How Can A Worker Demonstrate A Repetitive Stress Injury?
Workers' compensation exists to benefit anyone who suffers a qualifying injury at work. But while broken bones and missing fingers are hard to miss, other injuries take a more subtle toll on the body. Repetitive motion injuries can devastate a person's life, but proving damages for a workers' comp claim can be difficult. These five steps may help attorneys get the best outcomes for their clients.
Documenting the Condition
The more documentation a plaintiff brings to a claim, the more likely they are to succeed. This is especially true for repetitive injury claims. Whenever possible, workers must catalog the progression of their injury and any communications with the employer about it. Records establish both the long-term nature of the claim and the worker's efforts to correct it.
Pinpointing the Injury's Cause
The next step is to identify the specific motion that sparked the injury in the first place. This may be obvious, such as a trigger finger strain in a worker who uses many power tools. In other cases, the injury might need more clarification, like carpal tunnel syndrome in an office worker. What motions, carried out every day, exacerbated the condition until it became a chronic disorder? The greater the detail, the more plausible the claim.
Ruling Out Other Factors
In some cases, employers contest workers' comp claims, particularly when they feel an employee has a weak case. Take the office worker with carpal tunnel syndrome mentioned before. An employer looking to dodge the claim might suggest the worker developed inflammation at home, on a personal computer. Combatting these arguments may require a combination of documentation and the opinion of a medical witness.
Demonstrating Personal Harm
Another important factor in any workers' comp case is the extent of damage to a worker's life. Is the employee still able to work or lead a normal life? To what extent does the injury impair that person? Greater harm may lead to a larger claim, but legal teams should always present the harm to their client honestly.
Undergoing an Independent Medical Evaluation
Of course, few workers think to report and write down notes about a sore wrist. By the time that wrist is swollen for weeks, it could be too late. Repetitive motion injuries are by nature slow to develop, making many difficult to prove beyond a doubt. This is where independent medical evaluations can help.
During an independent medical evaluation, an unbiased doctor an examines the patient and presents their professional opinion on their injury, its source, and its impact on human life. This testimony adds significant weight to a workers' comp case. If you are an attorney representing a client with a repetitive injury claim, don't skip this crucial step to build the strongest case possible.