What are Repetitive Trauma Injuries?
Some injuries happen in a single instance. Others takes months or even years to develop. In Workers’ Compensation, injuries that occur over a period of time are sometimes called repetitive trauma injuries. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, and more. These conditions are most common in workers with hand-intensive job duties. Jobs such as coil winder, receptionist, or mechanics have increased rates of these conditions. Unfortunately, few people are aware of these conditions or their symptoms. Therefore, these types of injuries often go unreported. When they are reported, your employer may tell you it’s too late to bring a claim. Don’t blindly trust your employer, contact an attorney to find out what your rights actually are.
How Has Missouri Handled Repetitive Trauma?
In the case of Pogue v. Plaza Tire, the Workers’ Compensation Commission was asked to decide whether a claimant’s carpal tunnel syndrome was work related. In that case, the claimant began to notice numbness, tingling and pain in his hands and wrists. He believed those symptoms were from years working as an auto mechanic. In repetitive trauma cases, the Commission typically focuses on 1) how long the claimant worked for his employer, 2) the claimant’s job duties, and 3) any prior hand/wrist injuries or conditions. The Commission also looks to the treating doctors and their opinions. In Pogue, the employer’s doctor did not believe carpal tunnel syndrome would be work-related except in rare situations. The claimant’s doctor testified that he believed the claimant did have carpal tunnel syndrome and that it was related to work. The Commission found the claimant’s expert more credible and awarded benefits.
How Important is the Company Doctor?
n Workers’ Compensation, it is common for doctors to disagree on several issues. Some issues include: whether the injury is work related, what is the claimant’s diagnosis, how badly injured is the claimant, etc. Just because your employer’s doctor tells you that your condition is not related to work, does not make it so. Remember, it is your employer’s doctor. Their loyalty is to the employer, not you. Because of that, you may need to seek out your own doctor. This is a very important step and it is critical that you get the best doctor possible. This will increase your chances of winning at trial. At BiState we have great relationships with a number of top doctors. This has helped us win countless cases that we have seen other workers lose.
In addition to getting a great doctor, you must set the doctor up for success. This includes several steps. First, we make sure the doctor has all of your medical records. Second, we make sure the doctor understands all of the complex legal issues in your case. Third, make sure you ask the doctor the right questions. Checking off these three boxes will greatly increase your chances of success.