Yes, workers in North Carolina have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for repetitive motion or repetitive stress injuries that occur on the job.
When thinking of on-the-job injuries that leave people unable to work, most people consider accidents, such as a fall from a scaffolding or a mishap involving heavy equipment on a job site. Single traumatic events can have serious consequences. But a repetitive stress injury (RSI) or repetitive motion injury, which occurs gradually, also may cause a serious injury that requires medical treatment and time off to recover.
A workers’ compensation insurer may dispute the idea that your repetitive stress injury occurred on the job and deny your claim for benefits. You have a right to appeal that decision. In the Tar Heel State, injured employees file work-related injury claims with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which decides disputed claims.
Repetitive Stress Injuries at Work
A repetitive stress injury or repetitive motion injury occurs when performing the same action over and over causes stress and strain that eventually results in injury. Repetitive stress injuries result from an action that would not typically be harmful to a worker’s health, such as typing on a keyboard, standing for long periods, working on a production line, using hand tools, or lifting objects hundreds of times per day.
These small movements when performed all day can eventually take a toll on the body of the employee. Some common repetitive stress injuries include the following:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Caused by compression of the median nerve
- Bursitis: Occurs when the cushions between your bones, muscles, and tissue become inflamed
- Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendon, which attaches muscle to bone
- Rotator cuff injuries: A tear in the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint
Many people assume that these issues are just part of the job or are too insignificant to seek help. This idea could not be further from the truth. Repetitive motion injuries sustained on the job can have a significant consequences on your health and ability to work.
If your employer disputes your right to receive paid medical treatment for a repetitive motion injury, an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you pursue a claim in North Carolina. Some employers try to dismiss these injuries as too commonplace to be taken seriously. But you are entitled to paid medical care and other benefits if your repetitive motion injury occurred on the job.
It is important to get medical care for an injury that could become more serious over time.
Seeking Compensation for a Repetitive Stress Injury
Once you discover that a work-related task caused the pain you are experiencing, it is important to follow certain steps when filing for workers’ compensation. Every state has different procedures, forms, and deadlines that injured workers must follow for their claim to be considered.
Keep the following guidelines in mind as you seek workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina:
- Notify your employer of your injury in writing within 30 days. Make sure you have documented proof that your employer was made aware of your injury within 30 days of its occurrence. Your notification can be simple, but be sure to include the date, a description of your injury, and when the injury occurred. Keep a copy of the notification letter for your records.
- Tell the doctor that your injury occurred on the job. Your health care provider will be able to bill your treatment as a workers’ compensation claim when they are informed of its cause. Letting your doctor know the cause of your injury and the name of your employer will ensure that your bills are filed correctly, and your case is documented.
- If you are starting the claims process yourself, you will need to file a Form 18, but it is also possible for your employer to report your injury to the state. Either way, make sure you file the correct forms within two years of the date of injury.
Reporting a workers’ compensation injury can be confusing, especially if your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance administrator is disputing your claim. A knowledgeable attorney can answer your questions and guide you in the right direction if you need assistance pursuing a repetitive strain injury compensation claim.
Proving Your RSI
Most RSIs are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which means they affect muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. These types of disorders account for one in three worker injury and illness cases, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Despite how common these injuries are, it can be difficult to prove a work-related RSI. Demonstrating the following will help your case as you attempt to prove your repetitive motion injury:
- Numbness, tingling, or other uncomfortable sensations
- Loss of mobility or strength in the affected area
- Ongoing medical care for job-related pain
It is often difficult for individuals suffering from RSIs to deal with the stress of fighting for workers’ compensation benefits. Claims may be initially denied by the insurance company for seemingly insignificant reasons.
This delay in receiving financial compensation adds to the stress, pain, and frustration you are already experiencing. If you are having difficulty obtaining benefits, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can help collect documents, records, and medical evidence to support your case.
Get the Assistance You Need
The attorneys at Hardison & Cochran have years of experience helping injured workers across North Carolina. We believe that injured workers should receive all the on-the-job injury benefits afforded by North Carolina law so that they can recover and resume productive lives.
We have three North Carolina Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law ready to put our knowledge and experience to work for you. If you have sustained a repetitive motion injury or RSI on the job and are having difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation, contact us at 800-434-8399 for assistance with your claim today.