WORKERS' COMPENSATION

Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

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Many occupational injuries, such as falls or machine accidents, occur instantly. While workers’ compensation claims for these injuries can certainly be complicated, the actual cause and date of the injury are rarely unclear.

Some workplace injuries, on the other hand, occur gradually over months or years of doing the same repetitive tasks each day. These injuries are no less real or painful, but because there is no single precipitating event, workers with repetitive stress injuries frequently find it much more challenging to recover the benefits they are owed.

If you have developed a repetitive stress injury from your work, the experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman can help you seek the benefits you are due. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to learn how we can help you navigate the New Jersey workers’ compensation system with confidence.

Why You Need Our Workplace Repetitive Stress Injury Lawyers

person with injured hand

If you have been diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury caused by your working conditions, you deserve access to the resources you need to recover. Since 1929, the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman has been dedicated to protecting and helping the people of New Jersey. Our New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys have combined experience of 105 years and 35 years of practicing workers’ compensation law on average. As part of our practice, we have been representing members of public and private labor unions for almost a century, including tradespeople, state and county workers, construction workers, service employees, and factory workers.

Our team is highly skilled at handling workers’ compensation cases of every type, including repetitive stress claims. Our lawyers have handled cases that resulted in precedent-making published opinions in the workers’ compensation arena. We employ lawyers certified as workers’ compensation attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Attorneys from Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman teach workshops and seminars for other attorneys on subjects related to workers’ compensation law. Some of our attorneys sit in leadership positions on workers’ compensation committees for the New Jersey State Bar Association and the New Jersey Association for Justice. Our lawyers have served as masters and barristers of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Inn of Court and serve on the New Jersey Commission of Labor Advisory Committee on Workers’ Compensation.

Our seasoned New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to listen to your concerns, determine a course of action, and work to get you the benefits to which you are entitled. We can begin work on your case at no upfront cost. We do not charge for our services unless and until we obtain a successful outcome on your behalf. And even then, the only fees we collect come from a court-approved percentage (up to 20 percent) of the monetary award you receive for your claim.

From our clients

I came to PRA with my workmen compensation case . Gary Adams represented me . Gary was recommended to me by a friend and I in turn recommended Gary to another friend. Gary and his paralegal Jennifer are very good with communication and keeping me well informed in regards to my case : answering emails & returning my calls . I have and I will continue to recommend Gary and his staff to my friends .

WF

My experience with Pellettien Rabstein & Altman was a great one! Every step of the way they were there with me, they made sure I got the justice I deserved. Whenever I called there was someone to answer the questions I had, the receptionist and secretary were friendly and very polite. Anytime, any day, I will recommend Counselor Gary Adams to represent any of my family or friends.

NJ

I have dealt with this firm for over 7 years on a very complicated Workmans Compensation case.
I have dealt with a myriad of legal firms throughout the country for over 30 years in my positions of CEO. And this firm is by far, the best firm I have ever dealt with.

CD

My attorney at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman was amazing and I can’t thank the firm enough for their insights and assistance! I would highly recommend them!

EW

It was a very long and arduous time (13 years to bring this before a Judge). Living out of state made it particularly hard. Attorney Monaghan of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman in New Jersey was diligent in helping through the morass of a very difficult workers’ comp claim resultant from an assault on a flight over international waters. I am permanently disabled from this assault and appreciate PR&A’s help.

AC

Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman has very knowledgeable attorneys who are responsive and professional. Jeff Monaghan is an excellent example of this.

JN

Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman listened to my needs and helped me get a larger settlement than I expected. They were very attentive and kind.

EW

Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman is an outstanding firm.

CD

What Is a Workplace Repetitive Stress Injury?

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Repetitive stress injuries – sometimes called repetitive strain injuries, repetitive motion injuries, or repetitive trauma injuries – occur in the workplace when workers repeatedly perform the same or very similar motions. Workers who develop repetitive stress injuries often report symptoms like tingling, numbness, and severe pain in the affected body parts.

One of the most common and recognizable repetitive stress injuries is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when a major nerve in the hand gets pinched or compressed. Workers can develop carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive tasks such as typing at a computer, writing or sketching, or performing other tasks that require manual dexterity.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the terms “ergonomic injuries” or “musculoskeletal disorders” (MSDs) to refer to many of the injuries caused by repetitive work stress. The Bureau notes that repetitive motion and overexertion are the top causes of MSDs and ergonomic injuries.

In a recent year, 30 percent of reported work injury cases involving days away from work were MSD cases. Work-related MSDs reportedly affect 27.2 out of every 10,000 full-time workers in the U.S.

Common Types of Injuries Due to Repetitive Stress at Work

Here are some of the most common types of ergonomic and MSD injuries that occur due to repetitive stress at work:

Shoulder impingement syndrome

Shoulder impingement occurs when repetitive stress causes swelling where the rotator cuff meets the humerus, leading to pain and irritation. Common causes of shoulder impingement include working with arms above shoulder level and vibrations from power tools.

Pinched nerves

A pinched nerve occurs when repetitive stress or other trauma causes swelling or displacement that puts pressure on the nerve. Workers who perform repetitive hand, wrist, or shoulder movements are especially at-risk for pinched nerves.

Herniated discs

A herniated disc occurs when one of the rubbery discs that cushion the bones of the vertebrae slips out of place. Herniated discs can affect workers in any industry who sit for long periods in one position, lift heavy objects, or engage in repetitive bending and twisting motions.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis occurs when repetitive motion stress causes painful inflammation in the tendon near a joint. Tendonitis can affect workers in various industries, from clerical typists to manual laborers and others.

Stenosing tenosynovitis

Commonly known as “trigger finger,” stenosing tenosynovitis occurs when painful inflammation affects the tendons responsible for flexing the fingers, usually the pointer finger or thumb. Severe repetitive strain can lock an affected finger in a permanently bent position.

Lateral epicondylitis

Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” occurs when the tendons in the elbow responsible for bending the wrist become damaged from overuse. In addition to professional athletes, this condition commonly occurs in butchers, plumbers, carpenters, and painters, among others.

Raynaud’s syndrome

Raynaud’s syndrome is characterized by disordered blood circulation in the extremities, most commonly the fingers and toes. Workers are particularly susceptible to Raynaud’s if their jobs involve frequent use of vibrating equipment or intensive hand stress.

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We have a particularly strong reputation in the field of workers’ compensation, which we helped pioneer in the state. In fact, our namesake partner Ruth Rabstein was known as “the Dean of the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Bar” for the many contributions she made to expanding workers’ rights in the state. 

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Types of Workers Who Often Suffer Repetitive Stress Injuries

woman with injured hand

Virtually any worker in any line of work could develop repetitive stress injuries. Certain occupations involve more repetitive motions than others, which means the workers who perform those jobs are especially at risk for injuries from cumulative work trauma.

Repetitive stress injuries are common among workers, such as:

  • Baristas and food service workers
  • Retail workers and cashiers
  • Bus, taxi, and rideshare drivers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Professional athletes
  • Artists, musicians, and performers
  • Chefs and bakers
  • Dental hygienists
  • Nurses and healthcare workers
  • Janitors and housekeepers
  • Clerical and administrative workers
  • Construction workers
  • Plumbers and electricians
  • Farmers and food pickers
  • Computer programmers
  • Machinists and welders
  • Hairdressers and estheticians
  • Piercing and tattoo artists

Treatments for Common Types of RSI

Like any other injury, the treatment needed for a repetitive stress injury (RSI) depends on the cause and severity of the symptoms. Potential treatments for repetitive stress injuries could include:

RICE

RICE, which stands for “rest, ice, compression, and elevation,” is often the first line of treatment after an RSI. Resting the affected body part and keeping it elevated with a cold compress can ease pain and prevent further damage.

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs

OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation at home.

Prescription drugs

If you are in debilitating pain, a physician may recommend prescription pain relievers until you can find a more permanent solution.

Steroid injections

Steroids like cortisone can reduce swelling, inflammation, and stiffness when injected into affected joints or muscles

Physiotherapy

A physical therapist helps patients develop custom exercise plans to improve posture, strength, and flexibility in physiotherapy.

Surgery

In severe cases, repetitive stress injuries can damage internal structures in a way that can only be repaired with surgery.

Does New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Cover Repetitive Stress Injuries?

person seeing doctor for wrist injury

Repetitive stress injuries from tasks you perform as part of your job count as conditions that arise “out of and in the course of employment.” However, you must prove that an RSI is not the result of the “natural aging process” to claim workers’ compensation benefits for it.

Although repetitive motion injuries are just as deserving of workers’ compensation coverage as sudden, traumatic injuries, employees often find that employers and insurers are reluctant to approve RSI workers’ compensation claims. As a result, the burden of proof rests on the employee, who must demonstrate a definitive causal link between their work duties and the repetitive stress injury.

You must provide strong evidence to claim workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational RSI. An attorney can help you give your claim the boost it needs by obtaining medical records and valuable supporting testimony from reliable doctors, specialists, and other expert witnesses.

Benefits from Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries

With a successful workers’ compensation claim, you could be entitled to the following types of benefits for an occupational RSI:

Medical benefits

These benefits cover the costs of any reasonable and necessary medical care you require to treat your work-related condition. That includes expenses for ambulance rides, hospital stays, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, and durable medical equipment.

Temporary disability benefits

If your condition temporarily prevents you from doing your usual job or returning to work at all, these benefits can cover a portion of your lost wages. Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits provide up to 70 percent of your average weekly pre-injury wages. TTD benefits are subject to statewide maximums that fluctuate year to year. You can receive temporary disability benefits for up to 400 weeks or until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), whichever is sooner.

Permanent disability benefits

If your injury prevents you from ever returning to work at full capacity, or your injury affects your activities of daily living, you could be entitled to permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. PPD benefits are available for up to 600 weeks or certain statutory amounts. If your injury is so severe that you cannot return to work in any capacity, you could be entitled to permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. PTD benefits are paid for life.

Job displacement benefits

If your injury prevents you from ever performing your old job again and your employer does not have any alternative or light-duty work available, you could be entitled to supplemental job displacement benefits. These benefits can help you pay for the education or training necessary to develop the skills you need for other types of work.

How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for an RSI in New Jersey?

You should notify your employer once you have a medical diagnosis confirming your occupational RSI. Deadlines include:

30 days

You are encouraged to notify your employer of any work-related injury within the first 30 days. Your chances of receiving the full benefits you are entitled to are greater the sooner you report the injury.

31-90 days

You must notify your employer no later than 90 days after your work-related injury. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that your claim will be denied.

Two years

You must file a formal claim for workers’ compensation benefits within two years of the date when you first sustained or learned of your work-related condition, or within two years of the last payment of workers’ compensation benefits.

Our New Jersey Repetitive Stress Injury Lawyers Are Ready to Help

doctor showing hand injury

If you suffer from an occupational RSI, do not hesitate to contact Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman for help. We can help you understand your legal options during a free initial case evaluation.

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