Injuries Over Time
While the workers’ compensation law speaks about on-the-job injuries and requires claimants to provide a “date of accident” you may have an injury that did not happen at a specific time but is the result of wear and tear over a long period of time.
Carpal tunnel injuries arising from repetitive hand/wrist motion are the most common type of gradual injury over time, but I have represented clients with back injuries, knee injuries and shoulder injuries that occurred not with a single accident event but, instead, became disabling over months or even years.
Gradual injuries can be tricky in that you may not have realized that tasks you perform at work have caused damage. Perhaps you have treated with your family doctor or been referred to a specialist outside of the workers’ compensation system. Interestingly I find that sometimes these “outside” doctors are the ones who suggest to my client that their injury is, in fact, a work injury.
If you have treated with an “outside” doctor, you can be sure that the workers’ compensation insurance company will carefully scrutinize those medical records to see if you mentioned work at all. Given the issues that are likely to arise, I would encourage you to call me to discuss how to best report your gradual injury as a work injury.
Generally, when I do advise my clients about reporting a gradual injury, we choose as a date of injury a date when my client recognized that his condition had deteriorated to the point where he could not perform his job. This date serves as your “date of injury” for workers’ compensation purposes.
I always think very carefully about the date I recommend as the “date of injury” for medical problems that reveal themselves over time. As discussed on this web site, notice of the injury must be provided to your employer within 30 days after the injury, and what you may or may not have reported to a treating physician is also very important.
If you believe that your gradual onset injury may in fact be a medical problem that should be covered by workers’ compensation, please call me to discuss.