When you have an accident in the line of duty, it is often easy to prove you were injured as a result of the accident. In the best case, the accident was witnessed by one or more people. But what happens when your body begins to exhibit signs of injury simply because you do the same job over and over each day? These injuries are called repetitive trauma injury, and are more common than people think. If you have this type of injury, you can be covered under workers' compensation. Here is some information to help you with your claim.
What Is Repetitive Trauma Injury?
Repetitive trauma injuries are often also called repetitive motion injuries, cumulative trauma disorder, repetitive stress disorder, or repetitive strain injuries. This class of injury is one of the most common injuries seen in the workforce. It can be experienced by anyone and everyone who does the same type of task day-in and day-out. Common names of these types of injuries are:
- Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome
- De Quervain Syndrome
- Golfer's Elbow
- Tennis Elbow
- Trigger Finger, and more
No matter what it is called, it is caused by repetitive motions, forceful exertions, awkward positioning, mechanical compression, and sometimes simple overuse of a group of muscles. Not only will it create a new injury, but this type of injury can aggravate, or cause a flair up, of symptoms you may have experienced due to a past injury.
Repetitive injuries are often difficult to prove, difficult to treat, and, therefore, difficult to have covered under workers compensation. Although they are difficult to have covered, it is not impossible to do so.
Six Steps To Take To Better Position Yourself In Proving Your Repetitive Injury Claim
Step #1 - Document your injury as soon as you think it may be a result of the repetitive nature of the type of work you do. Although you may be tempted to take a couple of aspirin, put on an over-the-counter brace, and continue to work, your injury will not be recognized until it has been diagnosed by a physician.
Ask to file the appropriate accident and injury paperwork with your company. They may require you to see their company doctor, but always remember you can see your physician, although initially it may be at your expense. Once you see a physician, follow the recommendations they give you.
Step #2 - Document in writing the type of work you do, and the environment under which it is done. Remember, pictures speak louder than words, especially if you have to present your case to a judge. Depending on your environment, pictures may be difficult to obtain. Do not violate company policy in an attempt to collect the pictures. A violation of the policy may make the pictures inadmissible in a court of law.
Step #3 - Created a list of trusted co-workers who have knowledge of the type of work you do. You may need them later to testify about what they know.
Step #4 - Ask for an evaluation of your work environment from your company's safety officer. Most major companies have someone in this type of position. They are trained to not only examine your environment for potential safety risks, but to make recommendations to the company about how to reduce or avoid these type of injuries.
Step #5 - Always keep documentation of who you spoke to pertaining your injury. Make sure you note the time, as well as the date, and what was said in the conversation. You may need this information to not only show the onset of your injury, but that you were within compliance by filing within a specific time frame.
Step #6 - Hire an experienced and knowledgeable workers compensation attorney to help you with your claim. As stated above, these types of cases can often be difficult to prove. Employers will attempt to reduce the amount of compensation paid to you by claiming the injury was not a result of your employment. A knowledgeable workers compensation attorney will know how to argue that it is.
Repetitive trauma injuries are more common than you think, and it is possible to get workers compensation for them. For help with your case, contact a workers comp attorney in your area.