Episode 31: Murray Kentucky personal injury attorney Jeff Roberts discusses cumulative trauma injuries, also called repetitive use injuries. It’s a common issue in workers’ compensation claims, especially for people who work on assembly lines and in light manufacturing.
Some people just assume the aches and pains they feel are from normal wear and tear. However, if you use the same repetitive motions to perform your job duties, there’s a chance you may have a cumulative trauma injury. Shoulders can wear down if you have to constantly lift items over your head. Carpal tunnel can develop if someone types a lot. Elbow and wrist injuries can occur for people repeatedly twisting or tightening bolts or other parts of an assembly.
Employees at Pella Corporation in Calloway County have numerous assembly operations that may expose them to common, cumulative trauma injuries if those motions are repeated over a period of years. This can also include lower back injuries from lifting or moving parts.
Jeff has represented several workers who were injured while working at the General Motors Corvette plant in Bowling Green, KY.
Fully Explain Your Pain
If you experience pain and go to a doctor for a checkup, this could be diagnosed as pain related to aging, such as arthritis or some other degenerative condition. It’s important to explain the type of work you do, because there is a chance your work activities have accelerated the deterioration and have resulted in a workplace injury. Jeff spoke extensively about this in Episode 30 of his podcast.
The Saputo Dairy plant in Murray, Kentucky is another example of a company with repetitive motion activities, which can also lead to cumulative trauma injuries.
It may be your doctor who actually points out that your pain and discomfort might be a result of your work activities. If so, you should notify your employer that you have a Kentucky workers’ compensation claim for a work-related injury.
You Have the Right to Pick Your Own Doctor
Under Kentucky workers’ compensation law, you do not have to see a company doctor. You may see a company nurse immediately following your injury, but you still have the right to see a doctor of your choice. Sometimes, a physician who has a close referral relationship with a specific company might attempt to minimize the extent of your injury. This helps the company reduce medical costs and expenses related to workers’ comp claims. If this happens, you may not be receiving the best medical treatment for your situation.
In Jeff’s experience handling workers’ compensation cases for over 25 years, he feels a “company doctor” may be less inclined to properly diagnose a cumulative trauma injury. It’s the subjective opinions that can often go in the company’s favor, rather than benefitting the injured worker.
Hand tools, power tools and air tools often have certain levels of vibration, which can accelerate the damage to the joints and nerves. Jeff has had multiple doctors express this opinion. Again, it’s not that the use causes an immediate sensation of pain. With these types of injuries, the pain worsens or aches more over time. This is often a sign of a repetitive motion injury. Many companies have begun implementing job rotation to minimize these injuries.
Are Cumulative Trauma Claims Worth Less Money?
No. A workplace injury is a workplace injury. The TTD benefits an injured worker receives are based on the severity of the injury and a formula related to his/her average weekly wage. It’s the same regardless of whether the injury occurs from a specific accident, cumulative trauma or occupational disease, etc.
Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The office phone number is (270) 753-0053. For more information, visit www.JeffRobertsLaw.com. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.