In Pennsylvania Workers Compensation, there are two specific type of injuries that are frequently litigated: traumatic injuries and repetitive injuries. So what is the difference and how do I tell which one I have?
A traumatic injury, or specific injury, is exactly what you envision as an injury. There is a specific event, such as lifting a heavy box, slipping and falling at work, getting into a fork lift accident, having a box fall on you, getting hit by equipment, etc… In other words, there was a very specific incident that caused your injury.
Repetitive injuries are different. Often times, an injured worker can’t point to an actual, specific event, but he/she knows that the work activities being performed, are causing pain. These types of injuries can be caused by performing highly repetitive activities, highly repetitive lifting, constant positioning issues, use of vibration and heavy tools, repetitive bending and twisting, and other ways of repetitive stress. We often see these types of injuries in warehouses and distribution centers, and distribution centers that have assembly lines. These injuries are certainly not limited to those modes of employment, but we often them in Central Pennsylvania because of the type of economy in our region. In the region we serve, warehouses and distribution centers are spread up and down the Interstate 81 Corridor from Greencastle to Chambersburg to Shippensburg to Carlisle, and beyond.
These repetitive stress injuries develop over time and can become quite painful and debilitating. Examples of these types of injuries are: carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, torn rotator cuff, “tennis elbow”, various tendonitis, various strains, herniated discs, and aggravation of otherwise asymptomatic pre-existing conditions, such as osteoarthritis.
These injuries are also more frequently litigated. There are various reasons for that. First, these injuries rarely have any witnesses. Second, employers do not like to admit and accept that their production processes are repetitive and can cause repetitive stress. Finally, many employers, since there was no specific incident, point to natural, pre-existing causes, rather than work specific causes.
Always remember, when you experience pain at work, and you believe it is from repetitive activity, report the pain and report it as work related. Tell your employer specifically what you are doing that is causing pain. Additionally, and most importantly, tell your doctor. Many times medical records will indicate that the injured worker did not mention a specific injury. And that is true. However, you need to tell your doctor that YOU believe YOUR PAIN is being caused by activities at work. Explain to your doctor what activities you do. Medical records are important. Have that discussion with your doctor that you feel that repetitive activities are causing you pain.
Repetitive injury cases are often complex. Timing of injuries, repetition of activities, job descriptions, medical diagnosis, notice, and many more issues cloud these cases. That is precisely why you should contact Mooney & Associates for a FREE CONSULTATION. We understand the complexities of these cases, successfully litigate these cases, and often times, settle these cases. Mooney & Associates has 15 offices spread throughout Central Pennsylvania, from Chambersburg and Greencastle in Franklin County, across the state to Lancaster. We will meet with you at the office most convenient for you. Additionally, we have expanded our workers compensation practice to now include Maryland workers compensation.