Sometimes, a work injury happens suddenly. Other times, it can take years to develop. While both of these can form the basis of a workers' compensation claim, the practicalities involved can differ.
Because cumulative trauma injuries can be complicated to identify and treat, such cases may present unique challenges. An experienced attorney can provide the guidance and strategy appropriate to your particular situation.
Cumulative injuries can happen in the normal course of work
The hallmark of a cumulative trauma is its gradual development as a result of normal work activities. Just as with other types of workers' compensation claims, your employer does not have to act negligently or do anything at all wrong for you to succeed in your claim and receive benefits. Thus, the activity that causes your injury is often a completely ordinary work duty.
Persistent strain or repetitive motion over a period of time are two common causes of various types of cumulative injuries. Workers who spend their day typing, cutting or pressing buttons can end up developing conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Others may develop leg or back problems due to prolonged standing.
Because these conditions can take years to develop, it can be hard to pinpoint the moment you realize something is wrong. Many people get used to minor aches and pains and do not seek out medical attention until the pain becomes severe or they find themselves unable to function as usual.
Normally, you have a strict deadline from the time of your injury to file a workers' compensation claim. When the injury does not happen all at once, this deadline may start rolling from the time you learn about your condition. For some people, this can happen after they leave their job or begin retirement. As long as you did not know you were injured at any time before your last day of work, you may still be able to file for workers' compensation.