When you make a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, it is your obligation to prove that you were injured and that your injury occurred as a result of your work. Unlike a civil lawsuit, you do not have to prove that a specific factor caused your injury or that you were not to blame. However, you do have to meet the specific requirements of a workers’ compensation claim.
For those workers dealing with repetitive stress injuries, this can be more complicated than one might initially realize. Where your injury arises slowly over time or is mixed with other physical ailments, it can be difficult to establish that the injury occurred. Where the injury could have many causes, it can also be difficult to show that work is the primary cause of the injury.
When considering how to prove a workers’ compensation claim for a repetitive stress injury, your medical providers can be crucial to the establishment of your claim. Their careful documentation and expertise can make all the difference in establishing the validity of your injury.
The Challenges of Proving WEAR and TEAR Injuries in Northfield
Before discussing how medical providers can help you establish your claim, it is important to understand the challenges that workers with WEAR and TEAR injuries face.
Unlike a sudden accident on the job, like a fall from a ladder, WEAR and TEAR injuries rarely arise out of one specific act by an employee on the job. Rather, they are the result of cumulative actions over months or even years. This is what is meant by “repetitive stress.”
For example, if your job requires you to bend down and pick up boxes hour after hour, day after day, this puts continual stress on your knees and back. Over time, it can begin to wear down the cartilage in your knees or place pressure on your back, which can cause you pain and restricted movement. Eventually, these repetitive motions may become too painful or even impossible.
By their very nature, it is difficult to pinpoint a precise time or date when a repetitive stress injury occurs. Rarely can an employee point to a specific incident at work where the injury arose. Similarly, the injury may be aggravated by not only the responsibilities of work, but also other daily activities like taking out the trash or picking up kids – which also makes it difficult to pinpoint the precise cause.
Because workers bear the burden of establishing their injury and that it occurred on the job, the ambiguity of a repetitive stress injury is particularly challenging. Many insurance companies are particularly skeptical of these types of injuries. Knowing this, employees making a claim must do their best to present a full picture in support of their case, including utilizing the knowledge of their medical professionals.
Relying on Your Doctor for Support
One of the best ways to establish your workers’ compensation claim is to provide impartial evidence of the existence of your injury and the cause of the injury. While workers can, and do, provide their own testimony about the injury they experienced and how it occurred, this testimony is typically treated with some scrutiny, as it has a self-serving purpose.
By contrast, the testimony of a medical professional who treats a worker for an injury is often more respected, because the medical provider has no “skin in the game.” They have nothing to benefit by testifying on behalf of the work, and thus their evidence can often be given more weight.
For obvious reasons, the testimony and documentation of a medical provider can go a long way toward establishing the existence of your injury. If your doctor has observed and evaluated the injury, provided treatment, and kept tabs on how the injury has progressed, this will often be enough to convince a workers’ compensation insurer that the injury has occurred. Things like medical imaging, testing, x-rays, and other procedures can also help in this regard.
Similarly, your doctor’s records with respect to how the injury arose, when you first came in for treatment, how the injury has progressed, and what seems to aggravate the injury, can all help in establishing that your work – and not another hobby or event – is the cause of your injury. For example, if your doctor regularly notices that, after a difficult work day, your pain is heightened. Or he or she recommends that you not lift heavy objects that you are required to lift at work, this can help to establish the causation element of your claim.
New Jersey Attorneys Coordinating with Your Medical Providers to Establish Your Claim
Although you may understand that having a medical provider to support your workers’ compensation claim is helpful, you may be uncertain of what to ask of that individual or how they can help. Making the best use of these professional resources can even seem overwhelming at times.
At Petro Cohen Petro Matarazzo, our workers’ compensation attorneys know exactly what kind of evidence you need to establish your repetitive stress injury claim and can work with you to make sure you get the testimony and documentation that will support your claim.
Our workers’ comp attorneys have more than 100 years of experience in successfully handling cases for our clients and will work hard to ensure you received the benefits you rightfully deserve.
As a valued client of our firm, you can expect legal excellence when we handle your matter, regardless of the size of your case. Your case management will involve a comprehensive review of basic workers’ compensation coverage – such as wages and medical coverage – along with more complex issues, like WEAR and TEAR injuries, which may not be evident immediately because the issues developed over time. No matter what the extent of your injuries are, you will always be treated courteously and professionally by our staff.
For your convenience, we have four offices in southern New Jersey to serve you, including Northfield, Cherry Hill, Hamilton, and Cape May Court House. Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM, or you can chat with us online 24/7 by visiting our Web site: PetroCohen.com
For more information or to schedule an appointment for your free consultation, contact us online or at (888) 675-7607.