According to the National Safety Council (NSC), one-third of all job-related injuries result from overexertion. This includes repetitive strain. Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) can be painful and debilitating, and they can also be extremely costly when they prevent you from doing your job.
For employees who suffer repetitive strain injuries on the job, filing for workers’ compensation can provide access to much-needed financial relief. Injured employees can collect benefits for their medical expenses and loss of income, and they can continue to receive benefits for as long as they are in recovery (in workers’ compensation terms, injured employees can receive benefits until they reach “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI”). However, proving that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a repetitive stress injury can be challenging; and, as a result, it is important that you speak with a lawyer about your claim as soon as possible.
Proving That Your Repetitive Strain Injury Is Work-Related
One of the main challenges involved with seeking workers’ compensation benefits for a repetitive strain injury has to do with proving the cause of your RSI. We call these types of claims WEAR and TEAR because they develop slowly over time when the physical demands of your job take a toll on your body. In order to receive benefits, it is not enough to show that your injury prevents you from working. You must also show that you suffered your injury as a result of your job duties.
Many different types of job-related activities can cause repetitive strain injuries. If you believe that your injury is related to your employment, you will need to work with your workers’ compensation attorney to prove how you were injured. Some of the most common causes of work-related repetitive strain injuries include:
- Typing on a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet
- Using a computer mouse
- Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
- Swiping merchandise at the register
- Lifting, twisting, and bending
- Carrying heavy loads
- Operating heavy machinery
- Working with hand tools
- Working on an assembly line
- Playing sports (as a professional athlete)
Factors That Can Increase the Risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries at Work
While a repetitive strain is enough on its own to cause injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, and lower back pain, there are a number of factors that can increase the risk of suffering a work-related RSI. If any of these factors are present in your workplace or otherwise relevant to your job, your attorney can use this to help prove that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Some examples of the types of factors that can increase the risk of suffering a repetitive strain injury at work include:
- Working in a cold or hot environment
- Working with vibrating tools or equipment
- Performing work activities that are particularly forceful or strenuous
- Needing to hold the same position for long periods (e.g., while typing, driving, or working at a register)
- Working under stress (e.g., due to tight deadlines)
- Working while fatigued (e.g. due to working extra hours or long shifts)
- Working for extended periods of time without adequate rest in between
Seeking Medical Treatment for a Repetitive Strain Injury at Work in New Jersey
If you are in pain or experiencing other symptoms of a repetitive strain injury, it is important that you seek medical treatment. However, you need to be careful to preserve your claim for workers’ compensation benefits as well.
Among other things, this means that you need to see a doctor who has been pre-approved by your employer. In New Jersey, employers have the legal right to choose the doctors who treat their employees’ job-related injuries, and seeing your own doctor could potentially prevent you from collecting benefits. As a result, you should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, and you should go to an approved doctor for treatment.
What if your employer does not refer you to a doctor? Or, what if your employer rejects your claim that your repetitive strain injury is related to your employment? In these situations, you can generally see a doctor of your own choosing without jeopardizing your workers’ compensation eligibility. However, to make sure you avoid any mistakes that could prevent you from collecting maximum benefits – and to make sure you are not denied benefits unfairly – you should speak with a compensation attorney promptly.
Schedule a Free Consultation about Your RSI Workers’ Compensation Claim
Are you struggling to cope with the effects of a repetitive strain injury that you suffered on the job?
An RSI or WEAR and TEAR injury may be a legitimate workplace injury for which you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you suffer from one of these types of injuries and it may be work-related, do not be afraid to seek medical help. Let your doctor know you believe it is a workplace injury.
While workers’ compensation insurance companies can make recovery for WEAR and TEAR injuries difficult, it is possible – especially with the right workers’ compensation attorney representing your interests. Many times, insurance adjusters presume that a WEAR and TEAR injury is related to the natural aging process or that it is due to a pre-existing condition that has nothing to do with work.
If so, it is in your best interest to contact aggressive, knowledgeable legal counsel experienced in successfully representing employees with WEAR and TEAR injuries. It is important to note that the passage of time may be fatal to your claim.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, we have helped many employees who suffered from repetitive stress injuries. To determine if you have a potential RSI or WEAR and TEAR claim, schedule a confidential appointment with one of Petro Cohen’s experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who can help you collect the benefits you deserve.
To get started with a free and confidential consultation at one of our four southern New Jersey offices (Northfield, Cherry Hill, Hamilton, or Cape May Court House), call Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo directly at 888-675-7607 or request an appointment online today.