Orthopedic Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

Orthopedic Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in PennsylvaniaOne common truth of every occupation in America is that work-related injuries can happen when you least expect it. Even remote workers are at risk of suffering from specific work-related injuries. Some of the common work-related injuries are slip and fall accidents, overexertion injuries, and injuries from falling objects.

Overexertion injuries are the result of a worker engaging in a task that is beyond his or her physical abilities. They are the types of injuries that can also result from a worker straining or spraining specific parts of the body, often over an extended period of time. Overexertion can lead to disabling orthopedic injuries. When it does, eligible employees can make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

What is an orthopedic injury?

An orthopedic injury is an injury to the musculoskeletal system. This type of injury often affects the joints of the body, including those in the ankles, wrists, elbows, knees, hips, and shoulders.

Some of the common orthopedic injuries include sprains, meniscus tears, rotator cuff tears, tennis elbows, carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, and dislocations. A broken bone is also considered an orthopedic injury, as are hernias, neck and back injuries.

What are overuse injuries?

Overuse injuries (also called repetitive motion injuries) are injuries to the soft tissues that can affect bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Overuse injuries are often long-term conditions that can affect mobility, such as spondylolisthesis (which involves slipped vertebrae) and osteochondritis dissecans (a condition where the cartilage in the knee separates from the joint.)

What orthopedic injuries are common in Pennsylvania workplaces?

There are specific occupations where overexertion or repetitive motion for employees is common. Industries such as the construction industry, retail industry, healthcare industry, and shipping industry require workers to perform strenuous tasks that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

Employees in these specific industries are constantly performing physical tasks such as lifting, pulling, carrying, stretching and pushing. They often walk several miles a day on concrete floors. The constant physical labor and strain that employees are forced to perform can create new tears or strains, and exacerbate old injuries.

Why are orthopedic injuries so serious?

Employees who sustain overexertion injuries can suffer chronic pain. Even if an employee is able to heal from an overexertion injury, many workers have a high chance of re-injury, which can necessitate long-term physical or occupational therapy or surgical intervention.

Can workers who suffer orthopedic injuries file a workers’ compensation claim?

Orthopedic injuries are serious injuries that can have a significant impact on an employee’s ability to work. Employees who suffer from orthopedic injuries have the option of filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Workers’ compensation benefits are benefits that employees are entitled to receive after suffering a work-related injury. These benefits pay for medical expenses and lost wages while the employees recover. Almost all Pennsylvania employees are entitled to some form of workers’ compensation.

However, employees have a limited amount of time to report a work-related injury to an employer.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act states that an employee is not entitled to compensation unless an employer knows about a work-related injury. The employee has the responsibility of notifying an employer about a work-related injury within 21 days of the workplace accident in order to receive benefits retroactive to the date of injury.  If the injury is not reported until between 22 and 120 days after the injury benefits will only be payable as of the date of the report.

If an employee waits more than 120 days to inform an employer of a work-related injury, the employee will likely be denied workers’ compensation benefits, even if they would have been entitled to benefits had the injury been timely reported. Employees who timely report their injuries in the state of Pennsylvania have a time period of three years to file a workers’ compensation claim.

What are some challenges that employees face with workers’ compensation claims?

One of the biggest challenges that employees face in a workers’ compensation claim is proving that the injury actually happened in the course of their job duties. This challenge is especially true for workers who suffer orthopedic injuries, which may be sustained outside of work originally, but increase in severity because of work-related tasks. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may try to deny the claim for this reason, or for other reasons altogether.

How do you prove you were injured at work?

There are actions that employees can take to help prove that an orthopedic injury is work-related. One of the most important actions employees must take is to seek immediate medical attention every time your injury acts up. Please note, however, that if your employer has a valid panel physician list you must treat on that list for the first 90 days of treatment or the workers’ compensation insurer may not pay your medical bills. Because many orthopedic injuries worsen over time, it is important for employees to obtain as much documentation as possible of any work-related ailments. All medical documentation can be used to strengthen an employee’s workers’ compensation claim. You want to show you are following all of your doctor’s orders as well, so make sure to attend all follow-up consultations.

A doctor or orthopedic surgeon can assist with proving the nature of the orthopedic injury. A physician’s expertise can help to answer certain information such as whether a patient’s work injury was work-related, any restrictions that the patient is under, whether the patient can fully recover from the injury, and the expected recovery period.

If you have been injured at work, contact KBG Injury Law for a free consultation. KGB Injury Law has served York, Lancaster, Hanover, Harrisburg, and Gettysburg for nearly 40 years and our experienced attorneys can guide you through the workers’ compensation process. Attorneys at KBG Injury Law will help strengthen your workers’ compensation claim and ensure it is filed properly so you can get the results you deserve. Call us today at 717-848-3838 or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation.