In Illinois, workers’ compensations do not have to involve work accidents. Any type of work injury can result in compensation so long as you can prove that it happened on the job. This could include injuries from repetitive motion that you perform on the job. Thus, not only can factory workers and construction laborers receive workers’ compensation, when they are injured while working but office workers may be eligible for it too.
The Causes of Repetitive Motion Injuries
You may be called on to perform the same duty many time a day at work. For example, you may work at a store and need to lift boxes on a daily basis. You could work at a factory and have to put take things off of a conveyor belt all day long. Alternatively, you might work in an office and need to use the keyboard and type every day, hurting your wrist. Even something as simple as using a computer mouse has the potential to cause you long-term injury.
When you repeatedly put stress on the same part of your body through overuse during a period of time, it can cause injury. Specifically, the problem happens when you overuse the muscles in your upper body. This can include your back, shoulders or even your wrists. It can be a temporary disability or even a permanent disability.
What Are Repetitive Motion Injuries?
Here are four examples of repetitive motion injuries that can impact Illinois workers experiencing work-related injuries:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – When the median nerve of your arm is pressured as it runs through your wrist, it can cause numbness and swelling that can restrict the use of your hands. This can be one of the most debilitating types of injuries.
- Bursitis – This is when the fluid sacs that protect your joints become inflamed. Specifically, you will get bursitis the most often in your shoulders, knees and elbows. It can also occur in other body parts.
- Back Strains – Those who stand on their feet all day or have to move heavy weights are more likely to suffer a back injury. Many of these injuries can require surgery or otherwise cause an employee to miss significant time from work.
- Tendonitis – This happens from overuse of the tendon during an activity. The tendon will become sore and inflamed. This can affect nearly any area of the body.
These are just a handful of examples of repetitive stress injuries. Any type of illness or injury that you have that can be tied to what you do at work on a daily basis should be sufficient to qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. These can result in significant medical expenses and other costs to you.
The Legal Basis for a Repetitive Motion Injury Workers’ Compensation Claim
Illinois Workers Compensation law is found at 820 ILCS 35. This is the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The law covers all injuries that were caused by the employee’s job duties and it even provides for coverage when there was a preexisting condition that was aggravated.
However, the IWCA does attach some strings to the benefits. Of importance here is that the injured worker is able to prove that their injury was caused by their job. When there is a workplace accident, this is an easy showing to make. When dealing with a repetitive motion injury, causation will be more of a challenge to prove.
What to Do When You Suspect that You Have a Repetitive Motion Injury
There are three primary things that you need to do if you think that you have a repetitive motion injury. Each of these three steps are vital to receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Get Medical Attention
One of the prerequisites for getting money from workers’ compensation is that you have been injured on the job. Thus, the first thing that you need to establish is that you have been injured.
If you start to feel any pain and you suspect that is in connection with your job duties, it is vital to set up a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible to be examined.
Your doctor may diagnose your condition. It is important to make sure that the diagnosis is documented because this is what you will need to present along with your claim for benefits. Without a documented injury, there will not be any workers’ compensation benefits.
Notify Your Employer of Repetitive Motion Injuries and Other Occupational Diseases
820 ILCS 305/6 contains a requirement for notifying the employer of the accident. Specifically, the law says that “notice of the accident shall be given to the employer as soon as practicable, but no later than 45 days after the accident.”
With a repetitive motion injury, there is no one accident that causes it. Nonetheless, you will need to notify your employer of the injury. You should consider the time you learned of the injury to start the clock on your notification requirement.
If you do not give your employer the required notice, your claim could be turned down. This may mean that you will not receive payment for lost work, medical bills and the vocational rehabilitation that you need to get back to work.
Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Help Get Payment for Your Workplace Injury
Many companies will fight workers’ compensation claims because it will raise their costs of doing business, specifically in higher costs for their workers’ compensation insurance. They may be even more inclined to oppose your request for your workers’ comp claim for a repetitive motion injury. Your employer has the right to participate in the process and can try to stop you from getting benefits even though they do not have the final say.
This is why you need an attorney to represent you throughout the process when you have a work-related injury. The workers’ compensation attorney would help you put together your claim, including the necessary documentation.
Repetitive motion injury claims are not as easy to win as workplace accident claims, but there is certainly a possibility that you can win if you are able to show that your job duties were the cause of your injury. You can expect that your employer will fight you when you try to claim these disability benefits, so you must be prepared for this contingency in your comp case.
What is helpful about these benefits is that, not only will they pay you for time you missed from work, but workers’ compensation will also pay for the rehabilitation that you need to get back to work.