Worker’s Compensation For Progressive Injuries

Have you been diagnosed with a progressive condition that is certainly linked to your job but you have been denied a worker’s compensation claim? Many injuries or conditions such as hearing loss, rotator cuff injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome can be linked to the workplace. However, because of their progressive nature, by the time they reach the point of debilitation, requiring medical treatment, much time may have passed. A workplace’s human resource department may deny a worker’s compensation claim because an employee is unable to pinpoint an exact day for when an injury occurred. In the case of progressive conditions, an injury could have been developing for months. The good news is that many worker’s compensation claims for progressive conditions that were created by workplace conditions have successfully been approved.

Understanding Progressive Conditions

It is important to understand the correct terminology. A repetitive stress injury is related to repetitive movement on the job. In general, there are two types of injury. One creates a condition that is chronic. Another is an injury that is traumatic but will heal with proper treatment, although there may be the possibility of permanent disability such as a more limited range of motion or weakness.

Repetitive Motion Injury:  Data entry clerks, assembly line workers, grocery check-out clerks are just a few examples of jobs that can cause a repetitive stress injury like carpal tunnel syndrome that is chronic.

Cumulative Trauma Injury: Mechanics, truck drivers, warehouse stockers are examples of jobs where a cumulative trauma injury can occur such as a muscle tear of the rotator cuff. These injuries are generally treatable but can result in a limb that heals but has a permanent, noted weakness or limitation.

Liability Of Worker’s Compensation

In a perfect world worker’s compensation covers expenses for lost wages and medical bills related to the injury or condition experienced on the job. If an employee is able to return to work but requires ongoing treatment, worker’s compensation is also responsible for paying for that as well. Even if the employee is at fault for the injury, if it was received while on the job, worker’s compensation is liable for covering these expenses.

Determining Liability

The critical factor for determining that an employer is liable for worker’s compensation with regard to an injury or condition, is establishing that the workplace was where it occurred. This is the tickler for employees who are dealing with repetitive stress injuries. Because the injury or condition developed over a period of time, it is difficult to lay a finger on a specific calendar date and say, “There! That’s the day it happened!” In conditions and injuries that are progressive in nature, a causal connection must be made between the employee’s work activity and the type of disability they have received. Medical testimony from a medical doctor is the strongest evidence to support a causal connection. A doctor’s opinion must be clear, containing no vague language that is open to interpretation.

Time Restrictions

Worker’s compensation claims must be made within specific time windows. Because of the nature of repetitive stress injuries being created over time, the initial onset of trouble could have begun weeks, or even months, prior to a worker recognizing there was a serious problem and finally seeks out medical advice. Perhaps they have been performing self-care for a few weeks, believing that they only had a minor injury that would soon heal. It is not uncommon in repetitive stress injuries for workers to believe they have simply run out of time for filing a worker’s compensation claim.

Seek Professional Guidance

Just as a person seeks out professional medical advice for their physical condition, it is appropriate to seek out professional legal advice for a worker’s compensation claim. Even if a worker feels confident that their claim will be successful, common mistakes can result in disaster. Legal terminology may be confusing to some. Documentation and  required actions can become a complicated labyrinth. Protect your rights and interests. Please contact us to partner with a legal team who is dedicated to being a strong advocate for injured workers.