Typically, if you hear the term “work injury,” images of falling objects, heavy machinery, and other industrial workplace hazards come to mind. However, the simple act of performing the same labor every day can result in an injury, even if you work in a relatively harmless space like an office. Repetitive stress injuries—also called repetitive motion, repetitive strain, and cumulative trauma—can be as painful and debilitating as more severe injuries.
However, they are often harder to prove in a workers’ compensation claim. It can be done, but you need to be able to provide the right evidence, especially in cases where your employer or their insurance company tries to deny you coverage.
The main challenge in securing compensation for a repetitive stress injury is proving it was work-related. This means showing one of the following:
- Your injury was directly caused by performing your work duties
- Your duties at work aggravated a preexisting injury
Paying close attention to the timeframes involved as your injury develops will help you make a sound claim for it in the event of a dispute. For instance, if your wrists begin aching a couple of months after beginning a transcriptionist job, you can make a solid case for work-related carpal tunnel.
Gathering Evidence—Leave No Pain Unexamined
Since they occur so gradually, you may not notice a repetitive trauma injury until it has already become well-established. This can make it difficult to accurately prove your injury was work-related, especially since it can be easy to dismiss aches and pains that at first seem random.
If you experience any pain that you can’t explain, it can be beneficial in the long run to look into it, even if it doesn’t seem severe at first. Under Illinois law, you must notify your employer within 45 days of discovering an injury to receive workers’ comp benefits, so if you wait until the pain becomes unbearable, it may be too late.
Consult Your Doctor
Consulting with a doctor to determine the exact nature of your injury can back up your claim. When meeting with your doctor, be sure to provide the following information:
- The duties you fulfill at your place of employment
- The length of time you have been currently working at your current job
- What types of symptoms you are experiencing—include everything, even if it seems minor
- When symptoms started to appear
This will help your doctor diagnose both the problem and its cause, and a written statement from him or her will stand as a solid piece of evidence that your repetitive trauma injury occurred in the course of fulfilling work-related duties.
Consult Your Lawyer
Ultimately, in the event of a dispute regarding whether your repetitive strain injury qualifies you for workers’ compensation, contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney. They will guide you through the steps you need to follow to receive what you’re owed, and their representation will add extra weight to your claim. Hart David Carson, LLP, can provide you with the legal representation you need when making a workers’ compensation claim.