Repetitive and Cumulative Trauma
You do not have to have a distinct incident to have a Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim. Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claims can be for a new injury, a recurrence, an aggravation of a pre-existing condition or be a result of doing the same work tasks over and over again (Repetitive Trauma) causing pain and disability. One example is a carpal tunnel syndrome claims. However, repetitive trauma injuries can occur to any part of the body. Many Employees suffer repetitive trauma injuries from performing work activities to their knees, shoulders, and backs. Another example of a repetitive trauma injury would be a laborer working with a jack hammer every day that develops pain in his shoulder, back and/or arms from running the jack hammer every day. Employers deny many of these claims stating that there was not a distinct incident. This is improper. It is important that injured workers provide immediate notice to their employer of work causing pain and seek immediate medical treatment. When seeing a medical provider, the injured work must provide the Medical Provider the history of the work activities that caused and continues to cause the pain.
The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court on October 16, 2013, ruled in the case of A&J Builders, Inc vs. WCAB (Verdi), that an injured worker was entitled to Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Benefits from suffering a repetitive trauma injury to his right knee. The court further found that the injured worker was only obligated to provide notice of his work injury to his Employer when he learned from a Doctor that there was a connection between his right knee pain and his work duties. This is referred to as the “Discovery Rule.” The court further reaffirmed that an injured worker must provide notice within 120 days from his/her last day of work prior to disability. However, there is an exception to this general rule, when an injured worker does not know his disability is related to work. Once an injured worker is aware that his/her disability is related to work, the 120 day notice period begins to run. Typically, a repetitive/cumulative trauma work injury date is the last day of work because each successive day creates more aggravation on the condition.
While it is not required to provide written notice, we recommend that any injured worker provide immediate written notice of his/her work injury whether it is a distinct incident or a result of repetitive trauma. The written notice avoids the potential problem of an Employer claiming they do not recall verbal notice. Most Employers have forms for injured workers to fill out to provide notice of a work injury. Make sure to make a copy of any form that you submit to your Employer for your records.
Please feel free to contact our office at 717-238-1657 for a free consultation to discuss your Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claim.