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Repetitive Motion Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina

Repetitive Motion Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Repetitive motion injuries are common on-the-job injuries that are covered by workers’ comp insurance in South Carolina.

In most cases, workers’ comp coverage is limited to 1) injuries caused by an accident 2) while on the job, and accident implies a single traumatic event. Repetitive motion injuries are included, even though they are caused by a series of traumatic events instead of a single accident.

In this article, we will look at repetitive motion injuries and SC workers’ comp laws, including:

  • What a repetitive motion injury is,
  • Some common types of repetitive motion injuries that are covered by workers’ comp,
  • Diagnosing repetitive motion injuries, and
  • An explanation of why repetitive motion injuries are covered under SC’s workers’ comp laws.

What are Repetitive Motion Injuries?

Repetitive motion injuries are caused by repeated motions over time. Any job duty that requires a repeated task with the same body part – arm, leg, wrist, finger, or foot, it doesn’t matter – can result in a repetitive motion injury.

For example:

  • Typing on a keyboard in an office setting,
  • Filing documents,
  • Operating a machine using your hand/arm or foot repeatedly,
  • Assembly line work,
  • Driving a truck or delivery vehicle,
  • Using a hammer,
  • Painting, or
  • Stocking shelves in a grocery store.

Any repetitive movements of a body part, pushing, pulling, carrying, lifting, using vibrating tools, or repeatedly placing pressure on one body part can result in a repetitive motion injury over time.

Common Types of Repetitive Motion Injuries

Some of the more common types of repetitive motion injuries that happen in the workplace include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome– tingling, numbness, weakness, and pain in the wrist, hand, fingers, or arm caused by repeated pressure on the “median nerve” which runs through the wrists into the hands.
  • Bursitis – inflammation of a bursa sac. Bursa sacs are found in the elbows, knees, and hips and serve to cushion the area where tendons connect to a bone. Bursitis can result in pain, redness, swelling, and loss of the ordinary range of motion in the affected area.
  • Gunyon syndrome – hand and wrist pain including weakness, pain, and numbness in the ring and pinky fingers.
  • Tendonitis – inflammation of the tendon, often occurring in the shoulder, biceps, or elbow, tendonitis is also referred to as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, or rotator cuff pain.
  • Myofascial pain syndrome – chronic pain caused by pressure on “trigger points” in the muscles that can cause persistent, deep, aching pain and knots in the muscle.
  • Tenosynovitis – inflammation of the lubricating sheath that surrounds the tendon where the tendon connects to a bone.
  • Cervical radiculopathy – also called a “pinched nerve,” this is caused by damage to the spinal column’s discs. A “herniated disc” can push out into the spinal canal, putting pressure on nerve roots and causing pain and weakness in the affected area. It can be caused by pulling, lifting, bending, or twisting movements.

Diagnosing Repetitive Motion Injuries Caused by Job Duties

To get workers’ compensation coverage for a repetitive motion injury, you will need to prove through medical evidence that the injury was caused by your job duties – this is why it is critical that you seek medical attention as soon as you recognize the signs of a repetitive motion injury and document 1) the fact that you are injured, 2) the effect of the injury on your everyday life and your ability to perform your job duties, and 3) that the injury was caused by your job duties.

Another reason to immediately seek medical attention when you recognize the signs and symptoms of a repetitive motion injury is that these injuries can result in permanent damage if they are not treated.

If your job requires you to make repeated movements, try to vary the body parts used and take appropriate breaks from the movement to prevent repetitive motion injuries, and be on the lookout for symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness, redness, swelling, stiffness, or weakness in the affected body parts.

Coverage for Repetitive Motion Injuries Under SC Workers’ Comp Laws

In most cases, “accident,” for purposes of SC workers’ compensation coverage, means a single, traumatic event like falling from a roof or crashing a forklift. It does not mean a series of events.

SC Code § 42-1-160(F) provides an exception for repetitive motion injuries, however, and says that “accident” can mean “a series of events in employment, of a similar or like nature, occurring regularly, continuously, or at frequent intervals in the course of such employment, over extended periods of time,” when it results in a “compensable repetitive trauma pursuant to Section 42-1-172 or an occupational disease…”

SC Code § 42-1-172 defines “repetitive trauma” as “an injury which is gradual in onset and caused by the cumulative effects of repetitive traumatic events,” and provides for workers’ comp coverage when the injury is connected to the employee’s job duties by medical evidence.

The SC Supreme Court has also held, in Pee v. AVM, that repetitive trauma injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are compensable under the SC Workers Compensation Act as an “accident by injury.”

Got Axelrod?

If you have an on-the-job repetitive motion injury in SC, the Myrtle Beach Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Axelrod and Associates can help you to determine whether your injuries meet the definition of “injury” and “accident” under SC’s workers’ compensation laws, file your claim, gather and present your medical evidence to the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and file any necessary appeals.

Call now at 843-353-3449 or send us a message online to set up a free consultation with a SC workers’ compensation lawyer today.

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