Not all work injuries happen in one accident. Cumulative trauma injuries (CTI) (also known as cumulative trauma disorders) are injuries that affect people who perform repetitive activities over time. Under California workers’ compensation law, if a CTI is work-related—even though it occurred over time—then it is considered a work-related injury and the worker can get medical treatment and other benefits.
Contact a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
In almost all cases when someone is injured on the job, the worker will get the best possible outcome by hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Attorney Alice A. Strömbom focuses exclusively on Workers’ Compensation Law. She is very familiar with the tactics insurance companies use to avoid providing the medical treatment and disability benefits injured workers deserve, and has a recognized track record in combating such issues.
Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation.
An Example – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
We’ve all heard of carpal tunnel syndrome which is a type of cumulative trauma injury that typically occurs in workers using a keyboard many hours a day.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of many CTIs and afflicts around 8 million people a year in the U.S. with most of these being related to work with a keyboard. Although it’s the most well-known CTI, it’s not the most common. According to the Center for Disease Control, the top three CTI rates (number of injuries per hours worked) come from factories, recycling facilities and offices.
Some of the most common professions in California where workers have made claims for a CTI are:
- Factory Line Worker
- Office Secretary/Administrator (Keyboard)
- Nursing and other Healthcare Support
- Construction Worker
- Food Service Worker
- Building Maintenance
CTI’s are injuries of the musculoskeletal system including the joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. There are four types of repetitive injuries that affect workers depending on the type of work, which body part is being used and how often the repetition. They are:
- Repetitive Motion: When a worker uses the same part of the body like a hand or shoulder in a repetitive motion for hours at a time, this can produce “micro-trauma” to the area, which then needs time to heal before more use. When the trauma doesn’t have time to heal between shifts, then a CSI forms.
- Muscle Tension: All parts of the body need a steady blood supply, and when muscles get used repetitively, they can become inflamed and swell up. This can cut off the blood supply and cause pain and discomfort eventually spreading to the nerves which can cause numbness and tingling.
- Over Use: Even area that are not used in a single repetitive motion can form CSI. Using muscles and joints to the point of fatigue can cause them to be overworked and can lead to a CSI.
- Incorrect or Static Posture: Repetitive standing or sitting positions can also cause CSIs as they put pressure on certain nerves, joints or blood vessels.
There are many types of Injuries that are considered CTI, and they happen during a variety of ways. Each type of injury is considered a CTI if it fits in the four medical categories of a cumulative traumatic injury. Some of the most common of these are:
- Tendonitis: Inflammation in the tendon caused when a muscle and tendon is used repeatedly which causes small trauma to the fibers in the tendon.
- Tenosynovitis:These occur when the sheath surrounding the tendons become irritated usually when the repetitive motion is caused by an unnatural motion.
- Rotator Cuff Injury: A type of tendonitis that is the most common shoulder tendon disorder. It happens in jobs where someone had to use the elbow in a position raised over the head.
- Golfer’s Elbow: An injury that occurs when a rapid movement of the tendons attached to the elbow. Common to golfers, but also to factory and construction workers.
- Tennis elbow: Similar to golfer’s elbow but the stress in on the tendons affected by a rapid overhand motion like throwing
- Trigger finger: This happens when the tendon sheath of a finger swells and becomes locked in the sheath. Typically, the ring and middle fingers get this when using certain tools that have hard edges or ridges.
- Bursitis: This is inflammation of the bursae sacs which are filled with fluid and can become inflamed. These are found in areas like shoulder, elbows and knees, although the most common is the elbow.
- Raynaud’s Syndrome: Also known “vibration white finger” and is caused by forceful gripping and long-term use of vibrating tools like hand-held power drills, saws, nail guns and other power tools.
- Thoracic outlet syndrome:Caused by the compression of nerves from the thoracic area of the spine (neck) from doing overhead tasks that require the neck to be bent in prolonged periods of time such as a mechanic.
Workers’ Compensations Issues
In a California Worker’s compensation claim, the burden is on the worker to prove the injury happened “out of and in the normal course of business.” This means that the person must be on the work site doing work-related things. When it comes to a repetitive injury, this can be difficult to prove just how the injury happened and what activities caused the injury.
The insurance company will often challenge the cause of injury and whether it was related to work activities.
Time of Injury
In a California workers’ compensation claim, the time and date of injury is one of the important factors that are necessary to prove that the injury is related to the person’s job and not something that occurred off site such as a recreation injury or work at another part time job.
However, under California law, there are two types of injuries that are compensable. An incident injury or a cumulative injury. The first is a typical injury sustained in an accident work and can be pinpointed to a specific incident that happened during work.
The other is a cumulative injury that occurs over time with repetitive activities. Because of this, once an injury is considered to by a CTI, then the date of injury is the date that that the worker noticed the injury.
What do I do if I Have a CTI?
Even though the law recognizes a CTI as a distinct type of Injury, this doesn’t stop the insurance company from challenging that is was related to their job. You need to talk to an attorney that knows how to establish that a CTI is related to your work.
This way, you can be given money for treatment, missed time from work and other benefits allowed under a workers’ compensation claim. If you are suffering a cumulative trauma injury, call the Law Office of Alice A. Strömbom who is experienced in repetitive injuries and can help you get the compensation you deserve for your work-related injury.