Slape & Howard
Understanding Repetitive Use Injuries
More than 900,000 cases involving days away from work were reported in the U.S. private sector in 2018. 30% of those injuries — or nearly 273,000 cases — involved musculoskeletal disorders or “ergonomic injuries” involving repetitive use injuries.
Repetitive use injuries have long been prevalent in most blue-collar jobs due to the often repetitive nature of the work. Since the advent of computers in the workplace, such injuries have started to become common among white-collar workers as well. Repetitive use injuries can result in days or months away from work, with some severe cases resulting in permanent disability.
If you have developed an injury that you believe was caused by repetitive motion in your employment, you might be wondering if your injury qualifies you for workers compensation. Luckily, you do not have to navigate these challenges on your own.
For more than 35 years, our team at Slape & Howard has been helping clients suffering from repetitive stress and other workplace injuries in Wichita and throughout the state of Kansas. Over the years, the rights of workers to be compensated for work-related injuries have been curtailed. At Slape & Howard, we are dedicated to putting our extensive knowledge and experience to work for clients who deserve fair compensation. Our top priority is to fight for a more just workers compensation system — and we would be proud to help you with your case.
What is a Repetitive Use Injury?
Musculoskeletal disorders involve the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) involve musculoskeletal disorders that are often caused by recurrent use or improper use. Among the most prevalent repetitive stress injuries are:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Tennis Elbow (Epicondylitis)
- Ganglion Cysts
- Trigger Finger
Repetitive use injuries occur frequently in the hands, fingers, elbows, shoulders, wrists, and thumbs — however, they may also involve the back, neck, hips, knees, feet, legs, or ankles. Symptoms typically include site pain, site or radiating tingling, numbness, visible swelling or redness, or the loss of strength, range, and flexibility.
Those most at risk for repetitive use injuries work in factories, meatpacking plants, carpentry, gardening, sewing, use computers, or play certain sports such as tennis.
Can I File a Workers Compensation Claim for a repetitive use injury?
Workers compensation claims do not need to arise from a single incident, such as a fall from a ladder at a construction site. Although repetitive use injuries develop over time, they typically develop due to the repetitive nature of your job or because an employer has failed to provide its workers with the ergonomic support they need to avoid such injuries.
In order to successfully pursue a workers compensation claim, you will need to prove that the repetitive use injury was caused by the work you do and not by any hobbies, sports, or other activities you have recently participated in outside of work. A seasoned Kansas workers compensation attorney can help document the evidence you need to support a claim.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Claim?
Because repetitive use injuries don’t occur all at once but over time, it is extremely important to file a claim against your current or former employer in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the Kansas Workers Compensation Act provides only a very small window.
If you are filing a claim against your current employer, you must do so within 20 days of the first medical treatment you receive for your repetitive use injury. If you are filing a claim against a former employer, you must do so within 10 days of your last date of employment with them.
What Types of Benefits Can I Seek?
Depending upon the nature and extent of your injury, you can pursue two broad categories of benefits, Temporary Disability and Permanent Disability. In either category, your disability may be partial or total. In addition to payment for your medical treatment and rehabilitation from the date of your injury until you reach maximum medical improvement, your employer will be required to pay weekly benefits based on the level of disability, the number of weeks allowed, and your current wage.
Let Slape & Howard Answer All of Your Questions
Although it is true that the workers compensation process is designed to allow injured employees to navigate the process on their own, the employer and its insurer typically employ their own legal team to work against you. You need a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney who can stand toe to toe with them and fight for fair compensation.
Unfortunately, recent Kansas legislation has made it even more difficult for workers to successfully pursue workers compensation claims. Injuries must be reported appropriately. Claims must be in writing and conform to the information required under Kansas law under constrictive deadlines. Furthermore, the cumulative nature of a repetitive stress injury can cause timing and medical documentation challenges as you work to establish that the job itself was the prevailing cause of your injuries.
Without the services of an experienced workers compensation attorney advocating for you throughout the process, your claim may be denied before you even get the opportunity to really make your case.
Here at Slape & Howard, our experienced team of workers compensation attorneys has worked tirelessly for clients in Wichita and across the state of Kansas. We hold nothing back in our fight against a system that favors employers and insurance companies over the workers who deserve justice for the pain and suffering they’ve been forced to endure.
We believe in fighting for justice for you. Call or reach out to our office today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your workers compensation claim. Time is not on your side, but we can be. Don’t wait. Contact our firm today!