Slip and fall accidents in the workplace are one of the most common types of injury that the workers face on daily basis. This can be either due to a risky working environment or repetitive movements that cause accidents. Common types of injury that the worker’s sustain are orthopedic injuries. It includes- injury to your hips, arms, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, and hands. Remember that arms, hips, foot, wrist, ankle are essential parts of our body that helps in our daily life activities. These injuries can not only hamper your daily lifestyle but can also make it difficult to work! In such cases, the persons who sustained such injuries can bring a worker’s compensation claim. The burden of dealing with physical pain and discomfort can bring lots of stress. Moreover, you have medical expenses to bear! It is in this context that an orthopedic expert witness plays an integral role.
However, it is important to note here that you can make claims for slip and fall accidents only when the case is a serious one! For example, a sprained ankle cannot be considered serious enough to bring a claim but an injured hip or broken knee is quite serious and requires medical attention! To prove that there has been orthopedic injury at the worksite, the attorney will retain an expert witness for the case. Their main role of these witnesses in slip and fall accidents are as follows:
- To determine if the injury was work-related
- Calculating the gravity of the injury sustained
- Determining if the patient can recover. If yes, how much will they recover- completely or partially?
- Expected time that’ll be needed for recovery
Basically, an orthopedic surgeon is retained to function as a medical expert in this regard. Before discussing the role of the witnesses in detail, it’s important to know what worker’s compensation is.
Workers’ Compensation: Things to know
Workers’ compensation is a monetary benefit that workers get as compensation for disabilities or damages sustained as a result of their employment. The employers pay these cash benefits for both financial and medical purposes. In this context, you need to understand a few essential things:
- When a worker accepts worker’s compensation, it means the employee relinquishes the right to bring a lawsuit against the employer.
- Compensation packages mostly include the medical expenses related to the injury caused as a direct result of employment.
- Disability insurance or unemployment benefits are not similar to workers’ compensation.
Now that you know what workers’ compensation is, it is important to know how an orthopedic surgery expert witness can help in this.
What information should the orthopedic surgeon provide to win a worker’s compensation claim?
To increase the compensation value or to win a case, it is important to seek help from a medical expert. For orthopedic injuries, it’ll be an orthopedic surgeon, especially a certified surgeon who offers expert witness in slip and fall accidents! The expert witness will prepare a comprehensive and unbiased report discussing the following points.
- Nature of orthopedic injury– First thing that the orthopedic surgeon should do is to understand the kind of surgery that you’ve sustained.
- Causation– It’s quite obvious and you’re quite sure that the injuries that you’ve sustained are a result of workplace accidents- slip and fall. However, the insurance companies will try to prove that injuries or the symptoms that you’re facing are due to a preexisting condition or due to other general orthopedic problems like arthritis or degenerative disc disease. So a medical expert witness should mention in writing that the injuries caused to the person are a direct result of the workplace accident. Or it needs to be affirmed that it is because of the workplace accident that has worsened the preexisting condition.
- Medical necessity of treatment– Do you know why an expert witness is so important in slip and fall accidents? Insurance companies try to assert that the money received for medical expenses was not completely needed by the claimant and therefore, they are not responsible for the payment! Such arguments, though rare are put forward especially if the orthopedic surgeon recommends palliative care or conservative treatment.
- Ability to work– To get compensation benefits for total or partial disability, you’ll need an orthopedic surgeon expert witness to prepare a report based on your physical abilities. It means that it should be clearly stated that because of your disabilities, you couldn’t do your work duties or in the future, you might not be able to carry out your work duties. This is known as the ‘work status’ note that the orthopedic surgeon should provide. Though such kind of notes isn’t required for slip and fall accidents, it’s good to be on the safe side! This note should explain the difficulties that you’re facing.
- Anticipated future expenses– For a fair settlement of the claims, it is important to mention the future medical expenses that’ll be required. Your orthopedic expert should write a detailed report on what medical expenses will be required for your injuries in the coming few years.
- Impact on life and working ability– Another essential thing that requires a special mention is the problems that you’re facing while performing physical actions like carrying, walking, sitting, lifting, pushing, handling, bending, kneeling, and other motions due to disability.
If you’ve sustained orthopedic injuries because of a slip and fall accident in your workplace, then you should immediately get in touch with an attorney. Make sure that you choose the best one. These attorneys have connections with orthopedic surgeons who provide medico-legal guidance in such cases. With a strong attorney and a certified orthopedic surgeon expert, you can not only win the case but also settle with the highest amount of compensation. Orthopedic injuries can restrict your life in different ways and therefore, you shouldn’t delay at all! Try to seek professional help as soon as you discover your injuries.