When it comes to NJ workers’ compensation, many applicable injuries happen in an instant. For example, an employee trips over an extension cord and fractures her arm, or a delivery driver is injured in a motor vehicle accident on his route. While there can be other issues with these claims, it is pretty clear that the incident and resulting injuries were job-related. However, a substantial number of workplace injuries aren’t so clear-cut, for example a repetitive motion injury.
When an employee is injured due to a repetitive motion, such as typing on a keyboard for long hours or twisting to sort different components of a product on an assembly line, there is less certainty how and when the injury occurred. In these examples, and hundreds of similar situations in NJ workers’ compensation, evidence of the injury becomes substantially more important.
What Is a Repetitive Motion Injury?
Repetitive motion injuries are those ongoing aches and pains that arise gradually and over time. It can take months or even years at a specific job before there is any indication of the injury, and many employees continue to work through the initial warning signs of a potential injury.
These injuries often manifest in the neck, back, shoulders, and extremities. In terms of diagnosis, carpal tunnel, tendinitis, and bursitis.
Certain professions are more susceptible to repetitive motion injuries and resulting NJ workers’ compensation claims. Some of these jobs are transportation operators, such as bus drivers, school teachers, factory workers, painters, custodians, typists and copywriters, and nurses (who are susceptible to a number of job-related injuries, as described here). All of these jobs require employees to hold a position for an extended period of time or repeat the same motion time and again.
Problems with Proof in Repetitive Motion Cases
Repetitive injuries can have the same debilitating effect on a worker as sudden, traumatic accidents. Furthermore, repetitive motion injuries are just as deserving of NJ workers’ compensation, but employees often find that employers and insurance adjusters less amenable and willing to approve a claim for these injuries.
What is the reason for hesitation or unwillingness to provide workers’ compensation benefits for these injures? It is simply more difficult for employees to provide proof that the injury or illness occurred as a result of their job. This matters to the employer and insurance company, whose interests are not always aligned with the employee. In this case it is in the insurance company’s interest to avoid paying a claim.
It is the responsibility of the employee to prove an injury is compensable under NJ workers’ compensation. This means showing that the injury arose from a work-related activity, and not from hobbies or actions outside the workplace. Without clear evidence that pain, injury, or illness is job-related, it is much more difficult to win a NJ workers’ compensation case.
Collecting Evidence of a Repetitive Motion Injury
Assessment by a medical professional is going to be strong evidence that a repetitive motion led to your injury. You want a doctor or specialists to provide substantial detail on your injury, including how long it took to develop and potential causes of the repetitive motion injury. The more information a doctor is willing to provide in support of the conclusion that your injury resulted from repetitive actions at work, the better.
Expert opinions are also helpful in these cases. Testimony from an expert can be expensive, but this is typically the way to draw a clear connection between your injury and the activity. Unlike an average witness, the expert can give an opinion, based on his or her knowledge and experience, regarding how the injury developed. Other evidence includes your account that certain actions at work cause or exacerbate the pain.
If you are experiencing early signs of a repetitive motion injury, such as occasional pain in your hands or slight aches, you should inform your manger or HR representative. This provides some documentation of these aches and pains in the workplace. Later, you may need these individuals to confirm that you related the pain to the workplace early on.
Handling a Delayed or Denied Claim for Repetitive Motion Injury
If you have received pushback from an employer or insurance provider regarding a repetitive motion injury, you should contact a NJ workers’ compensation attorney. Attorney Albert J. Talone has an established reputation for NJ worker’ compensation representation in Southern New Jersey.
His office, the Law Offices of Albert J. Talone regularly handle complicated claims, such as those for a repetitive motion injury, repetitive stress injury, or cumulative trauma injury. Call today at (856)-234-4023 to schedule a free consultation.