Knee Injury Compensation Claims

Common Causes of Knee Injury

The knee is the largest and one of the easily injured joints in the body.

Work- Related

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to suffer a knee injury at work. In 2019-2020, reports SafeWork Australia, there were over 11,400 serious workers' compensation claims related to knee injuries. In many cases, the knee injury occurred as a result of either physical stress or a workplace accident.

Physical Stress and Wear

It's not surprising that work-related knee injuries arise from physical stress or wear and tear on the knee. In 2019-20, over 44,000 workplace injury serious claims reported body stress as a mechanism of the injury.

Common knee injuries resulting from physical stress, overuse and wear include:

  • Knee pain, including patella-femoral pain syndrome or 'runner's knee', caused by damage to cartilage in the knee from repetitive movements
  • Inflammation of the bursae - structures that provide cushioning and support to the moving parts of the knee
  • Some, usually minor, ligament or tendon damage

For example, a worker whose job regularly required walking over uneven ground, squatting and weight-bearing on their knees may suffer sufficient physical stress on the knee to result in injury.

Workplace Accident

An accident in the workplace is more likely to be associated with a more serious knee injury. The knee may be twisted suddenly, be subject to excessive force or severe impact, or it may hit, or be hit by an object.

A worker injured in this way may suffer serious injury, such as:

  • A tear within the ligaments or tendons in the knee
  • Complete rupture of a ligament or tendon
  • Tearing of the cartilage in the knee
  • A fracture to the patella (kneecap), or the end of one of the large bones in the knee
  • Dislocation of the kneecap or the entire knee

Talk with an experienced WorkCover lawyer to learn more.

Motor Vehicle or Car Accident

Blunt force trauma to the bones of the knee during a car accident is a significant cause of fractures to the bones forming the knee. A motor vehicle accident may also result in similar injuries to those described above for a workplace accident.

Slip, Trip or Fall

The Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (AIHW) reported in 2020 that falls are the leading cause of injury in Australia.

Falls from significant heights are a common cause of fracture-type knee injuries. In 2013, SafeWork Australia reported that work-related knee injuries accounted for 16% of serious fall-related claims.

Because they involve direct force to the knee structures, the types of knee injury likely to occur in a slip, trip or fall is similar to those described in relation to other accidents above.

In older individuals, wearing of the tendons, ligaments or cartilage from repeated use may increase the likelihood that a knee injury from a fall will result in more serious consequences.

Find out more about making a motor vehicle compensation claim.

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Common Types of Knee Injuries

The knee joint is a complex structure made of several types of tissue including:

  • Bones
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Cartilage
  • Muscles
  • A capsule of connective tissue (called the synovium)

The bony structures of the knee include the femur, tibia and fibula, which are some of the largest bones in the body, along with the patella or 'knee-cap'.

The knee joint is susceptible to a variety of injuries. Because it's an integral part of the function of the leg, serious knee injury is particularly impactful for an injured person. So what are some common knee injuries?

Ligament Damage: Sprained Ligament, Torn Ligament

Ligaments are strong, but stretchy, bands of tissue that connect one or more bones at a joint.

There are four ligaments in the knee:

  • 2 cruciate ligaments - the anterior (front) and posterior (back) - which cross each other to form an 'X'. They connect the femur (thigh bone), to the tibia (shin bone) and control forward and backwards movement of the knee.
  • 2 collateral ligaments - the medial (inside) and lateral (outside)

These ligaments connect the thigh bone to the shin and calf bones and help stop the knee from moving side-to-side.

Probably the best known knee ligament injuries is a sprain or tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), but this type of knee injury can occur to any ligament. A ligament strain, or sprain, occurs when the ligament is overstretched.

A tear or rupture, either partial or complete, is a more serious knee injury and usually occurs when the knee is subject to excessive force or twisting. ACL ruptures may require reconstructive surgery. Any knee injury involving a ligament rupture or tear will likely require the knee to be braced and weeks or months of rehabilitation.

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Tendon Tears

Like ligaments, the tendons in the knee can tear if overstretched. Tendons are similar to ligaments, except they connect bone to muscle (rather than bone to bone).

Two major tendons in the knee are:

  • The quadriceps tendon, attaching the quadricep (thigh) muscle to the kneecap
  • The patella tendon, which attaches the patella or kneecap to the shin bone - as this attaches bone to bone, it is technically a ligament

Minor tears to the tendons may be able to managed non-surgically, but complete tears are usually severe knee injuries that can leave the injured person unable to straighten their leg or put weight on it and often require surgical intervention.

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To provide support and minimise friction as the structures of the knee move around each other, there are small, fluid-filled 'cushions' in the knee. These are called 'bursae'.

The bursae can become irritated or inflamed, often due to over-use of the joint, for example by performing repetitive movements. But it can also develop as a result of a chronic condition, or following a knee injury.

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Cartilage Damage (Torn Meniscus)

A tear or split in the cartilage supporting the knee is one of the most common types of knee injury. Cartilage acts like a 'shock absorber' in the body and is particularly important in joints, where bones could otherwise impact each other and be damaged.

In the knees, there is cartilage called the 'meniscus', which consists of two wedge-shaped pieces of tough, rubbery cartilage tissue protecting the ends of the tibia and femur.

Damage to the meniscus can resolve with rest and physiotherapy, but an arthroscopy may be required.

Another cause of knee pain is 'patella-femoral pain syndrome', an injury caused by wear and tear to the cartilage behind the knee.

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Kneecap Injury

Like any bone, the kneecap can be fractured or broken. This type of knee injury will usually be caused by a direct impact or trauma to the bone. Less commonly, knee injuries involving dislocations of the kneecap or entire knee are possible.

Symptoms that occur when an injured person suffers one of the knee injuries listed above include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling or inflammation- Hearing a 'crack' or 'pop' sound
  • Being unable to put weight on the affected leg, for example, because the knee buckles
  • Being unable to bend or straighten the knee
  • Visible deformation of the area around the knee injury

It's important to seek medical attention immediately to determine the extent of any knee injury. As discussed above, serious injuries of this type may require surgery.

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What Evidence is Required to Make a Knee Injury Compensation Claim?

As discussed above, there are several different types of knee injuries, each of which can vary in seriousness. Therefore, each compensation claim for knee injuries will require different evidence, depending on your circumstances and the facts and issues in the case. A specialist personal injury lawyer can provide specific advice in your case. As a general guide anyone claiming compensation for this type of injury will need evidence proving:

  • How the injury occurred and how it presents, e.g., the symptoms exhibited by the person, impairment to knee function, level of pain
  • Treatment already provided and that will be needed in the future
  • Any long term impacts of the injury, and the prognosis, including whether there is likely to be permanent impairment
  • Medical costs, including fees for doctors and specialists, hospitalisation costs, medicines
  • Likely future costs of medical treatment (including surgical interventions like reconstructive surgery), ongoing care and rehabilitation services
  • The injured person's usual income and projected future earning capacity
  • The amount of pain and suffering endured as a result of the knee injury
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Am I Eligible to Make a Knee Injury Compensation Claim?

WorkCover Claim

If you have suffered a knee injury at work you may be able to make a Workers' Compensation claim. The law says that an injured worker can seek compensation if:

  • The injury arises out of their employment or in the course of their employment
  • The employment is a 'significant contributing factor' to the injury

Your employment will be a significant contributing factor if the work you do is a major cause of the injury.

Some examples of when a knee injury may be determined to arise out of, or in the course of, your employment for workers' compensation purposes include where the injury happens while you are:

  • At your workplace and performing your work duties
  • While you're doing your work somewhere other than your usual workplace
  • While on a break, or while travelling to or from work

Common Law or Court Claim

You may be able to claim compensation by pursuing a Common Law claim. This type of claim for a knee injury will generally be made on the basis that a person or organisation has been negligent.

Negligence is a type of legal claim that can be made where a person:

  • Owes you a 'duty of care', or a responsibility to avoid you suffering harm
  • Breaches the duty of care - this means they didn't exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would use in the circumstances
  • Your injury was caused by them failing to take reasonable care

Compensation claims for negligence can be complex. To determine if you're eligible to make a claim and the likelihood of a successful outcome, we offer a free initial consultation.

Is There a Time Limit For Claiming Knee Injury Compensation?

Yes, there are strict time limits to make either a WorkCover or Common Law claim.

A claim must be made to WorkCover or a self-insurer within 6 months from when the injury occurred, or when your knee injury is first linked to your workplace duties by a doctor.

Generally, personal injury claims in the courts must be made within 3 years of the injury occurring. Before lodging a court claim there are certain steps you may need to take under the law to notify the responsible person that you intend to make a claim.

These time limits can be relatively straightforward to work out if your injury is caused by a single incident. However, knee injuries can develop over time - so if you want to claim compensation it's best to get advice early. We offer a free consultation for any potential personal injury case, where we can advise you about these time limits and discuss the claims process. If you decide to proceed, we will ensure your claim doesn't miss any deadlines.

Obviously, the first step after any knee injury is to get the right treatment to get you back on your feet and moving around. But seeing a solicitor specialising in personal injury law, once your doctor says you're able, can put your mind at ease, knowing your injury claim is in good hands.

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How Long do Knee Injury Claims Usually Take?

Queensland workers' compensation statistics show that the average time to finalise a Common Law or court claim is just under one year.

The length of time it takes to resolve your claim will depend on whether or not you can reach a settlement with the person or organisation you are claiming against. If you can, it will mean you get your compensation payment sooner than if your case has to go to a trial or hearing in court. Whether or not a settlement can be reached often depends on the strength of the evidence in the case and having a skillful negotiator on your side.

It's important that you seek advice earlier as you may be able to lodge an application for compensation with WorkCover Queensland or a self insurer. If you have your claim accepted, you can start getting weekly payments for lost wages, and payments for medical expenses. Seeing workers' compensation lawyers early about a no win no fee claim can mean you start receiving payments while you consider all your claim options.

How Much Does it Cost to Lodge a Knee Injury Compensation Claim?

There is no cost to lodge a workers' compensation claim with WorkCover or a self-insurer.

For Common Law claims, the fees depend on how much work is required to obtain your compensation. Some factors affecting the legal costs include:

  • The amount of evidence and what we need to do to collect it
  • How complex the case is
  • The cost of getting expert advice and reports, such as evidence from specialists about your medical treatment

What Is The Average Compensation Payout In a Knee Injury Case?

Knee injuries can vary significantly in seriousness, and so knee injury compensation awards vary as well. The amount of compensation awarded will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The seriousness and physical impact of the injury
  • The likely extent and timeframe for recovery
  • Medical bills, including hospital expenses, doctor and specialist fees, and medication costs
  • Future medical expenses and rehabilitation costs - this includes ongoing treatment, mobility aids, gym equipment, medical supplies, and other health care products
  • Lost income, and your ability to work and earning capacity going forward
  • The impact of the injury on your personal life, like your ability to engage in recreational and sporting pursuits
  • An additional amount for pain and suffering
  • The legal costs you have incurred

Given all these factors, it's difficult to give an average that would really help you understand how much compensation you might receive.

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Can I Represent Myself When Making a Knee Injury Claim?

It is possible to represent yourself to claim compensation for a knee injury. However, many people who seek compensation find they appreciate the help of specialist personal injury lawyers to navigate the legal process. Expert lawyers can advise how much compensation you're entitled to and what evidence you need, and answer any questions you have along the way.

Personal injury law can be complex and making a personal injury claim in Court can be particularly daunting. It can help to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer early on and we offer a free consultation for this purpose. We can discuss whether a knee injury claim is the right move for you, explain the legal process and describe the no win no fee no catch promise on which we provide legal representation.

If you decide to claim compensation, our personal injury solicitors will listen to your story and provide compassionate and straightforward advice and legal representation to help you throughout your claim.

Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim

If you suffer injuries whilst at work, and you are looking for further information in terms of making a claim. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer a free consultation for injured people looking to seek compensation. As mentioned before, we also have a "No Win. No Fee. No Catch." policy, which means you will never be out of pocket.

Get in touch with us today to give yourself the best opportunity to understand your rights.

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