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Repetitive Motion Injury occurs by doing the same motion over and over, but how would that occur in the work field?
Injuries on the job are frequently thought of as single events such as a falling, pulling a muscle, or dislocating a joint. However, work injuries do not always occur as a single incident. Some injuries are the result of repetitive and continuous acts over a long period of time that may not even be immediately obvious. Examples of such injuries would be carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as back and neck herniated discs.
What is the difference between the different injury types?
There are two types of injuries in workers’ compensation law:
- a specific injury that occurs on the date of the specific incident or exposure; and
- a continuous trauma injury which occurs over an extended period of time.
Per California Labor Code, continuous trauma injuries are a result of mentally or physically traumatic activities that are repetitive in nature and are extended over a long period of time; collectively resulting in injury or harm. (California Labor Code §3208.1(b))
To better understand and unpack this definition a bit, let’s elaborate.
Given the nature of the injury not being caused by a single incident, but rather a cumulation of multiple events, it could take a long time before realizing that you have an injury caused by your work.
- Example: Nelly operating heavy equipment everyday at work for 10 years may eventually cause her to have injuries to her back, knees, or wrist, etc. These injuries may take a while for her to feel and then a while more for her to realize they are an injury caused by work.
- Example: Sara works 40 plus hours a week doing repetitive work assembling the same few parts over and over again. Assembling the parts once won’t likely cause an injury in one day, but the repetitive nature of the many movements over time will result in an injury and Sara unfortunately may not even realize it until it’s too late.
How long do I have to file a workers’ compensation claim for a continuous trauma injury?
An employee has a statute of limitations period of one year to file a workers compensation claim from the later of the following: (California Labor Code §5405)
- The date of the injury
- The date of last payment of indemnity (EDD / temporary disability payment)
- The last date medical treatment was received
The date of a continuous trauma injury is considered to have occured when the employee first suffered from their disability and either: (California Labor Code §5412)
- Knew the injury was caused by their employment; OR
- Should have known the injury was caused by their employment
- Example: Let’s say that Emilio, while at work, noticed his wrist was hurting from lifting boxes and decided to go to Doctor K on January 10th 2021. However, Doctor K gave him some mild treatment and told him to go back to work; and Emilio did so without filing a workers’ compensation claim. A few months later on March 10th 2021, Emilio had no choice but to stop working because of his wrist pain. Since it has been three months since his last medical treatment, which is still within the one-year statute of limitations, Emilio may file a workers’ compensation claim against his employer.
Consult with an experienced attorney for more information
It is important that you stay proactive and fulfill your obligatory duty of reporting the injury and seeing a doctor before the injury worsens. Getting started with treatment early can dramatically increase your chances of making a full recovery. Make sure that you always speak up and voice your complaints so that your company’s doctors don’t release you back to work before you are recovered fully.
If you believe you have a continuous trauma injury claim, we can help get you the benefits you deserve. Your justice is our priority.
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