Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Are you experiencing an ongoing injury to your hips, knees, or other joint in the body due to a stressful or intense motion or position that is required of your job?
Occupations that require employees to perform the same task for an entire work day or hours on end are the most likely environments for cumulative trauma injuries to develop. These workplaces may include cashiers at a grocery store, assembly line workers, bartenders, word processors, drivers, and mechanics.
How a Cumulative Trauma Injury Develops
Cumulative trauma injuries account for all of those aches, pains, slipped discs, and inflamed joints that develop when you perform the same motion time and again. As you continuously twist, shift, lunge, or otherwise move your body, at times you push your body past its comfortable limit. As this happens over time, strain and stress begins to accumulate in delicate parts of the body.
For this reason, cumulative trauma injuries are sometimes referred to as repetitive stress injuries.
Cumulative trauma requires a lot of time to become a serious injury. While some workers do not experience any early symptoms, typically there are early signs that cumulative trauma is building. Some of these signs are tightness, stiffness, and discomfort in delicate areas of the body such as the neck and shoulders. Over time the motions and work-related activities that commonly cause cumulative trauma are:
- Heavy lifting
- Heavy pulling or pushing of materials
- Forceful hand motions
- Holding objects or materials
- Twisting when lifting
- Gripping vibrating tools or equipment
- Reaching or extending
- Use of non-ergonomic tools
- Sedentary standing or sitting
- Sitting in uncomfortable or poorly designed chairs
- Tasks involving awkward body posture
- Intensive typing
- Lengthy duration of the same task, and
- Insufficient time between tasks.
High Cost of Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Today, even at in an office employees are likely to develop cumulative trauma or repetitive stress injuries. This means that nearly every employer and every work environment is at risk of incurring workers’ compensation costs related to these injuries. Despite this frequency in the workplace, cumulative trauma can take a long time to heal or dissipate.
It is the long-term nature of cumulative trauma injuries that causes employers and insurance companies to be leery of workers’ compensation claims that are filed under this type of injury. For example:
- Pain in the lower back due to herniated disc or other spinal injury
- Arthritis, tendonitis, or other ache in the joints of upper extremities
- Pulled muscles in the legs, arms or neck
- Nerve damage in the neck or back
- Strain on tendons or ligaments in the knees, elbows, or shoulders, and
- Stress fractures in the shins or forearms.
New Jersey law requires that employees inform their employers of an injury, soon after the injury occurs. However, with these cumulative trauma injuries, pinpointing the moment of injury or event causing such injury is incredibly difficult. Given an employers predisposition to deny or dispute a cumulative trauma claim, the gradual development of the injury can mean an uphill battle for any employee seeking workers compensation.
Assistance of an Experienced Lawyer
Albert J. Talone, Esq. has represented individuals in a variety of cumulative trauma claims for workers’ compensation. This experience provides insight into how these claims must be framed for the Division of Workers’ Compensation and what evidence to provide.
Allow this experience to be a better result for your cumulative trauma claim for workers’ compensation. Contact our office at (856) 234-4023 to learn about legal representation.