Atlanta Repetitive Trauma Injury Lawyer
Repetitive trauma, also known as cumulative trauma, repetitive motion injuries, and repetitive strain injuries, develops over time. Carpal tunnel syndrome, a debilitating injury to the wrist, is perhaps the most widely known example. However, repetitive trauma can impact almost any joint in the body. Repetitive trauma is not caused by one specific event, but instead occurs gradually over time, as the result of repetitive motion, stress, or strain on a particular body part. As such, many employees filing for workers’ compensation for repetitive trauma injuries worry that it may be difficult to prove their injury was caused by workplace conditions since they cannot pinpoint any one specific event as its cause. Thus, it’s important to have an experienced and reputable Atlanta repetitive trauma injury lawyer by your side to help you gather proper evidence for building a strong case. A workers’ comp attorney will stand up for you and advocate for your best interests to ensure you get the workers’ comp benefits that you deserve.
Despite the confusion over whether repetitive trauma qualifies for workers’ compensation, it is an increasingly common workplace injury. It is often diagnosed in employees whose workday involves heavy computer use, or who develop repetitive motion injuries caused by working in manufacturing facilities or in other jobs that require employees to perform the same motion over and over throughout their day.
Workers’ Comp Benefits for Repetitive Strain Injuries
Workplace injuries are often associated with a single, life-altering incident, such as a fall from a roof or an engine explosion. However, most work-related injuries develop over time from the cumulative effect of repetitive movements or postures on the job—from scanning groceries to keyboarding, from holding a jackhammer to hammering nails.
Fortunately, employees may get workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive strain injuries (RSIs), if they can show that their work duties were the cause of the injuries.
What Are Repetitive Strain Injuries?
Under state workers’ comp systems, RSIs go by different names, such as repetitive stress injuries, overuse injuries, repetitive trauma injuries, or cumulative trauma (a larger category that includes other injuries that develop over time, like hearing loss from repeated exposure to loud sounds).
Unlike a specific incident of workplace injury, a repetitive trauma injury is an injury to a body part that develops gradually over time. These injuries, also called repetitive stress disorders, develop due to repeated stress on a physical area.
When one performs work duties or activities that create this kind of continual stress, the situation may justify making a workers’ compensation claim. Repetitive motions such as bending, lifting, typing, and climbing are all examples of this.
Constantly using or operating one type of heavy equipment can create this type of injury. Examples of the types of repetitive workplace activities which can create these injuries include typing and working at computers, assembly line work, meatpacking, and driving forklifts.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome, lower back pain, trigger finger, epicondylitis (often called tennis elbow), bursitis, and tendonitis of the wrists, elbows, and knees are common types of repetitive trauma injuries. Common areas of the body that are injured from repetitive motions are the hands, wrists, shoulders, back, hips, knees, and feet.
Often no visible signs of the injury exist, but those affected may experience pain, numbness, tingling, swelling, redness, stiffness, and the loss of muscle strength. Over time, those injured in this way may develop temporary or permanent soft tissue damage.
Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injuries
An RSI may involve any or all of several different symptoms in the affected part of your body, including:
- pain, from tenderness and dull aches to throbbing or acute pains
- reduced range of motion or flexibility, and
- loss of strength or coordination.
In the early stages, you may not notice any symptoms, or you may experience them only when you are doing a particular motion or holding a particular posture.
Without treatment, you may eventually experience pain, weakness, and other symptoms all the time—even after rest—leaving you unable to do your job or even perform simple actions needed for your daily life.
And if you can’t work, then you can’t earn a living. Therefore, you will need to seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced and reputable Atlanta repetitive trauma injury lawyer can help you build a strong case and file a successful workers’ comp claim.
Jobs Most at Risk for Repetitive Strain Injuries
Most people associate RSIs with working at a computer. Given how many jobs regularly require using a mouse, keyboard, and/or touchscreen, it is no surprise that computer-related cumulative injuries to the hands, arms, and wrists are common.
But RSIs can develop from a wide range of other job tasks that require repeated micro-movements, using vibrating equipment, frequent lifting and carrying, or holding awkward postures.
In addition to the many occupations that involve computer use, other high-risk jobs for RSIs include:
- janitors and housekeeping cleaners
- nurses and health care aides
- grocery and stock clerks
- delivery workers
- bus drivers
- plumbers and pipefitters
- agricultural and meat processing workers
- musicians, and
- professional athletes.
Repetitive Strain Injuries: Prevention and Treatment
It is important to pay attention to the warning signs of an RSI so that it can be caught early on. If you think that your symptoms are related to your job, notify your employer immediately.
You should also see a doctor as soon as possible (though you will have to follow the rules in your state’s workers’ comp system for seeking medical treatment for a work-related injury).
“Toughing it out” or waiting to get care could not only hinder your recovery, but it might also make it more difficult to get workers’ comp benefits. You should consult an Atlanta repetitive trauma injury lawyer about your work-related repetitive trauma injury to advise you on the way forward.
Be sure to tell the doctor what you were doing when you experienced symptoms, as well as the time of day. The doctor might say that you need to stop working for a while or work shorter hours to allow your RSI to get better.
The doctor may also prescribe work restrictions, such as time limits on how long you should do certain tasks, frequent breaks, or ergonomic adjustments to your equipment or workstation.
Treatment options vary depending on the type of RSI and its severity. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome can be treated with simple rest, wrist supports, medication, or a surgery known as carpal tunnel release.
Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim for Carpal Tunnel or Other RSIs
Depending on your state laws, you or your employer will need to file a claim to start your worker’s comp case officially. RSIs are generally covered under workers’ compensation, but a few states set special limits on cumulative injuries or require employees to meet higher standards for proving their RSIs were caused by work duties rather than other activities in their life.
Each state has its own deadline for filing workers’ comp claims; in the case of repetitive trauma injuries/cumulative injuries, the time period generally starts when you first experienced some disability (such as missing work or needing medical care) and you knew or should have known that it was caused by your work.
Repetitive Trauma Claims May Be Denied
Workers’ compensation insurance carriers often deny claims involving repetitive motion disorders. They may put forth various defenses, such as assertions that the injury is not serious enough to warrant benefits or that it’s unrelated to work activities.
Getting sufficient and convincing evidence from a medical professional is often critical in this type of case.
Getting Legal Help
RSIs can be expensive for insurance companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these injuries resulted in the longest absences from work (among the most common workplace injuries) for several years in the early 2000s. So, insurers often do everything they can to avoid paying benefits.
Your employer’s insurer could easily balk at paying for your medical care or denies your claim. That is why you need a skilled and experienced workers’ comp attorney who will fight for your rights and look out for your best interests. An Atlanta repetitive trauma injury lawyer can tilt the scales in your favor by developing the proper medical evidence to support your claim.
Atlanta Repetitive Trauma Injury Lawyer
At Bobe & Snell Law Office LLC, we understand the difficulties you may face in making a workers’ compensation claim for repetitive trauma injuries. We can help you in getting a medical opinion from a neutral physician that will reflect the true nature of your injuries and aggressively fight on your behalf to help you collect the maximum workers’ compensation benefits that you deserve.
We will represent you on a contingency-fee-basis i.e. we’ll only get paid when you recover compensation – via settlement or court judgment. Contact us today at (470) 268-5802 or online to schedule a FREE, no-obligation consultation/case review to discuss the details of your case.
Atlanta Repetitive Trauma Injury Lawyer