Workers’ compensation covers repetitive stress injuries due to an individual’s job-related activities. RSIs, also known as cumulative trauma disorders or repetitive strain injuries, result from repetitive motions, forceful exertions, vibrations, or awkward postures that lead to physical strain over time.
They occur when repetitive movements at work damage tendons, muscles, ligaments, or nerves. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and difficulty moving, with the worst cases resulting in permanent disability.
Unfortunately, connecting RSIs with work-related causation is often more challenging than connecting an injury caused by a single event. This should not limit a California worker’s ability to pursue the workers’ compensation benefits they are entitled to — but obstacles will remain.
Here is what California employees need to know about workers’ compensation for RSIs.
Who is Eligible to File a Repetitive Stress Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim in California?
Before a California employee can pursue their employer’s workers’ compensation coverage for their repetitive stress injury, they must prove it is work-related. This means the repetitive movements or conditions at the workplace must have directly caused or contributed to the development of the RSI.
Common RSIs that may be eligible for workers’ compensation often affect the wrists, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and back and may include but are not limited to:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Osgood-Schlatter disease.
- Rotator cuff injuries.
- Strains and sprains.
- Tennis elbow.
- Trigger finger and trigger thumb.
It is crucial to report the RSI to your employer as soon as you become aware of it, as failing to report promptly could affect your eligibility for benefits.
How Can I Prove My RSI is Work-Related?
After reporting the injury, your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier may require you to undergo a medical evaluation to determine the nature and extent of the RSI.
Workers’ compensation generally covers necessary medical treatment for RSIs, including:
- Doctor’s visits.
- Physical therapy.
- Prescription medications.
- Surgery if a physician recommends it.
Injured workers can also use records from their doctors and other healthcare providers to prove their claims. They may need to introduce testimony from expert witnesses to establish a connection between the injuries and their employment.
If the RSI prevents an individual from working for a period, they may be eligible for temporary disability benefits. These benefits typically provide a portion of lost wages while they recover.
If the RSI results in a permanent impairment or disability, they may be entitled to permanent disability benefits, which compensate for the injury’s lasting effects.
In some cases, workers with RSIs may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services to help them return to work in a modified capacity if their injury prevents them from performing their previous job duties.
Proving that your RSI is work-related can be challenging, as these injuries develop gradually. Documenting your work activities, seeking medical treatment, and consulting with a workers’ compensation attorney to help establish the connection between your job and the RSI is essential.
Contact Our California Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld
RSIs can be complex when it comes to workers' compensation claims. Insurance companies may dispute the cause and extent of the injury. Consulting with an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be crucial in navigating the process, gathering evidence, and advocating for your rights.
At Ghitterman, Ghitterman & Feld, our California workers’ compensation attorneys have six physical offices in Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, and Visalia, and our top-tier technologies provide a virtual reach to serve clients throughout California. We offer free in-person, telephone, and virtual consultations to offer straightforward legal advice for your unique needs.
Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the best outcome for your important case.