3 reasons repetitive stress can complicate workers’ comp claims

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2023 | Workplace Injuries

Employees working in Pennsylvania can easily get hurt on the job. Car crashes, machinery malfunctions and slip-and-falls result in workers being unable to continue performing their jobs. Provided that someone is an employee, not an independent contractor, they can usually rely on their employer to carry workers’ compensation coverage.

When someone gets hurt in a specific incident, they can report it to management and ideally pursue a straightforward workers’ compensation claim. However, if someone gets diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury related to their job functions, they may have a more complicated claims process ahead. There are a few reasons why repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, tend to result in more challenging workers’ compensation claims.

The need for rest or accommodations

Some workplace injuries only require immediate trauma care and a few other medical interventions, like pain management resources. If someone has a repetitive stress injury, their condition will probably impact their ability to work for a few days if not multiple weeks. Allowing the body time to rest is crucial for the long-term recovery of someone with a repetitive stress injury. Someone will either need a leave of absence while they heal and undergo treatment, or they may require extensive accommodations from their employer to continue working the same job.

The likelihood of treatment disagreements

Repetitive stress disorders might leave someone in need of invasive medical treatment that they do not want to receive. A doctor might recommend surgery for severe carpal tunnel syndrome, for example. People often prefer to avoid surgery whenever possible even if it would potentially speed up the recovery process. Other people may feel an aversion to certain types of pain relief or an obligation to attend routine physical therapy sessions. Disagreements about what type of care someone should receive could make a claim more complex and put someone at risk of losing benefits.

Return-to-work challenges

If someone catches a repetitive stress injury early, they might avoid the worst consequences. However, many professionals will ignore and downplay early symptoms until their condition reaches a relatively serious point. When they do begin treatment, they may no longer be capable of fully recovering. They may always have lingering pain or functional limitations that affect their strength or range of motion. There may then be disputes about when the worker can transition back to work because the doctor believes they have achieved maximum medical improvement (MMI), but the worker feels like their job is too challenging or painful to perform.

Those facing more challenging workers’ compensation claims may benefit from seeking legal guidance as they appeal or seek a second opinion. Recognizing when a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania might prove particularly challenging could help someone better make use of the support opportunities available to them.