Repetitive Trauma Claims
A person who gets hurt at work as a result of a specific incident — moving a box, slipping on a floor, falling off a ladder — is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the injury renders the person unable to do his or her job. But what if somebody cannot work due to an injury caused by the day-in-and-day-out physical demands of the job? Examples are an administrative assistant who develops hand and wrist pain from typing and using a mouse all day; a construction worker who experiences shoulder discomfort from regularly swinging a sledgehammer; and a certified nursing assistant, who frequently is required to move patients, that experiences low back and leg symptoms.
In workers’ compensation lingo, these are called “repetitive trauma” claims because the person’s work duties on a repetitive basis, as opposed to one discrete incident, caused the trauma to the body.
If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend that you advise your employer as soon as you feel symptoms — even if the pain is not preventing you from doing your job. Your employer may refer you to a doctor on its workers’ compensation panel for an evaluation. If you se a panel doctor, or if you go to a doctor on your own, it’s important that you describe in as much detail as possible when and how your pain developed. You should specify what aspects of your job you think brought on the pain, and indicate to what extent this pain is impeding your ability to do your job.
Employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies are usually reluctant to accept repetitive trauma claims, so it’s vital that you tell your employer and doctor about your complaints from the beginning: if your pain and ability to function worsen to the point that you can no longer do your job, the determination by the insurance company as to whether or not to accept your claim — or the workers’ compensation judge if your claim is denied — will likely hinge on what you have reported to your employer, and more critically, the opinions of the doctors who have evaluated you. A doctor must hold the opinion that your job duties, on a repetitive basis, caused your injuries that have prevented you from working.
Don’t be surprised if a doctor for the insurance company is of the opinion that your condition is caused, not by your work duties, but by some underlying condition such as arthritis or diabetes. An insurance company doctor may also conclude that your condition is caused by activities outside of your job — household work, taking care of your children — or some hobby or athletic endeavor, such as crocheting, running, or tennis.
While it is not prudent to pursue any workers’ ‘compensation claim without an experienced lawyer on your side, it’s especially risky to pursue a repetitive trauma claim by yourself. So if you believe that the daily grind of your job is causing you pain and limitations, you may have a viable repetitive trauma claim and should consult with one of the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law. Each lawyer in the firm has handled countless repetitive trauma claims over the years and can discuss with you the intricacies of your case and whether you have a claim worth pursuing.
Call Pearson Koutcher Law to Discuss Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Let us put our decades of experience to work for you, helping you navigate the complexities of the Workers’ Compensation laws.
Pearson Koutcher Law
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Bethlehem Office serving the Lehigh Valley
528 Maple Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18018