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Can You File for Workers’ Compensation for an Injury That Developed Over Time?

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Missouri has a workers’ compensation system in place through which employees who suffer workplace injuries or develop occupational diseases can obtain benefits. While most people understand that workers’ compensation might pay benefits for on-the-job injuries from sudden accidents, including falls, equipment accidents, and other similar events, many employees are unsure whether benefits might be available for other types of work-related injuries, including an injury that developed over time. Scroll down to learn more about the availability of workers’ compensation for cumulative trauma injuries.

Workers’ Compensation for an Injury that Developed Over Time

Workers’ comp might also cover an injury that developed over time in Missouri just like those that occur because of sudden accidents. However, it can be harder to prove that a gradual injury was caused because of an employee’s work conditions. Before you can recover workers’ compensation benefits for a gradual injury, you’ll have to present evidence showing that it was caused by your work and not something else. A gradual injury that occurs because of the aging process or from something that occurred outside of your job will not be covered by workers’ compensation.

Some injuries develop because of repetitive motions and are called repetitive stress injuries. These types of injuries are fairly common in the workplace for jobs that require workers to engage in the same types of motion repeatedly to perform the tasks of their jobs. Other injuries might also develop because of ongoing exposure to loud noises, leading to hearing loss, exposure to chemical substances in the workplace, and more. A Workers’ Compensation Injury Rating Board of California report found that cumulative trauma injuries accounted for 8 percent of filed claims.

Understanding Cumulative Trauma and Repetitive Stress Injuries

Cumulative trauma and repetitive stress injuries include damage that occurs because of excessive wear on the nerves, muscles, tendons, and other parts of the body because of repeated use over time. These types of injuries can develop because of repetitive movements, improper posture, or cumulative exposure to loud sounds or chemicals in the workplace.

The following types of professionals have a higher risk of developing repetitive stress and cumulative trauma injuries because of their job duties:

  • Data entry professionals
  • Secretaries
  • Nurses
  • Athletes
  • Musicians
  • Warehouse employees
  • Factory workers
  • Stockers

Any employee that has to perform the same motions repeatedly or who works in a noisy environment can have a risk of developing a cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injury.

Risk Factors for Developing a Gradual Injury

The following types of motions and situations can result in repetitive stress and cumulative trauma injuries in the workplace:

  • Repeated use of vibrating tools
  • Repetitive tasks such as on an assembly line
  • Improper positioning or poor posture
  • Workstations that lack ergonomic designs
  • Overwork
  • Lack of breaks or rest periods
  • Repeated typing
  • Remaining in the same position for extended periods
  • Lifting heavy weights frequently
  • Working in a loud environment without ear protection
  • Working around chemicals without adequate protection from exposure

Common Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries

Some common types of injuries that can result from repetitive movements or cumulative exposure in the workplace include the following:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Epicondylitis
  • Trigger finger
  • Hearing loss because of industrial noise exposure
  • Muscle and nerve damage to the neck
  • Radiation disability because of cumulative exposure to radiation
  • Cervical disc injuries, including disc herniations, bulges, and protrusions
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Lower back injuries

How to Handle Repetitive Stress or Cumulative Trauma Injuries

If you have symptoms of a repetitive stress injury or cumulative trauma injury, the first thing you should do is see your doctor. Your doctor can examine you and determine your diagnosis. They can also help by determining whether your injury is related to the duties of your job. To support your claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you will need to have a diagnosis and some medical records that show your injury likely occurred because of your job.

If your doctor tells you that you should take time off from work to heal, you can then file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer. Notify your employer about your injury and the fact that your doctor stated it occurred because of your job as soon as you learn about it. Since these types of claims are often more challenging to prove, you should also contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave. Contact us today to request a free consultation by calling 417-322-2222 (Springfield) or 417-624-4258 (Joplin). You can also contact us online.

Files under: Personal Injury