Many times, injuries at work occur gradually instead of as a result of one specific event. One of the most common examples of a gradual injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition often develops as a result of repetitive work with the hands or arms.
People also suffer gradual injuries to other parts of their bodies such as their backs, necks, shoulders and knees. These injuries can develop over weeks, months or years of work.
Many times, people keep working as their injury gradually worsens. Many people eventually get to the point that they need to see a doctor or just cannot physically work anymore. Often, they have questions about whether Georgia workers’ compensation law covers these types of injuries.
Does Georgia workers’ compensation law cover gradual, repetitive work injuries?
Yes. In order for Georgia’s workers’ compensation law to cover you, you must suffer an injury arising out of and in the course of your employment. But, the word “injury” includes gradually developing injuries that occur from repetitive work and cumulative trauma. Georgia law also covers aggravations of preexisting conditions, even if they are gradually developing.
Many times, people are injured when they have to do a physically demanding task over and over again at work. People who have to lift heavy items all day long often suffer injuries to their backs. Doctors usually order an MRI if a back condition does not get better. If the MRI shows a lot of degenerative disc disease or “arthritis”, the workers’ compensation insurance company may claim that your back problem is just due to old age.
When a worker lifted heavy materials at work for many years, it is certainly quite likely that the work gradually caused the back problems (even if there was no specific injury). If you may have suffered any sort of gradually acquired, repetitive, or cumulative injury at work, you should talk to your employer about filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What if my employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company denies my claim?
You may receive a Form WC-1 or Form WC-3 “controverting” (a fancy word for denying) your claim. Your employer may just tell you they are not going to handle it under workers’ compensation.
If your employer denies your claim for any reason, you should definitely talk to an attorney to find out if you should pursue your claim. Even if your employer accepts your claim, you may still want to talk to an attorney. You will want to make sure the insurance company handles your claim right.