South Carolina Workers’ Compensation – Repetitive Trauma & Stress Injuries
By: Robert F. Goings
Repetitive Trauma Injuries Under South Carolina Workers’ Compensation
Does Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina cover a repetitive trauma injury? This is a frequently asked question because many employers or insurance companies will try to deny your workers compensation claim if it arises from repetitive trauma or repetitive stress. The common excuse is that injury was not caused on the job.
Repetitive trauma occurs over a period time. The injury is not caused by a single, specific event, but happens gradually as the result of repetitive motion, strain, pressure on a particular body part.
Repetitive trauma injuries can be covered under South Carolina Workers Compensation pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 42-1-172. Under South Carolina law, “Repetitive trauma injury” means an injury that is gradual in onset and caused by the cumulative effects of repetitive traumatic events. An injury is not considered a compensable repetitive trauma injury unless the Workers Compensation Commissioner makes a specific finding of fact by a preponderance of the evidence of a causal connection that is established by medical evidence between the repetitive activities that occurred while the employee was engaged in the regular duties of his employment and the injury. In order to meet this standard, “medical evidence” must be presented by expert opinion or testimony stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, documents, records, or other material that is offered by a licensed and qualified medical physician. This means that a qualified physician must state that the injuries were caused by the job duties.
Common Workplace Repetitive Trauma and Stress Claims
The number of workers suffering from a repetitive stress injury or disorder (RSD) is increasing mostly because of the increased use of computers in the workplace. Repetitive trauma now accounts for about 60% of all job-related injuries, and one in eight American workers has been diagnosed with an RSD at one time or another.
The most common form of repetitive trauma injury is carpel tunnel syndrome. Carpel tunnel syndrome can be caused by any job hazard, such as typing on the computer, repetitive use of tools such as hammers or screwdrivers. Carpel tunnel syndrome can lead to permanent and debilitating pain in your arms, wrists, and hands. Repetitive trauma can cause leg, neck and back injuries depending on the job duties. Without proper treatment, repetitive trauma can become irreversible and permanent.
The types of work-related activities that lend themselves to repetitive stress injuries include: Administrative and secretarial work, assembly line work, polishing, sanding, and painting, pipe setting, hammering, sawing and cutting, writing, driving, stocking shelves and packing, climbing, bending, massaging, playing musical instruments, or working in construction or as a mechanic.
Deadlines to File a Repetitive Trauma Claim for Workers’ Compensation
In order to properly file a claim for injuries arising for repetitive trauma, notice of the injury or condition must be given by the employee within 90 days of the date the employee discovered, or could have discovered by exercising reasonable diligence, that his condition is compensable, unless reasonable excuse is made to the satisfaction of the commission for not giving timely notice, and the commission is satisfied that the employer has not been unduly prejudiced thereby.
Compensation is barred unless a claim is filed with the commission within 2 years after the employee knew or should have known that his injury is compensable but no more than seven years after the last date of injurious exposure, regardless of whether the employee was aware that his repetitive trauma injury was the result of his employment.
Because of this strict standard, it is very important to act diligently in contacting a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney and reporting your injuries as soon as they begin.
Contact a Columbia Workers’ Compensation Attorney if you Are Suffering From A Repetitive Trauma Injury
If you are experiencing repetitive trauma or injuries from work, let us help you get the medical treatment and benefits that you deserve. Without the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, a repetitive trauma claim can be difficult to prove. Call this Columbia Workers’ Compensation law firm today at (803) 350-9230, or click here to fill out an online case evaluation form. There is no obligation or charge to see if we can help.