Some jobs require workers to perform specific tasks repeatedly that may cause an injury to develop gradually over days, weeks, months, or even years. In general, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act does not provide compensation for these types of injuries, which are referred to as repetitive motion injuries or cumulative trauma injuries. However, the applicable laws and rules are complex. In some cases, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can develop a claim that entitles a worker to compensation for an injury that otherwise may seem ineligible for coverage.
Virginia Law on Repetitive Motion Injuries
The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act provides compensation for workers who suffer injuries as the result of a work-related accident or occupational disease. Many years ago, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that work-related injuries resulting from repetitive motion are not compensable under the Act as a matter of law. In a 1989 case, the Court stated that “injuries resulting from repetitive trauma, continuing mental or physical stress, or other cumulative events, as well as injuries sustained at an unknown time, are not ‘injuries by accident.’”
There are exceptions and circumstances under which a worker can receive workers’ compensation for an injury that may seem like a repetitive motion injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome and hearing loss are two exceptions provided in the statute. For other cumulative trauma injuries, whether the worker can receive compensation depends entirely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury.
Under Virginia case law, an identifiable incident that can support a claim may not necessarily happen suddenly or without warning. To determine whether there is a basis for a workers’ compensation claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer needs to analyze all the circumstances and then apply both the statutory provisions and case law before reaching a conclusion.
While the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act does not cover repetitive motion injuries currently, there have been recent legislative efforts to secure a change in the statute that will allow compensation for these types of injuries. So far, the efforts have not succeeded, but that could change in a future legislative session.
What To Do About a Repetitive Motion Injury
If your job requires you to perform the same tasks over and over, you may develop an injury gradually. If there is not an identifiable incident that triggered the injury, you may not have a workers’ comp claim. However, if there is a single event that causes an injury while you are doing repetitive work, even if the event lasted for several hours, your injury may be covered by workers’ compensation.
Sometimes, identifying the single incident requires analyzing events preceding the injury in detail. The cause of the injury may not even be obvious to you. That is one important reason for talking with a lawyer, who can ask all the critical questions and gather relevant information to determine whether you may have the basis for a claim. If you and your lawyer can identify an incident that triggered your injury, you may have the basis for a workers’ compensation claim.
The facts and circumstances of each workers’ compensation case are completely unique. In an injury case that may raise questions of repetitive motion, your lawyer conducts a thorough analysis of the factual background before completing a legal analysis to determine whether a legal basis for a claim exists. You should resist trying to make your own factual and legal analysis when you have an injury. The sooner you talk with an attorney, the sooner you will find out whether you may have the basis for a claim.
The complexity of the legal issues relating to repetitive motion injuries makes it almost impossible for a worker who suffers this type of injury to succeed in a claim without assistance from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. If you think you may have a repetitive motion injury, you should talk with an experienced Virginia workers’ compensation attorney at the earliest opportunity.
Making a workers’ compensation claim for a repetitive motion injury is extremely difficult and challenging. An injured worker can even defeat their own claim by statements made in reporting the injury or in talking with the insurance company.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Richmond, Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you may have a repetitive motion injury, it’s essential to talk with an attorney. At the Richmond law firm of Renfro & Renfro, we do not charge for your first consultation, so you have nothing to lose by discussing your injury with us. Our dedicated workers’ compensation lawyers have extensive experience with all types of Virginia workers’ comp claims, including repetitive motion injuries. We are dedicated to getting injured workers the full compensation they deserve. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation.