When we think about an injury at work, most people think about the slip and fall accident on the jobsite, lifting something too heavy in the office or some other fact pattern where someone is hurt by something or someone while working.
These are what are referred to as “specific” injuries. In other words, a specific event allegedly caused the injury in question. For example, Bob, who is working at a construction site, is struck by a passing beam on Thursday, January 26, 2017. This is a specific incident on a specific day. But, there’s another type of injury that can be claimed for workers’ compensation benefits…
What makes an injury cumulative?
In a lot of instances, people are injured at work on a “cumulative” basis. What this means is that the individual has repetitively been exposed to a harmful circumstance, which has resulted in bodily harm. Another way of thinking about this is the straw that broke the camel’s back theory. While initial exposure to the events likely did not cause any noticeable injury, the ongoing and repetitive nature of the job or exposure has now caused some sort of pain or discomfort requiring medical treatment and other workers’ compensation benefits.
An example of a common cumulative trauma injury would be a grocery clerk who spends hours at the register scanning and bagging groceries. The repetitive nature of the activities with the clerk’s arms can lead to problems in one or both of the hands/wrists/elbows/etc.
A cumulative trauma claim is a compensable claim in California workers’ compensation. It is a good idea to report any pain or discomfort that is happening at work to a supervisor at your first opportunity. Don’t let too much time go by before letting your supervisor know that you might be getting hurt due to your job duties. First, you want to get medical attention as soon as possible if necessary. Second, the longer someone holds out on filing a claim the harder it may be able to prove later on.
There are many ways workers in California can be injured on the job from their continued exposure to aggravating conditions. Constant lifting, kneeling, bending, crawling, climbing and other strenuous activities take their toll on the labor force.
Gerald Brody & Associates
If you need help filing a cumulative trauma claim or have questions about an existing claim, please call us at your earliest opportunity. We will take the time to discuss the type of work you do and how you were injured so that we can make the best case for your maximum benefits going forward.