Cumulative Trauma and Obtaining Worker’s Comp Benefits
If you work in a physically demanding job, such as construction, factory work, nursing, or any other occupation that requires strength and stamina, the repetitive stress of your work over time can leave you with a cumulative trauma disorder, also known as repetitive strain injury. Even jobs that seem less physical can cause cumulative trauma.
Fortunately, the Kentucky workers’ compensation system can cover your medical treatment and a percentage of your lost wages when repetitive stress and strain from your duties leaves you unable to work. But this is about more than financial compensation. It’s about maintaining the lifestyle you earned through all your hard work.
At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, we help many workers with repetitive strain injuries. They are very common injuries. According to the United States Bureau of Labor, cumulative trauma injuries cost employers approximately $2 billion each year in workers’ compensation claims. These injuries account for the greatest number of days missed from work, with around 18 days of work missed for each injury.
Cumulative trauma injuries generally grow worse over time. If left untreated, they may even cause permanent damage.
Whether you’ve been working with a jackhammer or other heavy tools on construction sites, or if you’ve been repeating strenuous tasks in a factory or coal mine, or even typing on a computer in an office for long periods, you may be suffering from cumulative trauma. Our law firm is a leader in cumulative trauma workers’ compensation claims in Kentucky. In fact, our senior partner McKinnley Morgan helped get these types of cases taken seriously by the legal system in the first place.
If you’re suffering from cumulative trauma and need workers’ comp benefits, we are ready to help. Call us now to schedule a free initial consultation.
What Is Cumulative Trauma?
A cumulative trauma injury happens you repeat a motion over and over, slowing causing damage to your body over months or sometimes years.
Common cumulative trauma issues include neck and back problems, joint replacements, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, and shoulder surgeries. You can develop many other impairments from long-time exposure to hazardous conditions at work, including hearing loss and black lung disease.
Cumulative trauma is even included as part of the definition of a workplace injury in Kentucky’s workers’ comp law: “Injury is defined as any work-related traumatic event or series of events, including cumulative trauma, arising out of and in the course of employment.”
Do I Have a Cumulative Trauma Claim?
Working in many jobs – from construction to health care – can take a toll on your health over time. If you have experienced a cumulative trauma disorder from repetitive, strenuous tasks at your work, then you may have a valid cumulative trauma claim. You could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that will protect you financially.
Don’t hesitate to seek maximum workers’ compensation benefits for your injury just because you can’t connect it to one particular accident or one particular day.
How to Prove Your Cumulative Trauma Case
Even when you know your pain was caused by your job, employers and workers’ comp insurance companies often want to save their money by fighting your claim. If they deny your workers’ comp claim, you’ll need Kentucky Courage and strong evidence to fight back.
Follow these strategies to build a successful claim:
- Tell your employer right away. Report that you were hurt because of your work as soon as possible.
- Medical evidence. Submit medical evidence from doctors who have treated your condition.
- Prompt action. A recent change in state law gives you two years from the time your doctor determined your injury was work-related to file your claim. Don’t wait. It’s always best to start your claim quickly once you realize your job has injured you.
- Hire an experienced lawyer. A skilled attorney knows how to prove the key fact that your injury was caused by your job.
The key to winning benefits is proving that your cumulative trauma injury resulted from your work. The lawyers at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer know the system and how to prove your case.
Common Causes of Cumulative Trauma
Repetitive strain injuries occur from overusing a muscle or from doing a task over and over again, causing strain to tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues. Many jobs require workers to do tasks that increase their odds of suffering cumulative stress trauma.
For example, workers may suffer repetitive stress injuries if they:
- Lift heavy loads frequently
- Fail to use ergonomic equipment
- Use machinery that shakes
- Maintain a stationary position for long periods
- Use defective or poorly designed tools and equipment
- Use unnatural angles to lift objects
Types of Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Some common types of cumulative trauma injuries include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Among the most common types of cumulative trauma stress injuries, carpal tunnel consists of swelling of the structures in the wrist, causing pressure on the median nerve. Symptoms include pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand and arm.
- Bursitis. If you overuse a joint on the job, a nearby bursa can get inflamed. The sac fills with extra fluid, which puts pressure on nearby tissue. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the area.
- Tendonitis. Inflammation or irritation in the tendon, which attaches muscle to bone.
- Trigger finger. This condition causes pain, stiffness, and a feeling of locking when you bend and straighten your finger. The ring finger and thumb are most likely to be affected.
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome. This condition occurs when the ulnar nerve, one of the main nerves to the hand, is compressed at the wrist. Symptoms include weakness, numbness, tingling or pain due to the nerve compression
- Nerve entrapment disorders. These disorders of the nerves are characterized by pain or loss of function of the nerves as a result of chronic compression.
- Spinal injuries. Most back injuries in the workplace are caused by long-term wear and tear on the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and discs in the spine. Pulling, reaching, twisting, and bending can weaken and stress the structures of the spine over time, increasing the risk of injury.
How Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help You
If you have suffered cumulative trauma on the job in Kentucky, you may not know where to turn and what to do. Because the Kentucky workers’ compensation system is so complicated, it can be difficult understand what your rights are and how to protect them.
At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, our Kentucky workers’ comp attorneys have the Kentucky Courage needed to guide you through all of your options and help you to pursue the appropriate type of workers’ comp claim. Our lawyers are well-versed in appealing denied claims, and we will work with employers and insurance companies to seek the maximum compensation and benefits you deserve.
Call us now to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.