What’s The Difference Between Acute And Cumulative Injuries?
For the most part, worker compensation is associated with acute injuries, such as falls, falling object injuries or cuts. However, worker compensation recognizes two types of injuries: acute and cumulative. As their names suggest, acute injuries are the ones mentioned above. They occur just once and all the damage is sustained at once. Cumulative injuries are far more sinister, however. These injuries occur over an extended period of time, which makes them harder to diagnose, harder to pinpoint and harder to prove when it comes to worker compensation claims. An example of a cumulative injury is the carpal tunnel syndrome. This article is largely devoted to the cumulative injuries and issues associated with them.
What to do with acute injuries?
If you have sustained an acute injury, your path towards worker compensation is far more straightforward. Here are the steps you need to follow. The reason is that these injuries have an easily established time and place of occurrence. What you need to do is immediately inform your employer that an injury has occurred. After that is done, visit your doctor to start the process. If this is the case with you, you may not need to hire a work comp lawyer.
What about cumulative injuries?
The situation with cumulative injuries is much less clear-cut, however. The main issue with them is that it is nearly impossible to determine the exact time the injury occurred because it does not exist. Rather than that, the workplace conditions gradually deteriorate the condition until it becomes noticeable and starts creating problems. If you work at a computer, you may not feel any discomfort for a long time, but over time you may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a cumulative injury from the position your hands are in for the majority of the day. The same thing applies to your eyesight, which may be affected by looking at a computer screen for 8 hours or more a day. Manual laborers are also susceptible to this kind of injury. Joints may not be affected in short term by heavy lifting, but over time, the cartilage does waste away, and they may experience painful joint problems. There are numerous other examples, too.
So, what’s the problem?
There is more than one problem. For a start, since there is no exact time and place you can point to as the moment the injury occurred, you may have a hard time getting worker compensation. Insurance companies are very strict about the data they ask for, and time and place of the injury are fairly high on that list. This is why worker compensation lawyers exist. They are experts at helping people who are lost in the red tape.
Your biggest problem, however, can be proving causality. You need to be able to show that the workplace conditions led to the medical condition you have. Cumulative injuries are somewhat tricky since they could have just as easily have been caused by the environmental conditions at your home or some other place. If your employer or insurance company refuse to pay you the compensation you are entitled to, this is the likely reason they will cite. These people believe that these injuries do not belong in the worker compensation packages, but fortunately, legislation is on the side of the worker.
If you have been denied worker compensation for this reason, contact a good worker compensation lawyer to look at your case and hopefully get you the money you are entitled to.