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Repetitive trauma injuries, or repetitive stress disorder injuries, are covered by workers’ compensation insurance in SC when the injury is caused by an employee’s work duties.
Employers and their insurance companies may attempt to deny coverage for repetitive stress injuries (they will attempt to deny coverage whenever possible for any type of injury), but your SC workers’ compensation lawyer can help you to establish coverage by gathering and presenting medical testimony that 1) you suffer from a repetitive trauma injury and 2) the injury was caused by your work duties and happened in the workplace.
Below, we will discuss:
We usually think of workplace injuries as a sudden event that injures a person – falling off a ladder, getting your hand caught in a machine, or a broken arm, for example.
Repetitive trauma injuries are different – they happen gradually, over time. Repetitive stress disorders develop because of repeated stress on a part of the body that results in injury. When that repeated stress is caused by someone’s work duties, like typing, bending over, twisting, lifting, or climbing stairs or ladders, it should be compensable under SC workers’ comp laws.
Although carpal tunnel syndrome is the one most people are familiar with, many different types of repetitive trauma injuries are caused by work conditions, all caused by repeated actions using the same body part causing damage to nerves, muscles, and tendons.
Common types of repetitive trauma injuries in the workplace include:
Repetitive trauma injuries may affect the wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders, hands, feet, back, or hips. They tend to worsen over time, and, depending on the type of repetitive trauma injury suffered, the symptoms may include:
Repetitive trauma injuries can result in permanent soft tissue damage in some cases and should be treated immediately.
Any job that requires a person to perform the same task repeatedly with the same arm, hand, leg, or other body part can result in a repetitive stress injury. It doesn’t matter if the objects moved are heavy or lightweight – a stationary body position + repeated movement can result in a repetitive stress disorder.
Types of jobs that often require this type of repeated motion include:
Workers in any industry that requires repetitive movements of the limbs, carrying, lifting, use of vibrating tools, or regularly placing pressure on one muscle or joint are at a greater risk of repetitive trauma injuries in the workplace.
Repetitive trauma injuries are covered by workers’ compensation insurance in SC – they are expressly covered in SC’s workers’ comp laws and the SC Supreme Court has confirmed that workers’ comp insurers must pay benefits for repetitive stress disorders caused by workplace conditions.
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:
An injury is not considered a compensable repetitive trauma injury unless a commissioner makes a specific finding of fact by a preponderance of the evidence of a causal connection that is established by medical evidence between the repetitive activities that occurred while the employee was engaged in the regular duties of his employment and the injury.
Also, under SC Code § 42-1-160(F), a covered “accident” can be defined as “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…”
In 2002, in Pee v. AVM, the SC Supreme Court confirmed that repetitive trauma injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, are compensable under the SC Workers Compensation Act as an “accident by injury.”
If you have an on-the-job 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, and file any necessary appeals.
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