Question

I’ve noticed my repetitive job duties are causing me health problems and pain. Can I file for a workers’ compensation claim in California?

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G. Julie Oktanyan - Workers' Compensation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: G. Julie Oktanyan

Located in Glendale, CAOktanyan Der-Grigorian Law Group

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Answer

The short answer is that yes, cumulative trauma caused by repetitive job injures can make you eligible to use workers’ compensation. However, there are a few finer points to explore for any individual thinking of using this system.

What repetitive means in this context

Any duty that your job requires you to perform over and over is repetitive. Generally, this means over the entire course of your employment at that company. Laborers, construction workers, packers, factory workers, agriculture workers and office workers are all at risk for cumulative trauma caused by repetitive movement.

However, to prove that an injury was caused by a repetitive movement performed during work may require diagnostic testing and medical care. A doctor can perform tests to determine whether the repetitive action developed a neuropathy or other orthopedic injury or condition. Some common body parts that are injured are hands, neck and back.

Employees must follow a set of steps to be eligible for compensation

Luckily, workers’ compensation has a benefit delivery system set up just for these types of injuries. However, there are a few steps you should follow to be sure you have the best chance at your benefits. The injured party must:

  1. Give notice to their employer as soon as they need medical assistance. Many people try to self-medicate, getting by on over-the-counter pain medication until it’s really bad. Your employer will have a claim form you can fill out to seek benefits and will give you information like any doctor you should go see.
  2. Go see a doctor. You are entitled to see a doctor, and it shouldn’t jeopardize your ability to seek benefits. Your employer may have a preferred health care provider that you must go see, but you should seek care. Even if you did not tell your employer, you must go see a doctor regardless so that later you can prove the injury has been bothering you for some time.

An attorney can help you seek benefits as well

Nearly any job can lead to cumulative injuries. Whether you are a pharmacist, an office worker, a day laborer or a technician, your body can suffer from the effect of job duties both physically in the form of neuropathy, gastric issues, headaches, neck pain, back pain, or even strokes or heart attacks. Psychological damage can take place, too, caused by things like excessive workload or a hostile work environment. Remember that no matter what happened to you, you can always talk to a lawyer and find out through their experience whether you may be able to seek benefits.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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