Workers who do the same tasks over and over again are at risk for cumulative trauma workplace injuries. While these injuries do qualify many employees for workers’ compensation benefits, it can be challenging to actually receive the benefits from the insurance companies.
What Is a Cumulative Trauma Injury?
A cumulative trauma injury builds over time. The injury gradually gets worse and worse, causing the employee symptoms such as pain, stiffness, or instability. Some cumulative trauma injuries include:
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- Upper or lower back disc herniation
- Breathing or lung problems
Cumulative trauma injuries are different from specific injuries, because specific injuries happen at a specific point in time. For example, someone feels a sharp pain in his back while lifting a box – a specific injury. In contrast, someone else could have no trouble lifting boxes for 10 years at work, but over time starts to feel pain in his back. He goes to the doctor and is diagnosed with a disc herniation. This is a cumulative injury.
Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for Cumulative Injuries?
Employees with cumulative injuries can receive workers’ compensation as long as they were truly injured in the course of and arising from their employment. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that the injury happened at work.
In the case of the employee with disc herniation described above, the insurance company has several arguments to deny benefits. It can say that the employee’s back problems happened because of personal activities, such as weightlifting at the gym or carrying his children. It also can say that the employee would have herniated a disc no matter what tasks he performed at work – that he had a predisposition for injury. Finally, the insurance company can argue that the employee did not report the injury in a timely fashion (since it occurred over many years).
Winning a cumulative trauma case for workers’ compensation benefits could be challenging even in the most obvious of cases. Workers seeking benefits for this kind of injury may want legal assistance. A Minnesota workers’ compensation attorney can review your case and advise on its strengths and weaknesses.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.