Repetitive trauma injuries occur over time as a result of repetitive movements. An example of a repetitive trauma injury is the carpal tunnel syndrome that grocery checkers, typists and court reporters get from constantly performing the same repetitive motion, day in and day out, with their hands.
When to Report a Repetitive Trauma Injury:
If an employee is having pain while performing repetitive on-the-job tasks, he or she should report the problem to the employer. No more than 45 days should elapse before reporting the injury to the employer.
Medical Treatment and Temporary Total Disability Benefits:
The employer should refer the employee to a doctor, and if the doctor declares that the employee cannot work, the insurance carrier for the employer should begin paying temporary total disability benefits.
Sometimes, a doctor may send an injured employee back to work even though the employee’s repetitive trauma injuries necessitate rest. Or maybe the employer denies the injury. In any event, when the employee begins having problems with the employer or their Workers’ Compensation carrier, it is time to retain an attorney.
What Can an Attorney Do?
A Workers’ Compensation attorney will contact the employer and the insurance carrier. If the employer and/or the carrier are resistant to providing treatment or benefits to the injured worker, the attorney will file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Every three months, the case will go before an arbitrator. If there are outstanding issues in the case, the attorney for the injured worker or the attorney for the insurance company can request a trial to have the arbitrator resolve the issue.
In Illinois, attorneys are strongly encouraged to move their cases along. If not, the arbitrator may dismiss the case. It is in the interests of the attorneys to keep their cases progressing through the system.
The purpose of the Workers’ Compensation system is to provide the injured employee with a solution. At the end of a case, a settlement is presented to the arbitrator and all parties in the case. This is to compensate the injured worker for permanent disability resulting from the work injury.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits:
If an injured worker has permanent disability resulting from his or her injury and is able to work in another job at a rate of pay less than his or her salary prior to the injury, the injured worker may be entitled to a wage differential that will bring the worker’s wages up to two-thirds of the amount that the new position is paying and the amount of wages at the old job.
An injured worker should retain an attorney for the following reasons:
Not getting temporary total disability benefits.
Employer/Insurance Carrier denial of injury.
Inadequate medical care to cure or relieve the work injury.
The Workers’ Compensation system is complicated, and injured workers are encouraged to retain attorneys.