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Workers’ Compensation and Repetitive Stress Injuries

Hispanic Worker Experiencing Back Pain

When people think about workers’ compensation, typically what comes to mind are catastrophic injuries such as losing a hand to a machine or falling off of a ladder. While these types of workplace accidents are common and certainly merit compensation, not all workplace injuries happen as the result of a big accident or one-time severe trauma. Some workplace injuries happen subtly over time, but they are no less debilitating and no less meritorious of compensation. In fact, around 20 percent of all workplace injuries are not from accidents. Read on for a discussion of how California law approaches repetitive stress injury in the workplace, and consult with a dedicated Southern California workers’ compensation attorney if you need help with a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of yourself or a loved one.

What is Repetitive Stress Injury?

Overuse or repetitive motions can cause cumulative trauma over time, leading to repetitive stress injury (RSI). Repetitive motion or overuse of muscles, tendons, or bones can put a strain on those body parts, causing pain over time and leading to limited functionality and even disability. RSI can affect office workers who develop wrist and finger pain or back pain from hunching over desks as well as factory or construction workers who strain their neck, back, shoulders, or knees from lifting, carrying and moving objects every day.

Some of the more common types of RSI include:

● Carpal tunnel syndrome (typically in the wrists or hands)
● Tendonitis (typically in the elbow or knee)
● Bursitis (typically in the shoulder, elbow, or hip)
● Shoulder injuries, such as rotator cuff
● Back strain from repeated lifting, hunching, twisting or bending
● Vibration injuries in your fingers and hands

Be on the lookout for any symptoms of RSI. If you are experiencing sustained pain (including tenderness and dull aches as well as throbbing or acute pain), tingling, numbness, loss of strength or coordination, or reduced range of motion or flexibility in a body part you activate at the workplace every day, you may have RSI. See a doctor immediately. Without treatment, the condition can worsen, leading to long-term illness and disability.

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Repetitive Stress?

Repetitive stress may not be the flashiest type of workplace injury, but it is a workplace injury nonetheless. If left untreated, RSI can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, loss of strength, and, ultimately, an inability to work. California law requires that workers’ compensation insurance cover you for any workplace-generated illness or injury, including repetitive stress. So long as you can demonstrate that your RSI was directly related to your occupation, your employer and their insurer must cover you.

If you believe you may be suffering from RSI, report the pain, injury, or other symptoms to your employer immediately. You should then see a doctor to diagnose and treat your injury. The longer you delay, the worse your problem may become, and the harder it may be to claim that the injury resulted from work as opposed to other activities unrelated to work. A seasoned workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the treatment you need and the insurance coverage you deserve. Because repetitive stress injuries happen over time, they can be harder to prove. Your California workers’ compensation lawyer is here to ensure that you have the strongest claim possible and that your bills get paid.


If you have a claim for workers’ compensation and want to make sure you get the maximum available coverage, call Invictus Law today at 949-287-5711, and speak with an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your claims.

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