When many people think of workers’ compensation claim, they often think of a significant, one-time accident such as a traumatic brain injury or a severed limb. To their surprise, many claims for workers’ comp benefits are approved in cases involving injuries which develop gradually as part of an employee’s day-to-day job duties.
Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), also known as repetitive motion injuries, are caused when overuse or repetitive motions puts a strain on specific muscles, tendons, bones, resulting in pain or injury. Common repetitive motion injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, trigger finger, rotator cuff syndrome, tennis elbow, lower back pain, hearing loss, and more.
The following are common symptoms of RSI:
- Loss of strength or coordination
- Reduced range of motion or flexibility
Most RSIs are experienced by employees working with computers since many jobs regularly require using a keyboard, mouse, and/or touchscreen. However, RSIs can also develop from jobs tasks that require repeated micro-movements, such as constant lifting, carrying, holding awkward positions, or using vibrating equipment.
In order to obtain workers’ comp benefits for an RSI, you must prove that your injury is work-related, meaning that it was caused by your job duties or the conditions of your workplace, or aggravated by your work. Since this type of injury takes time to develop, it is typically more difficult to show that an injury is work-related.
Keep in mind, you cannot get workers’ compensation for an RSI you got from a previous job. However, you can get workers’ comp benefits if your current job aggravated a prior injury.
If the causal connection between the injury and your work activity isn’t obvious, then you must show the connection by testimony from a doctor indicating that the injury was caused by your work. Ultimately, a judge decides if the medical testimony presented demonstrates an unequivocal link between the injury and work.
When an RSI becomes apparent, notify your employer immediately and seek both medical treatment and legal advice. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure your rights and best interests are protected at all times throughout the process.