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California sees uptick in cumulative trauma claims

When a person thinks of workplace injuries, they may picture a worker suffering an injury based on a one-time incident, such as straining to lift something heavy or falling off a ladder. However, some injuries build up over time simply by performing normal workplace duties. Known as cumulative trauma injuries, these injuries are increasingly giving rise to workers' compensation claims.

There has been a 50 percent uptick in workers' compensation claims in California based on cumulative trauma injuries, according to the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California. The report examined claims based on injuries that were caused by repetitive physical or mental tasks. The hospitality sector and manufacturing sector have seen the biggest uptick, at 14 percent and 22 percent respectively.

According to the International Risk Management Institute, these cumulative trauma injuries can be caused by having to perform repetitive tasks over a long period of time. Hearing loss due to having to work with loud machinery or carpal tunnel syndrome due to having to type at a computer all day are two examples of cumulative trauma injuries. These types of claims can be complicated, as cumulative trauma injuries can affect more than one body part at a time and can also cause psychiatric distress.

The report also noted that workers' compensation claims based on cumulative trauma injuries are processed slower than other claims, with more than 80 percent still pending after a year-and-a-half. Therefore, it is important for workers who are suffering from cumulative trauma injuries incurred in the workplace to determine whether they have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits. If so, a claim can be filed to seek compensation for the economic damages suffered, such as medical expenses and lost wages. Cumulative trauma injuries can be long-lasting and can affect a person's ability to work, so if appropriate, filing a timely claim for benefits is essential.

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