Any job can put a lot of stress and strain on the body. In both industrial jobs and office jobs, there are opportunities to incur repetitive stress injuries.
Under New Jersey laws these are known as “wear and tear” injuries. While this terminology may make you feel a little bit like you’re being treated like an apartment or a car, the fact is that the law does allow you to receive compensation when work inexorably robs you of your health. It doesn’t all come down to traumatic accidents or chemical exposure.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a well-known example, but there are others, such as rotator cuff injuries. Some of these injuries can have a severe impact on a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day lives.
However, you do have to take the appropriate steps to get the compensation you deserve.
First, you’ll need to provide your employer with written notice, just as if you’d suffered from an accident at work. This can be as simple as a dated letter which says, “I have begun experiencing severe wrist pain on the job, the result of a work-related repetitive stress injury. I would like to start the workers compensation process.”
At that point your workplace should assign you to a doctor or a medical facility who will provide you with a diagnosis and treatment. Be sure to bring a copy of your job description with you to your appointment.
Somewhat suspicious of an employer-run clinic? It’s not a bad idea to get a second opinion. It’s also not a bad idea to contact an attorney at this time. You’re going to need to be prepared to prove your case.
Your employer’s going to want to try to prove that your RSA came from your home or hobby activities, or from a previous job.
Fortunately, you don’t have to prove, with 100% certainty, that your repetitive stress injury came from your job. You just have to prove it within a “reasonable degree of medical certainty.” It just has to look more likely than not that the injury came from the job.
Certain factors may come into play, like expert opinions or your longevity at the position. If you’ve been working for the company for the week claiming an RSA might be a hard sell. If you’ve been working in the same place for a decade you may experience a smoother, easier process.
Either way, there’s a good chance you will need an attorney to help you prove this kind of case, especially if the RSA is severe enough to keep you off the job long-term.