Some workplace injuries reflect the damage caused by a single incident, such as the sudden breakdown of a once reliable apparatus. Yet, at times, an injury develops slowly, over time, due to the wear and tear on specific body parts. Medical problems that develop slowly often aid the creation of a cumulative trauma injury.
What is a cumulative trauma injury?
That type of injury has been caused by repeated performance of a single activity. It could be placed in the same class as similar repetitive motion injuries.
What are some examples of repetitive motion injuries?
Carpel tunnel syndrome: Caused by repeated movement of the wrist. Characterized by pain, numbness and tingling in the hand.
Back injuries: Caused by motions that put strain on the back, repeatedly.
• Raynaud’s syndrome
• Tennis elbow
• Rotator cuff
• Golfer’s elbow
How does an affected employee prove the existence of such a problem?
Employee must introduce injury claim at an early stage of its development; before a stated deadline has passed. They also need to show the requirement for medical treatment.
Possible tactics by employer
Ask employee to attend an independent medical exam, in hopes that the examining doctor will deny the existence of the claimed injury. If the first exam does not lead to substantiation of the employer’s claim, then the employee might be asked to attend a second independent exam.
Try to prove that the actions performed at work represented only a small part of all the actions performed by the injured employee. In other words, the other actions, those that took place outside of the workplace, represented the primary cause of the cumulative trauma injury.
Suppose, for example that a man that chops down trees for a living develops problems with his elbow. He might think that he has a case against his employer. Yet the employer learns that the same man likes to play golf on weekends. He could be suffering from golfer’s elbow.
The accident victim needs to produce evidence of other factors that could have encouraged development of the cumulative trauma injury. For instance, a female employee that develops carpal tunnel syndrome while working in a science lab, seeks compensation. Her award gets reduced, due to the fact that she was pregnant, and pregnancy is known to encourage development of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Can such injuries be prevented?
Yes, at least in some cases, as per personal injury lawyer in Turlock and Hollister. There are some exercises that can work to prevent the development of repetitive motion injuries. For instance, if employees are expected to do a daily exercise that puts a mild strain on their wrists. The nature of the created strain runs counter to the sorts of strains that can damage the wrist. Thus, it acts to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.