How to Get Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive, Cumulative Injuries
Imagine that you are working in a job where you perform the same type of physical movement many times a day. At first, your job may not seem stressful but, over time, the repeated motion starts to cause you pain, and wear and tear. Can you recover workers’ compensation benefits for an injury(ies) that is/are caused by repeated, cumulative movements?
It is no medical secret that if you performed, essentially, the same movements every day, that there is a high likelihood that you may begin to experience pain, even if you were not moving or lifting anything heavy. Imagine, for example, a supermarket cashier who repeatedly swipes items across the scanner, or a construction worker who repeatedly hammers. Over time, they may experience pain in their hands or arms that may seem to be merely minor, nagging injuries, but these injuries can become very serious injuries to muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
Workers’ compensation benefits are afforded to workers who have been injured over time due to repetitive movements. To recover lost wages of time is lost from work or medical benefits paid by the workers’ compensation carrier, the injured worker must prove:
- That there has been an extended exposure to repetitive movements;
- The cumulative effect of which is injury or an exacerbation of a pre-existing injury; and
- That the hazard that caused the injury is greater than the hazards that the general public is exposed to. In other words, the worker must show that the repeated, repetitive nature of his or her work, is more repetitive than what would be experienced in everyday life by anyone else not working in the same field.
Additionally, the injured worker must prove the above by “clear and convincing evidence”—a tougher and more stringent burden than the typical “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is common in most civil cases.
Experts and Proof Problems
Although many kinds of experts would be qualified to show that performing a particular action or movement over and over again could cause injury, only a physician can testify as to medical causation.
Unfortunately, sometimes injured workers present to his/her doctor and discuss his/her pain without relating it to work because he/she does not put two-and-two together. An absence of this information in medical records can be damaging to a workers’ compensation case, and may confuse your doctor from being able to offer an opinion on medical causation.
Contact our West Palm Beach workers’ compensation attorneys at the Celeste Law Firm today for answers to your questions if you have been injured on the job.