In California, employers are required to provide no-fault workers’ comp insurance benefits to their staff. A worker who is hurt on the job is entitled to get coverage for all reasonably necessary medical care and for partial wages. UnderCalifornia Labor Code section 3208.1, an injury may be specific or cumulative.
A cumulative injury is one that has no single cause, but that occurs due to “repetitive mentally or physically traumatic activities extending over a period of time.” Here, our Fresno workers’ comp lawyer provides a brief guide to repetitive stress injuries and workers’ comp claims in California.
A specific injury is one that results from a single incident. For example, a worker who falls from a ladder and then breaks a bone has suffered a specific injury. There is a clear cause and a distinct accident. In contrast, a cumulative trauma injury has no single cause. These injuries are also called repetitive stress injuries. Some of the most common examples of cumulative trauma injuries include:
As the name suggests, the injuries tend to occur because an employee’s body is forced to endure repeated stress. For instance, imagine that a construction worker is required to bend down and lift heavy objects day-after-day for many years. Over time, that work may develop a serious lower back pain. That cumulative trauma is covered by workers’ compensation.
While California law clearly states that cumulative trauma injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, injured employees sometimes face challenges in getting their benefits paid. Here are the two main issues that you might run into when filing a cumulative trauma workers’ comp claim in California:
- Causation: It is no secret that workers’ compensation insurance only covers job-related injuries. To get cumulative trauma covered, a claimant must present evidence of causation. You must connect your specific injury/impairment to repetitive strain required as part of your job duties.
- Onset Date: There is a statute of limitations for all workers’ compensation claims, including cumulative trauma claims. You must file a claim within one year of the date of the injury. Of course, with cumulative trauma, the onset date of the injury is not always clear. In California, a worker has one year to file a claim—starting from the date that the cumulative trauma injury became disabling and they knew or should have known that their job contributed to the condition.
Joseph C. Yrulegui is a top workers’ comp attorney. If you or your family member suffered a repetitive stress injury on the job, Mr. Yrulegui is standing by, ready to protect your rights. Contact us now for a strictly private review and evaluation of your case. From our Fresno office, we serve communities throughout the surrounding area, including in Clovis, Madera, Kingsburg, and Visalia.