Injuries that develop from work related activities over the course of time are compensable injuries under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. These injuries are commonly referred to as a “repetitive use claims” (e.g. carpal tunnel from repetitive upper extremity work duties, low back pain caused by breakdown of the spinal structures due to repetitive exertional activities like lifting, bending, carrying, etc.) As the name suggests, repetitive use work injuries develop from the cumulative effect of days, weeks, and often years of stressing and utilizing the human body resulting in the breakdown of the body’s structure causing pain and disability. This is in contrast to the sudden, acute injury where impairment and disability are immediately obvious (e.g. work-related amputation of an arm or leg).
Like all other work related injuries, the injured worker must place his employer on notice of his repetitive use work injury within 120 days of sustaining injury. Repetitive use claims have an added wrinkle in that the 120 day reporting deadline may not begin until the “last date of exposure” or in other words, the last date on which the injured worker was engaging in the repetitive use work activities accounting for his condition. Some might call this “the straw that broke the camel’s back” event. Employers and insurance carriers will defend against these types of cases aggressively claiming that the injured worker long knew of his work injury and failed to report it promptly. If successful, such an argument will cost the injured work significant benefits or potentially cause the claim to be dismissed in full.
Repetitive injury cases often carry additional complexities when multiple employers, multiple insurance carriers, and multiple injury dates are involved. These variables will impact upon determining which entity is responsible to pay work injury benefits and at which rate.
Lastly, medical records and medical documentation are at the heart of every work injury case. In repetitive use cases past medical history including family doctor, emergency room, and urgent care records will be closely scrutinized by lawyers for both sides of the case to determine whether or not workers’ compensation benefits are owed.
If you’ve sustained injuries through repetitive use work activities it is important to have your case evaluated promptly by an attorney specializing in work injury claims. It may be possible that your legal window to advance your claim is closing fast. Protect your rights and have your potential case reviewed today.