Repetitive trauma is common in workplaces where you do similar things day after day. For example, if you work in education, you probably stand, use a chalkboard and grade papers regularly, all repetitive motions. If you work in a factory, you might wrap items or move them several times a minute in similar movement patterns. If you are a writer, you could use a keyboard for many hours a day. In any case where you're doing similar actions time and time again, you could end up with a repetitive-strain injury.
In New Jersey, repetitive trauma cases are normally compensated under the Workers' Compensation Act. To be able to make a claim, you will need to determine the date of injury. Knowing the date of the accident is necessary when you file a claim.
It is a little hard to determine an exact date when you have a repetitive trauma injury. This injury develops over time, which means that you may have been struggling for many months or years before eventually seeking medical help. With cumulative injuries, you may be able to use the date of your first medical appointment or diagnosis as the date of injury.
On the workers' compensation form, the claim falls under an accidental injury. Due to the restrictions of New Jersey's state laws, you have only a limited amount of time to file a claim. You should report your injury as soon as you seek medical care for it or develop acute symptoms.
It is recognized that repetitive trauma takes time to wear on the body. A person might know that there is a problem but not seek help right away. For this reason, individuals who did not seek help early enough used to be questioned about whether they passed the time limits given in the statute of limitations.
However, the courts now allow victims of injuries to use the date of the discovery of the injury or the last day of work prior to surgery or disablement. The maximum time to report the injury to an employer is around 14 days, while the statute of limitations sets in at two years.
What can you use to prove the date of injury?
There are five options. These include:
- The date the symptoms became acute during work
- The date the petitioner sought medical attention for the injury
- The date the petitioner began to be unable to work due to the condition
- The date that the petitioner is told by a physician that the injury is related to work
- The date when the injury was first noticed
If you notice an injury, it's better to report it right away. Get the medical care you need as soon as you know there is a problem, so you can protect your health.