You probably know that you can file for workers’ compensation benefits after a serious work-related injury, like a slip and fall in the workplace or an accident on a construction site. What happens if your work injury did not happen all at once, though, but instead happened gradually over time? Can you still get workers’ comp?
Repetitive Stress Injuries & Workers’ Comp
A repetitive stress injury (RSI) occurs over time by repeating the same motion or action again and again. When an RSI develops due to a work-related task, workers’ compensation should become available to the injured worker because it is still an injury suffered in the scope of employment. To this end, if you have gradually suffered a worsening injury while working, and now it is stopping you from working safely or at all, then you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
RSIs commonly associated with work include:
- Back pain: Workers who complete manual labor throughout their shifts run the risk of developing back pain. A subtle ache might be the first sign of a problem, which some people ignore. However, in the future, the ache can worsen into a sharp debilitating pain that stops work altogether. Even sitting in a nonergonomic chair for 8 hours a day in an office can cause serious back problems with time.
- Foot injuries: Many jobs require workers to stay on their feet and move around all day, like a retail worker, food service professional, and so on. Like with back pain, a foot injury can start as soreness that seems like it is safe to overlook because nothing feels broken or seriously injured. But the injury can worsen a little more with each shift, culminating in a debilitating foot pain that affects mobility.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Fine dexterous manipulation for long hours on end can cause injury to the hands, wrist, and fingers. Office workers who use keyboards and medical professionals who must use small medical instruments are the most at risk for such injuries. One of the worst hand-related RSIs is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is caused by inflamed tendons pinching nerves in the hands, resulting in pain, numbness, and a loss of fine hand control.
- Eye strain: Another repetitive stress injury that an office worker might experience is eye strain. Looking at a lit computer screen for many hours in a day can irritate the eyes and the muscles that help them look around. Eye strain can last for days or longer in severe cases, which might make a worker with diagnosable eye strain qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
RSI Workers’ Comp Claims in Illinois
Workers’ compensation insurance policies sometimes make no mention of repetitive stress injuries in their text. Insurers might be tempted to use this lapse in clarification to deny an injured worker the benefits that they need to comfortably recover. In other situations, an insurance company might acknowledge that RSIs are covered by its policy, but then demand to see more evidence that links the claimant’s injury to their job. For workers who are unprepared for this pushback, it could jeopardize their chances of getting workers’ compensation benefits.
Our attorneys at McHargue & Jones, LLC are here to help any worker in any industry within Chicago and the greater Cook County area. If you have to file a workers’ comp claim for an RSI, or if an insurance company or employer is already giving you difficulties with your claim, then get us on your side right away. Please contact us online as soon as you can to learn more about our legal services and how they can help.