Learn how to prove a repetitive stress injury was caused by your job so you can get compensation
Many types of careers expose people to occupational hazards, and you might already be taking precautions to prevent injuries. Wearing a protective helmet, using proper lifting techniques and being cautious around slippery surfaces are all ways to avoid getting hurt at work.
However, there are some types of work injuries that are harder to prevent. Repetitive stress injuries can occur simply from you doing your normal daily job duties, and knowing how and when to seek workers’ comp benefits can help you begin your recovery.
What are repetitive stress injuries?
Repetitive stress (or motion) injuries can occur if you engage in a specific motion or set of movements consistently throughout your work day.
Over time, repetitive movements generate wear and tear on your muscles, ligaments, tendon sheaths, nerves and other parts of your body that can lead to debilitating symptoms.
You’ll sometimes hear these injuries being referred to as ergonomic or musculoskeletal injuries. Currently, musculoskeletal issues are the most expensive type of workplace injuries in the United States, with $20 billion a year being spent on workers’ comp costs and another $100 billion lost in productivity and other related expenses annually.
What are the most common repetitive motion injuries?
If you think about how many jobs are performed, you can see how certain injuries tend to be more common.
For example, a customer service agent who consistently types for 8 hours a day is more likely to develop carpal tunnel syndrome, while a construction worker who swings a hammer all day long could easily develop tendonitis.
Workers may also develop herniated discs in their spine if they frequently perform tasks that involve bending or lifting repetitively throughout the work day.
Other common types of repetitive strain injuries include:
- Tennis elbow
- Trigger finger
- Ganglion cysts
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What occupations have the highest incidences of receptive motion injuries?
Any employee that performs repetitive tasks or has a job that involves heavy exertion is at risk for developing these injuries. You’ll also want to be aware of your risk status if you work in construction, for example, and use machinery or tools, such as a jackhammer or air gun, that cause vibrations to reverberate throughout specific parts of your body.
Even jobs that seem safer than average tend to carry a higher risk for repetitive motion injuries. Office workers are among those who tend to file the most claims.
A few other high-risk occupations for repetitive motion injuries include the following:
- Assembly line workers
- Cake decorators
- Hair stylists
- Tattoo artists
Are repetitive motion injuries covered by workers’ comp in South Carolina?
Once you develop symptoms of repetitive strain on your body, your next question is likely to be:
Does workers’ comp cover repetitive motion injuries?
In South Carolina, these injuries are covered under the current law for benefits. However, you do need to prove that the injury was directly caused by you performing your job duties.
How do you prove a repetitive motion injury was caused by your job?
Many of these types of injuries have symptoms that occur gradually, so you might not have a single instance you can point to when you became injured as you would have with a broken arm. This can make figuring out how to prove a repetitive stress injury occurred from work more complicated.
Below are some factors that can make it easier for your attorney to prove your injury is work-related.
- Timing of your injury. The timing could be important for proving that your injury came from work. For instance, someone who develops tennis elbow within a few months of starting a job is likely to have received the injury from performing their duties if their activities outside of work haven’t changed during that time.
- Medical documentation confirming a cause. It’s important to seek medical attention when you first notice symptoms developing, and be sure to tell your doctor about any work duties you’re doing that may be causing or aggravating your condition.If your doctor determines that your job duties are likely the cause of your symptoms and injury, it’ll be easier for your attorney to obtain compensation.
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What workers’ comp benefits are available for repetitive stress injuries?
There are 3 main types of benefits that you might receive in a repetitive motion injury workers’ comp settlement. They include:
- Medical care reimbursement. All necessary medical care should be covered under your workers’ comp benefits, including doctor appointments, emergency room visits, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications, medical supplies and equipment, and artificial members.
- Lost wages. If your injury leaves you unable to work or work at a reduced capacity, workers’ comp will pay a portion of your lost wages, which is generally two-thirds of your average weekly wage for a period of time that varies based on your disability.
- Death benefits. If a work accident results in your death, your dependents may be entitled to certain benefits, including $12,000 for funeral and burial expenses.
How long do you have to file a repetitive motion injury claim in South Carolina?
Although repetitive stress injuries tend to develop gradually, you will need to act quickly once you have discovered that one is impacting your life.
In South Carolina, you have 90 days to provide notice of your injury to your employer after its discovery. There is also a statute of limitations that gives you a maximum of 2 years from the date you knew or should have known about your injury to file a claim and be eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
When to contact a South Carolina workers’ comp attorney
The good news is that repetitive motion injuries are covered under South Carolina’s workers’ comp laws, but you do face strict standards regarding how these cases are handled.
From connecting the injury to your work duties to making sure that you file a claim in time, an experienced workers’ comp attorney can help. Make sure to reach out for help as soon as you suspect or know that you’ve sustained a repetitive motion injury so you can begin building a case that supports your claims.
If you live in South Carolina and you believe you’ve developed a repetitive stress injury because of your work, the experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys at Chappell, Smith & Arden, P.A. are here to help. We can investigate your case, file all necessary paperwork, consult medical experts and negotiate with your employer and their insurance company to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for injured workers across the state of South Carolina, and we’d love the opportunity to help you, too. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.