One of the biggest misunderstandings among California workers is not realizing that there are two different kinds of injuries a person can suffer while on the job. Our Santa Clarita workers’ compensation attorneys explain.
Specific Injuries vs. Cumulative Trauma
It is likely that you are already family with the first kind of work injury, in which a person, for instance, trips over a cord or falls down a flight of stairs. This is a “specific injury”—in other words, the injury can be traced to a specific event.
The less understood kind of work injury is called “continuous trauma” or “cumulative trauma.” Also sometimes known as a “repetitive motion” injury, probably the most common example of this is when a person has to do a lot of typing as part of their job which results in carpal tunnel syndrome in one or both wrists. Poor ergonomics at their workstation can also account for this type of work injury.
However, there are also people who do repetitive labor with their hands, back, or feet, such as auto mechanics, carpenters, and warehouse workers. Constant standing can also result in a continuous trauma injury—this often affects pharmacists, bank tellers, and security personnel.
All the people listed above have one thing in common: the job they do every day can have the cumulative effect of causing permanent impairment of one degree or another over a long period and are indeed compensable work injuries.
Other categories of continuous trauma would include:
- Bad or incorrect posture
- Chemical exposure
- Job stress or harassment
When to File a Claim for Repetitive Stress
There is a one-year statute of limitations on work injury claims in California. If you file your claim after this date, it will likely be denied.
For a specific injury, you have one year from the date of the incident to file your workers’ compensation claim.
For cumulative trauma, you have one year from the date of discovery to file your claim. This means that you must complete the necessary paperwork within one calendar year of becoming aware of your injury and its connection with your workplace. Generally, there’s no law that limits the time within which a cumulative trauma claim can occur.