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Is My Knee Replacement Work-Related?

Knee replacements can be work-related.

And--importantly--knee replacements result in signficiant monetary compensation for injured workers.   Any employee undergoing a knee replacement surgery should consult with their surgeon (and an attorney) to discuss whether or not the surgery should be filed as work-related.

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Knee replacments can be compensable from two types of work-related "injuries":

1) Occupational Exposure:

A worker's job duties over a period of time can play a role in the degeneration or progression of a bad knee condition.  Unlike a one-time traumatic event, this type of injury is based on the cumulative stress a worker places on their joints in their line of work.  These are known as occupational exposure claims, and if a doctor indicates the job duties were a material, contributory, causative factor in the onset or progression of the knee condition, a knee replacement surgery can be compensable under the law.

A wide range of job duties could result in an occupational exposure knee replacement claim.  Examples could include: prolonged standing; repetitive bending and squatting; repetitive up and down steps; long periods on concrete/metal flooring; repetitive lifting; and more.

Notably, if a worker has been employed by mutiple employers, the last employer whose work contributed to the medical condition is on the risk for the workers' compensation claim.

2) Traumatic Injuries:

A specific one-time trauma certainly can be a work injury claim.  Many initial injuries to a knee can give rise to a later need for a knee replacement.  Specifically, a worker that has a work-related meniscus tear or ACL tear can have a surgery to repair the injury and then return to work.   If that same worker continues to experience knee problems 2-5 years down the line, a doctor may recommend a total knee replacement surgery.   That knee replacement surgery can still be work-related if the doctor believes the initial injury and surgery caused the worker to have a knee replacement sooner in their lives than the natural progression of a degenerative knee.

Note that the statute of limitations (for traumatic injuries after March 2, 2016) is six years--meaning the total knee replacement needs to happen within six (6) years of the injury or last compensation payment.


At a minimum, a knee replacement is "worth" 50% Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) to the  knee.  This entitles a worker to 212.50 weeks of PPD benefits at their date of injury permanency rate.  For example, a work injury in 2018 that resulted in a total knee replacement would equal 212.50 weeks at the $362/week rate--totaling $76,925.00.  Thus, knee replacements carry subtantial dollar values for the injured worker.

Any injured worker undergoing a knee replacement is advised to talk to an attorney about whether or not they can pursue a workers' compensation claim. 

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Domer Law, S.C.
3970 North Oakland Avenue
Suite 201
Milwaukee, WI 53211

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