Leg injuries including injuries to the knee, ankle joint, or fractures of the tibia and fibia can happen at work and can cause impairment and disability. When a knee injury such as a slip, a pop, or a twisting injury causes pain and swelling, very often a meniscus or ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) has been torn. There can be weeks or even months of physical therapy, knee bracing, MRI studies and surgery which could be performed in order to fix a knee injury. In cases of a fracture, sometimes an open reduction and internal fixation (plate and screws to fix the bone) of the fracture has to be performed by an orthopedic surgeon. These types of injuries can cause temporary disability during the course of healing, and during that time you should be paid temporary total disability (TTD). This payment should be two-thirds of your average weekly wage. After returning to work, there may be a permanent impairment that must be measured by a physician under the A.M.A. Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Ed. If there is, you should be compensated for permanent impairment, and if that injury has caused you to be unable to do the job you were doing when you were injured, the payment for permanent impairment is increased.
Sometimes a knee injury will not be fixed by a simple meniscus repair surgery, and to fix the knee requires a total knee replacement. Workers' Compensation insurance companies often deny this type of treatment because the underlying problem, which is a lack of cartilage in the knee, or a “bone-on-bone” appearance on x-rays, is caused by long-term degeneration of the knee, and was not caused by the injury. However, the current law in Kentucky is that if the problems in your knee did not arise until after the injury, and you had not had symptoms in your knee before, the surgery is work-related and must be paid under workers' compensation. This is called the arousal of a dormant pre-existing condition into disabling reality. If your doctor has recommended a knee replacement, you should contact me for a consultation to see if I can represent you. It takes an attorney with years of experience to prove that a knee injury and the need for a knee replacement is the responsibility of the workers' compensation insurance carrier. The resulting permanent impairment is also the responsibility of the workers' compensation carrier, and you should be compensated for this impairment under the law.