulted in an average of eight days away from work. It also found that the average total cost for those suffering a work-related knee injury between 2017 and 2018 was over $33,000.
Meniscus tears are a very common type of job-related knee injury. While anyone can suffer from a torn meniscus, those who work in professions that require frequent kneeling, running, or prolonged periods of standing are at the greatest risk.
What Is a Torn Meniscus?
The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage that surrounds the kneecap and is located where the shinbone meets the thighbone. There is one meniscus on either side of the knee cap. The purpose of a meniscus is similar to that of a shock absorber in that it protects the bones around the knee from the normal vibrations and forces that normally occur as we walk, run, and kneel.
A meniscus can tear if the knee is forcefully twisted or rotated. For example, the following actions can cause a torn meniscus:
- Making sudden stops,
- Pivoting directions,
- Squatting, and
- Lifting heavy objects.
The symptoms of a torn meniscus include:
- Pain when rotating the knee;
- Pain when trying to fully extend the knee;
- The feeling that the knee could give out; and
- The feeling that the knee is locked in place.
Generally, doctors perform a physical exam and order imaging tests to diagnose a torn meniscus. Once diagnosed, in most cases, doctors order a conservative course of treatment, including icing the knee and resting. However, in some cases, physical therapy and surgery may be necessary.
Workers’ Compensation for Meniscus Tear
Given the pain associated with a torn meniscus and the physical limitations you may face after suffering from this type of injury, it can be difficult—if not impossible—to do your job. The good news is that if you’ve suffered a meniscus tear, you may be eligible for New Jersey workers’ compensation benefits.
The workers’ compensation system provides two important benefits to workers who were hurt on the job. The first is medical benefits, which cover the costs of all medical care necessary to treat the work-related injury. The second is temporary disability benefits, which are income-replacement benefits that are provided to an injured worker in lieu of a paycheck. The amount of workers’ compensation benefits depends on the severity of the limitations caused by the injury, as well as the injured worker’s rate of pay. Eligible workers can receive workers’ comp benefits on a short-term or long-term basis, depending on their recovery time and whether they can return to work.
Workers’ comp benefits are only available, however, when the injury occurred at work or was related to the injured employee’s job. Importantly, the fact that a worker suffered from a history of knee problems will not prevent them from obtaining benefits. The question is whether the injury (or worsening of the injury) occurred because of the worker’s job-related duties.
For those who suffered a knee-related injury while on the job, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits for a torn meniscus may be relatively straightforward. However, if the injury occurred while away from work, the process can be more challenging, as an employer may argue that the injury was caused by something other than the employee’s work.
Contact an Experience New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Those workers who are suffering from a torn meniscus should reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for assistance with their claim. An attorney can assist with the application process to ensure that benefits are not unnecessarily delayed due to paperwork errors or missed deadlines. Additionally, a workers’ comp lawyer can advocate on behalf of injured workers to help convey the full extent of their injuries, potentially maximizing their benefit amount.
At Petro Cohen, P.C., we have successfully handled thousands of workers’ comp cases for clients, including many cases for workers suffering from a torn meniscus. The attorneys at Petro Cohen can help make workers’ compensation work for you. We solve problems. We get results. We help our clients get the medical treatment they need and the compensation they deserve.
The firm’s Workers’ Compensation Department head, Frank Petro, is respected locally, regionally, and nationally as a leading attorney in this specialized field. He has been recognized as an outstanding attorney by Best Lawyers® every year since 1995 and by Super Lawyers® every year since 2005. Moreover, he has achieved a rating of “Superb” on the leading lawyer-review website, Avvo®, the highest achievable rating.
Along with Suzanne Holz Meola, Terri Hiles, Daniel Rosenthal, and Samuel Scimeca, the workers’ compensation team has more than 100 years of combined experience and a winning track record for helping hard working people like you. We take the time to listen to your case and can guide you to ensure you receive adequate compensation.
If you are injured at work, make sure you have an experienced NJ workers’ comp attorney in your corner. Call Petro Cohen, P.C. today at 888-675-7607 to request a free consultation regarding your work injury.