Most jobs have at least some repetitive tasks. You probably do them over and over again without thinking about it. Then, slowly, over time, something feels off. Then you wonder: What happens when repetitive motion causes injury?
Although a repetitive motion injury develops over time, it can be serious. The victim may not be able to work. They may need medical care.
If you have suffered a repetitive motion injury because of work, you may wonder if your case qualifies for workers compensation. In many cases, the answer is yes.
Can you get workers compensation for repetitive motion injuries in California?
California law allows injured workers to get workers compensation for repetitive motion injuries. No matter how long it takes for the injury to develop, if it is the result of work, the victim may make a claim.
There are added challenges when a claim involves repetitive motion injury. The victim must show how the medical cause of the injury is work. An injured worker may have representation from a workers compensation lawyer throughout the claims process.
What is a repetitive motion injury in the California workers compensation?
In the California workers compensation system, a repetitive motion injury is called cumulative trauma. While a specific injury occurs in a single event, cumulative trauma happens over weeks, months or even years.
(Cal. Lab. Code § 3208.1(b) defines cumulative trauma as an injury because of repetitive demanding activity.)
What kinds of repetitive tasks at work can cause injury?
A variety of repetitive tasks at work can cause injury, including:
- Gripping tools
- Carpentry and bricklaying
- Lifting overhead
Are repetitive motion injuries workers compensation?
Repetitive motion injuries qualify for workers compensation. An injured worker may claim benefits under the law when the cumulative effects of their injuries result in lost wages or the need for medical care. (Western Growers Ins. Co. v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd., 16 Cal.App.4th 227(1993).)
What causes repetitive motion injuries at work?
Repetitive motion injuries at work may result from:
- Lack of protective equipment
- Poor training
- Inadequate rest between tasks and shifts
- Workplace design, including tools, equipment and structures that do not work well with the body and require poor posture
- Operating too fast; pressure on employees to work quickly rather than safely
- Failing to sufficiently rotate tasks
- Refusing to allow a worker to stop at signs of distress; working while fatigued
How do you get workers compensation from a repetitive motion injury?
To get workers compensation from a repetitive motion injury, you must make a report and file a claim. If you are still working, notify your employer in writing as soon as possible. Your employer should give you a claim form. Complete the employee section of the form and give it to your employer.
How do you file for cumulative trauma if you are no longer working for the employer?
A significant number of repetitive motion workers compensation claims are filed post-employment. While on the job, you may tell your supervisor or send an email – but it’s not that easy with a former employer. You can begin by completing Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC 1). Keep a copy for yourself and give the rest to the employer. If you send it to the employer, send it certified mail so that you have a record of delivery.
Once the employer has your claim form, they complete their portion of and send it the insurance company. The insurance company has 14 days to update you on the status of your claim.
What is the time limit for California workers compensation for repetitive motion injury?
An employee has one year to file a California workers’ compensation claim starting from the time that they learn that they have a repetitive motion injury and that it is work related.
California Labor Code § 5405 gives a worker one year to file their workers’ compensation claim. When an injury occurs in one event – a specific injury, the person has one year from the date the injury occurs. But when the injury occurs over a period of time, the one-year limit begins when they know that they have an injury, and when they know – or should know – that their injury is work related.
What are some examples of repetitive motion injuries?
Repetitive motion injuries may include:
- Carpal tunnel
- Rotator cuff pain and tears
- Degenerative conditions
- Chronic pain
- Pain during activity
- Chronic swelling, throbbing and cramping
- Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
What are the challenges in claiming workers compensation for repetitive motion injuries?
If you’re a worker who is hurt because of a repetitive motion injury, medical documentation of your injury is particularly important. For a couple of reasons, the employer may be more likely to contest your right to compensation than they would be for a sudden injury. Repetitive motion injuries often require long-term care. You may need significant medical intervention and rest from work. The employer may question the cause of your injuries simply because they do not want to pay these costs.
Second, the employer may be more likely to contest the right to compensation because of the time frame. You must prove that work caused your injury. Having thorough medical documentation that addresses any room for doubt is important. You must be prepared to defend what medical care you need and how the injury impacts your ability to work.
Lawyer for Repetitive Motion Injury Workers Compensation
An experienced workers compensation lawyer can help make your repetitive motion injury claim a successful one. They have experience in the claims process and in gathering the medical documentation that you need.
Time deadlines apply, and you must take steps to assert your rights. Our lawyers help people just like you. Whether your case is simple or complex, you deserve the compensation that you’re entitled to.
Don’t wait to contact us. Let us review your claim and help you understand your right to compensation. See how we can help you get the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today.