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What Is Cumulative Trauma to A Worker?

The Law Office of Cezar J. Torrez May 2, 2023

Workers’ compensation coverage is crucial for those trying to support themselves or their family members. Without protection from job-related injuries and illnesses, workers would likely avoid professions with known safety risks, as they could potentially become unable to support themselves or their family members permanently.

People feel more comfortable accepting risky jobs because they can count on workers’ compensation insurance for disability benefits and medical coverage. Many workers claim benefits after getting hurt while on the clock because of a car crash or a slip-and-fall incident. There was a specific moment when something went wrong on the job, and they ended up hurt as a result. For such workers, getting benefits is often a relatively straightforward process.

Other workers may have serious medical conditions that directly result from their employment, but they don’t get hurt in a dramatic accident. Instead, they have slowly done damage to their bodies over time by performing the same job task for years. Cumulative trauma is a threat in any profession and could lead to sizable workers’ compensation claims.

What Is Cumulative Trauma?

When someone causes minor amounts of damage to their own body repeatedly over many days, months or years, they may eventually end up diagnosed with a cumulative trauma disorder. Sometimes, an individual suddenly experiences a manifestation of new symptoms that limit their strength or prevent them from performing certain job functions due to pain.

Other times, the symptoms themselves started long ago and have just worsened both in duration and intensity as the worker continued performing the same job. In both cases, a diagnosis with a cumulative trauma condition that you can directly relate to your employment will usually qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. Many kinds of back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome are both examples of cumulative trauma.

How Cumulative Trauma Affects Your Life

Obviously, if doing the same job task every day has caused an injury that affects your life and job performance, you need to rest your body to recover from that repetitive strain. You may also require surgery and physical therapy to reduce your symptoms.

In many cases, workers may need to seek alternate job responsibilities or drastically change how they perform job functions so that they do not continue to exacerbate their symptoms. Sometimes, companies are unable to accommodate a worker’s injuries, and they will need to move to lower-paying professions.

Cumulative trauma may necessitate both medical coverage for treatment through workers’ compensation and also disability benefits. There are short-term benefits for while someone is undergoing care and also long-term benefits for those unable to work or forced to change their jobs. Understanding that you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits based on cumulative trauma can help you file the appropriate paperwork to get the benefits you deserve.