As a construction worker, you face injury risks each time you show up for work. Construction sites are dangerous workplaces, and each year hundreds of construction workers across Oregon and Washington get injured on the job.
While many of these injuries result from traumatic accidents (such as falling or being electrocuted), many also result from repetitive stress. Performing the same motion day in and day out can place an enormous amount of strain on your body, and over time, this strain can lead to a repetitive stress injury.
Claiming Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Repetitive Stress Injuries
In both Oregon and Washington, repetitive stress injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation covers all types of job-related injuries, including those that result from repetitive strain. However, while your injury may be covered, securing benefits could still prove to be an uphill battle. Construction contractors and their insurance companies (in Oregon and in Washington, employers cannot buy private workers’ compensation coverage) will often dispute workers’ compensation claims involving repetitive stress injuries. So, in order to secure the benefits to which you are legally entitled, you need to make sure you come prepared.
5 Challenges with Securing Workers’ Compensation for a Repetitive Stress Injury
1. Proving That You Have a Repetitive Stress Injury
The first challenge many construction workers face simply involves proving that they have suffered a repetitive stress injury. Even if you wake up with debilitating pain every morning, this won’t be enough to prove that you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In order to successfully claim benefits, you must have your injury diagnosed by a qualified medical professional.
In Washington, you can see any doctor that accepts payment through workers’ compensation (also known as “L&I”). In Oregon, you may need to see a doctor who is a member of a managed care organization (MCO) if this is required under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy. In any case, you should see a doctor promptly. And if you aren’t sure where to go, our attorneys can help you choose an appropriate provider.
2. Proving That Your Repetitive Stress Injury Is Work Related
Next, you need to be able to prove that your repetitive stress injury is work related. Workers’ compensation does not cover all injuries that prevent you from working, just those that you suffer on the job. As a result, a common tactic that companies use to deny claims is to allege that construction workers suffered their injuries as a result of repetitive stress at home.
If your employer or its insurance company tries to claim that your injury isn’t work related, there are a number of ways that an attorney can help you establish your claim for benefits. Your medical records will be important, as will the details of your day-to-day job responsibilities.
3. Proving That You Filed Your Workers’ Compensation Claim in Time
In both Oregon and Washington, you only have a limited amount of time to file for workers’ compensation once you suffer a job-related injury. With repetitive stress injuries, this deadline can present some unique challenges. When did you first notice symptoms of your injury? How long did you wait to seek medical treatment? How recently have your symptoms worsened to the point of making it painful, difficult, or impossible to do your job? These are all important details, and they are all details that your employer and/or its insurance company may try to use against you.
However, regardless of how long you have been experiencing symptoms, you should speak with a trusted attorney from D’Amore Law Group. Due to the unique nature of repetitive stress injuries, you should not assume that you have run out of time to file a claim under any circumstances. At D’Amore Law Group, we regularly represent injured construction workers in Oregon and Washington, and we can quickly determine if you are eligible to file for benefits.
4. Proving Your Eligibility for Disability Benefits
There are two main types of workers’ compensation benefits: medical and disability. Medical benefits cover the cost of your care, while disability benefits provide coverage for a portion of your lost wages while you are unable to work due to your injury.
Disability benefits are not available in all cases. Furthermore, disability benefits can be awarded on a temporary or partial basis and on a partial or total basis. In order to make sure you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled under Oregon or Washington law, you will need to work with an attorney to establish your right to workers’ compensation disability payments. Additional challenges can arise if you have been working through the pain of your injury – even if you did so in order to try to please your employer and protect your job.
5. Making Sure You Aren’t Forced to Return to the Job Site Too Soon
Finally, when dealing with a repetitive stress injury, you need to make sure you aren’t forced to return to work too soon. Unfortunately, this can often be very difficult, especially if your workers’ comp doctor says that you are ready to work before your injury has fully healed. This is where the issue of “maximum medical improvement” or “MMI” often comes into play as well. If your doctor says that you won’t be able to fully recover but are still capable of performing some or all of your job duties, then you may have your benefits terminated much earlier than you were expecting and much earlier than you can afford.
While these are all common challenges in workers’ compensation claims involving repetitive stress injuries, they can all be overcome. If you are a construction worker in Oregon or Washington and you need help dealing with the effects of a repetitive stress injury, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.
Speak with an Experienced Injury Lawyer at D’Amore Law Group
Are you entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a repetitive stress injury? To discuss your situation in confidence, call us directly or request a free consultation online today.