Can I Get Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries?

June 28, 2024
Stern & Cohen
Carpal tunnel from typing

Absolutely. Any injury suffered from a work-related accident is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in Pennsylvania. As long as the repetitive stress injury occurred within the course and scope of your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation.

What is a Repetitive Stress Injury?

A repetitive stress injury occurs when a person performs the same motion repeatedly, eventually leading to temporary or permanent damage to muscles, nerves, and tendons. Continuous repetition without sufficient healing time can exacerbate these injuries.

Many people believe that workers’ compensation is only for one-time injuries at work, but that is not the case. Injuries caused by repetitive motions, even if they begin as minor discomforts, can develop into significant conditions over time. The critical factor to prove is that the injury occurred within the course and scope of employment.

Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries can affect various parts of the body, including hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, elbows, forearms, knees, and lower back. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, numbness, cramping, weakness, or throbbing, resulting from damage to tendons, nerves, ligaments, or muscles.

One of the most well-known repetitive stress injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition occurs when the median nerve along the wrist, forearm, and hand becomes compressed due to inflammation or swollen tendons and ligaments. It is common in individuals who work with computers or perform repetitive tasks.

Tendinitis is another prevalent repetitive stress injury, occurring when tendons connected to bones become injured from overuse. By doing the same job or motion repeatedly, initial injuries may not have enough time to heal, leading to further damage.

Repetitive Stress Injuries and Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, a person must prove a causal connection between the injury and their job duties. In repetitive injury cases, this connection may not be as obvious as in a one-time work accident. To receive workers’ compensation benefits, medical testimony from doctors must indicate that the injury occurred within the course and scope of employment. Both sides will present medical evidence, and a Workers’ Compensation Judge will determine if there is sufficient proof to demonstrate this causal connection.

Types of Occupations Where Repetitive Stress Injuries are Most Common

Repetitive stress injuries are common in various professions. Here are some examples:

  • Office Workers: Prolonged sitting, extensive keyboard and mouse use, and using outdated equipment can lead to overuse injuries.
  • Trade Jobs: Electricians, construction workers, and plumbers often perform tasks involving bending, standing, or sitting in awkward positions, lifting heavy loads, and repetitive motions, affecting the back, arms, or shoulders.
  • Medical Workers: Healthcare professionals frequently stand for long shifts and lift patients, increasing the risk of repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel from extensive typing on computers or tablets.
  • Janitors and Housekeeping Staff: Constant mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, and lifting heavy trash bags can negatively impact posture and lead to shoulder and back problems.
  • Bus Drivers: Prolonged sitting, steering, and gripping the steering wheel can cause back pain, shoulder issues, and carpal tunnel.

Next Steps

If you believe you have suffered a repetitive stress injury due to your job duties, notify your employer and seek medical treatment immediately. Medical professionals can provide necessary documentation to support your workers’ compensation claim.

An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, like the team at Stern & Cohen, can help you obtain the benefits you are entitled to under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. If you have experienced a repetitive stress injury from a work-related accident, contact us for a free consultation.