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Workers’ Compensation Settlements For Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that affects about one-fifth of all Americans. The effects of arthritis on workers make it one of the leading causes for workers’ compensation benefits claims in Arizona and every other state. Every year, workers’ compensation insurance companies pay out hundreds of billions of dollars in settlements for arthritis claims.

Unfortunately, there is no average arthritis workers’ comp settlement claim information as each case can vary widely in its circumstances and severity. 

However, understanding how an arthritis condition affects your ability to work and what you can do about it in terms of Arizona workers’ compensation is one way our attorneys at the Matt Fendon Law Group can help you.

To learn more, call us at (800) 229-3880 to speak with an Arizona workers’ compensation compensation attorney. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.

What is Arthritis?

what is arthritis

Medically speaking, arthritis is the term that describes inflammation that can lead to joint pain and stiffness. You might suffer from one of more than 100 kinds of arthritis. Among the types of inflammatory arthritis we see most often are:

  • Osteoarthritis: a degenerative disease affecting the cartilage between your bones.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: in which your immune system affects joints as well as other body organs.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: arthritis that is paired with psoriasis, affecting the skin, fingernails, and joints.
  • Fibromyalgia: a muscle and skeletal condition that affects how your brain responds to pain sensations.
  • Gout: the product of crystalized uric acid from your bloodstream, often affecting the feet.
  • Lupus: in its systemic form, an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis that affects joints as well as other parts of your body.

Symptoms of Arthritis

You can develop arthritis symptoms gradually, or they may flare up suddenly. Either way, you can experience the effects of arthritis in difficulty doing daily tasks and daily activities, including being able to work.

The effects you feel from arthritis are joint stiffness, joint swelling, and joint pain around a joint like an elbow, wrist, knee, hip, or shoulder. Redness of the skin around the affected joint is also common. The joint pain and stiffness can also restrict your joint range of motion, which is a frequent way that arthritis interferes with employment duties.

Distinguish Arthritis From Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is not a disease as such but rather a medical condition that results from the degradation of the spinal discs that separate the vertebrae bones in your spine. Degenerative disc disease can result from injuries, including slipped discs, herniated discs, torn discs, and ruptured discs.

People who suffer from degenerative disc disease can experience chronic pain, but usually, the pain is associated with the underlying injury.

Work-Related Contributors to Arthritis

What you do at work may not by itself cause an arthritic condition to begin. Many workers’ compensation benefit claims for arthritis come from the worsening of a pre-existing arthritis or degenerative disc condition (“pre-existing” meaning that the condition predates the aggravating condition at your current employment).

Often, a workers’ compensation claim for arthritis arises from job duties that make you more susceptible to developing the condition. Here are some of the common kinds of work activities that can increase your risk of arthritis.

Jobs that require repetitive motions

In the same way that some jobs, like clerical data entry, sewing, and assembly line work can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome nerve inflammation, work that requires you to repeat the same motions over a long period can lead to overworking and even injury to your joints.

Jobs that require heavy lifting

The stress of picking up and moving heavy objects can put significant stress on your joints, to the point where they become more susceptible to becoming arthritic.

Jobs that are sedentary

Although it may sound counter-intuitive, especially compared to repetitive motions and heavy lifting, work that requires you to remain seated in the same position for hours at a time can contribute to the onset or worsening of arthritis. When you consider that many of these jobs also involve repetitive motions, like keyboarding, sedentary jobs can put you at increased arthritis risk.

Occupations More Likely to Make Arthritis Worse

occupations more likely to make arthritis worse

Now that we understand how work activities can increase your chance of developing arthritis or making an existing arthritis condition worse, here are some jobs and professions that are more likely to put you at risk:

  • Working in the construction industry
  • Dancing
  • Warehouse workers
  • Working in the timber industry
  • Assembly line work and other manual labor jobs
  • Operating trucks and heavy machinery

Qualifying For Arthritis Workers’ Comp Disability Benefits

If you suffer from an aggravated arthritis condition, then Arizona workers’ compensation benefits are available to you.

To prove eligibility for workers’ comp benefits, you must notify your employer of your condition. Once you have done this, you must be able to show medical evidence from your doctor that your worsening arthritis is the result of an event at work like an accident, or working conditions that over time led to aggravation of your arthritis symptoms.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Your original arthritis condition does not need to be work-related.
  • It does not matter whether your original arthritis or degenerative disc condition was one that makes you more susceptible to aggravation in the future.
  • If you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits because of an aggravated arthritis condition, the benefits you will receive will be tied to the aggravation only. Meaning, you will not be compensated for the pre-existing arthritis condition.

In addition to drawing a connection between the arthritis and your work, you will also need to show that the arthritis affects your ability to continue to work in your assigned role.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Causing You Arthritis?

Under the Arizona workers’ compensation system, with few exceptions, workers’ compensation is your sole remedy if you develop arthritis at work or if your employment makes an existing arthritic condition worse. This means that as a general rule, you cannot sue your employer for work-related arthritis.

The exceptions to this general rule are for workplace injuries or conditions that result from purposeful behavior on the part of your employer. These kinds of lawsuits can be very difficult to prove: in effect, you would need to convince an Arizona court that your employer structured your work responsibilities intending to give you arthritis or worsen it.

What Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can You Get For Arthritis?

If your arthritis condition has a work connection, then you may be eligible for the following Arizona workers’ compensation benefits for disabling conditions:

  • Medical expenses reimbursement. This includes costs for medical treatment, pain management, physical therapy, and if necessary surgery.
  • Lost wages. If you cannot work because of your arthritis condition, or you must do light duty or work at a different job with less pay, then workers’ compensation can make up for some of your lost earnings.
  • Disability. In the worst cases, an arthritis condition can lead to a disability outcome in which you can no longer work, perhaps permanently. If this happens, you may be able to receive benefits for partial or total disability payments.

Talk to a Phoenix Workers’ Comp Lawyer if a Workplace Injury Has Aggravated Your Arthritis

Employers and their insurance companies are not always cooperative when you have an arthritis condition made worse by your job. The insurance company in particular may want to reduce or even deny your claim. Because of this, having an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney on your side can make the difference between a claim approval or denial, for approved claims in getting the maximum fair settlement you deserve, and winning a favorable outcome in any appeals process.

Helping You With Your Arthritis Workers’ Comp Claim or Appeal

Making a workers’ compensation claim in Arizona can be challenging if you do not already know how the state’s workers’ compensation system works. A Matt Fendon Law Group lawyer can help you collect medical evidence, medical bills, and other records to prepare your initial claim or to appeal a claim denial to an administrative law judge.

Call us today at (800) 229-3880 to arrange for a free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation claim specialists. Or if you prefer, you can contact us online to do the same.

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