How Much Is a Workers' Comp Knee Injury Settlement?
November 22, 2023 · 4 min read
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In 2020, nearly 88,000 Americans injured their knees while at work and about 40% of them needed to miss at least a month of work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 If you injured your knee on the job and are struggling to return to work, you could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, which include weekly payments to replace lost wages, and coverage for your medical expenses. You may also be able to receive a big workers’ comp settlement depending on how serious your injury is and how much work you miss.
How much is the average workers' comp knee injury settlement?
According to 2023 data from the National Safety Council, the average workers’ comp knee injury settlement is $35,332. Of that, the insurance company paid $17,323 in indemnity, while the remaining $18,009 covered medical care.2
Keep in mind, though, that there is no universal settlement amount for knee injuries. The type of knee injury you have, the extent of your injury, and whether you also injured other body parts — like your legs or ankles — can all affect your settlement amount. If you have a preexisting condition that affects your knee, it could also complicate your recovery and increase your payment amount. How long your injury is expected to keep you out of work is another key factor in your case.
For example, workers with fractures settle for an average of $62,240 according to the National Safety Council. In contrast, a sprain usually results in a settlement of about half that amount and an injury that requires an amputation could lead to a settlement worth more than $120,000.
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Do all knee injuries qualify for workers’ comp?
All knee injuries can qualify for workers’ comp as long as they happen on the job and leave you unable to work. That said, you have a limited amount of time to report your injury to your employer, usually three to seven days. After that, it’s much more difficult to qualify for workers’ comp benefits. You also need to miss work for a certain amount of time before benefits kick in, again usually three to seven days. (Learn more about waiting periods.)
If you’re an independent contractor, freelancer, or gig worker you generally won’t qualify for workers’ comp.
Because work-related injuries vary greatly, many different knee injuries will qualify for workers’ comp, including anything that causes knee weakness, pain, stiffness, loss of motion, or decreased range of motion. You can also qualify if your injury affects more than your knee, like your ankles, legs, or hips.
Examples of workers’ comp knee injuries
The list below isn’t exhaustive, but it does include some of the knee injuries that most commonly qualify for workers’ comp.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries, like ACL tears
Posterior cruciate ligament injuries, like PCL tears
Bursitis or tendonitis
Patella injuries, like a fractured or dislocated kneecap
Cuts and abrasions
You injury can also qualify whether it was caused by a one-off accident or from repeated strain over time. Whether the injury was your fault doesn't affect your payments.
When does workers’ comp offer a settlement for a knee injury?
Workers’ comp doesn’t always offer a settlement for a knee injury, and they’re more common for injuries that’ll keep you out of work for an extended time or require expensive medical care. Chronic cases — illnesses or injuries you’re unlikely to fully recover from — often lead to a settlement.
If the insurance company is going to offer a settlement, they most often do so right after your benefits start or after you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI). Many insurance companies will settle quickly for serious injuries to avoid months or years of payments and medical bills. That said, the insurer may also wait until you approach MMI to see whether you’ll likely return to work or if you will qualify for permanent disability benefits.
If you’re offered a settlement for your knee injury, you can respond in one of three ways:
Accept the settlement.
Reject the settlement (and continue receiving benefits).
Negotiate the settlement amount.
Choosing the right option for your knee injury can be complicated, so discussing your settlement offer with a workers’ comp lawyer can help you receive adequate compensation for your situation. A local lawyer will know what a reasonable payout is for your knee injury, your job, the cost of medical care in your area, and other factors.
The goal is to secure a settlement that covers your current and future medical expenses as well all the other bills you need to pay while you’re out of work — costs your lawyer can calculate for you. Negotiating for a higher payout is usually your best option if the insurer’s initial offer won’t cover all your costs, and your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company for you.
How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?
If you don’t settle, workers’ comp will typically offer weekly payments of up to two-thirds (66.67%) of the average wages you earned before your injury. Exact pay rates do vary by state, so check how much workers’ comp pays in your state to get a more accurate estimate for your knee injury.
You’ll generally receive payments until you return to work, reach MMI, or settle with the insurance company. If you reach MMI but still can't return to work, your doctor will assign you a permanent impairment rating. Your rating will range up to 100 with higher ratings resulting in higher or longer permanent disability payments.
Workers’ comp does also pay for any medical treatment you need to help you reach MMI. The insurance company typically pays your doctors or medical providers directly.
Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
You don’t need a lawyer to file for workers’ comp, but a lawyer can make a big difference if your employer or their insurance company wants you to take a settlement. A lawyer will know how much you should get based on your specific knee injury and the area where you live. They’ll also negotiate the settlement deal for you, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with the insurance company or its legal team.
While the average workers’ comp settlement for a knee injury is about $35,000 nationally, you could get much more or less depending on your situation. If you want to maximize your settlement, contact an Atticus workers’ comp attorney. Settlements with our attorneys are twice as high as claims without an attorney, on average.
Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?
It depends on your personal situation. Negotiating is best in many cases, but we recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision. They can help you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other bills while you’re out of work.
Will knee surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?
It depends. Knee surgery could increase your potential settlement if it doesn’t lead to a recovery or if you have complications. But it could decrease your potential settlement if it greatly improves your symptoms or recovery time. Get a more detailed answer in our guide to when surgery increases workers’ comp settlements.
Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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