A fairly common work injury scenario in Arkansas goes something like this: A middle-aged employee, with a history of heavy manual labor jobs, twists his knee at work. He’s never really had any knee problems to speak of before; or at least none that he knows about. The treating physician does surgery to fix torn cartilage, or maybe a torn ligament. The operation doesn’t work, and the doctor says that the claimant needs his knee replaced. The claim seems to be going great, right up until the doctor recommends the knee replacement. The insurance company then alleges that the surgery isn’t work-related.
Unfortunately, this happens to working Arkansans far too often. Knee replacements are expensive, involve substantial residual permanent impairment, and can make it so all or at least portions of an injured worker’s claim will remain open for life. Insurance companies know this, and routinely try to skirt paying a partial or total knee replacement claim by making the argument that the claimant had “chronic” or “degenerative” knee problems that were present before the work injury. While it is true that many knee claims we handle involve claimants who have chronic, preexisting knee problems they don’t necessarily know about, the fact remains that if a work injury is found to be even the slightest cause of the need for a knee replacement, the insurance company is probably going to have to pay for it. If you’re content, however, to blindly rely upon the insurance carrier’s kindness and good will in this regard, you may be out of luck.
Have knee injury questions? Feel free to give us a call anytime.
Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law