Cumulative Trauma California Workers Compensation Claims
In California, most workers are likely aware that they may file claims for benefits with their employers' workers' compensation insurance carriers if they are injured at work. While many people think about single incidents that result in injuries when they think about filing a workers compensation claim, work-related injuries and cumulative trauma are also compensable under the state's workers' compensation system. If you have developed an injury over time because of your job, an experienced workers' compensation attorney in Los Angeles may help you to recover benefits.What is Cumulative Trauma?
California is one of a minority of states that recognizes cumulative trauma in its workers' compensation system in Labor Code §3208.1. This refers to an injury that develops over time because of repetitive use or exposure. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a narrowing of the carpal tunnel in the wrist that happens over time because of such things as frequent typing or the use of certain handheld tools, is a type of CT. Others include chronic traumatic encephalopathy, chronic back and knee problems, hearing losses and industrial diseases that are caused by exposures such as certain types of cancer.Determining the Date of Injury
One issue with securing workers' compensation benefits for a trauma or disease that has occurred over time is proving the date of injury. While this is a straightforward process for people who are injured in single incidents, it is a more complex process for people whose injuries happened over time. Proving that an injury or disease is related to your job may require more extensive diagnostic tests and other medical documentation. Under Labor Code §5412, the date of injury for those of a cumulative nature is deemed to be the date that the condition first disabled the worker and when the worker either discovered or reasonably should have known that the injury was related to his or her employment.When two or More Injuries Combine to Cause a CT
There are some situations in which workers might suffer two or more injuries that would not be disabling in and of themselves but which, when combined, cause the worker to become disabled. The law recognizes this situation as being compensable as a CT. Under Labor Code §3208.2, the law provides that the disability that may be attributed to the two or more injuries will be apportioned between them for determining disability through workers' compensation.Statute of Limitations Considerations
One concern with CT injuries is the statute of limitations. In Ferguson v. City of Oxnard, 35 CCC 452(1970), the Workers Compensation Appeals Board ruled that the statute of limitations does not always start to run at the time of a worker's claim that he or she has been injured. The court found that since the law provides that the date of first disability can start the statute of limitations, it can be considered to begin at that time in the case of a CT injury.
In the case of CT injuries, this is important. In many cases, people may not discover their injuries for many years and even into retirement. In the case of CTs, the state has extended the statute of limitations to be one year from the date of your last treatment.Difficulties With CT Injury Claims
When people file workers' compensation claims for CT injuries, they are much likelier to be denied than when they file injury claims for injuries incurred in single accidents. This is because of the difficulty that people might have to prove that their CT injuries were caused by their job activities rather than by an unrelated factor or event outside of work. This makes it important to secure substantive medical documentation that clearly shows the link between your job and the development of your condition or injury over time.Potential Benefits From CT Injury Claims
Workers' compensation can offer several benefits to workers who have developed disabling CT injuries and conditions. Since these conditions may last for years or for your life, you may be able to access lifetime medical benefits to pay for all of your related medical bills and treatments. You may also be eligible for permanent disability payments or for temporary total disability benefits of up to $4,800 per month for up to two years or until you are able to return to your job.Why Getting Help From an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney is Important
If you have suffered a chronic or cumulative injury or condition that you believe is related to your current or former employment, it is best for you to seek help from an experienced workers' compensation lawyer in Los Angeles. An attorney may be able to secure the medical and diagnostic tests and to trace your injury or condition back to your job. This may help you to secure the benefits that you should be entitled to receive so that you can have an important financial safety net to meet your needs.