Cumulative vs. Specific Trauma in California Workers' Compensation
Pacific Workers' Compensation Law Center
The California's Workers' Compensation system can be cumbersome
and is often a bureaucratic nightmare; however, there are some aspects
that can be very beneficial to an injured worker. California is one of
the few states that recognizes Cumulative Trauma. At its simplest, Cumulative
Trauma covers injury claims that occur over time - repetitive motion injuries
such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are a good example of this. There has been
a tremendous amount of research and press over concussions in football
and their effects on players later in life. Concussions can cause CTE,
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or Boxer's Disease. Generally, development
of CTE doesn't happen from one
hit to the head: it happens from multiple hits over time. This is classic Cumulative Trauma.
Other types of Cumulative Trauma include Carpal Tunnel, chronic knee and
back problems, and even internal diseases such as cancers that are caused
by industrial exposure.
The majority of cases we see are Specific Injury or Single Incident cases
-- the easy example of this is when you fall at work and get hurt. The
CT case is, of course, much more complicated and requires more diagnostic
tests, medical exams. Often, cases continue for a long time. However,
if a doctor can diagnose the case as a Cumulative Trauma that was caused
or partially caused by work, the result can be very beneficial to the
client. Lifetime medical treatment or permanent disability can be available,
as well as up to $4800 a month in Total Temporary Disability for up to
2 years if you can't work. Often, these types of Workers' Compensation
injuries may not even be noticed for many years, until after retirement.
In many circumstances, people don't even know these are work-related
injuries. The California Workers' Compensation System even accounts
for this by extending the Statute of Limitations in the case of Cumulative
Traumas, starting from the moment when you know that you can receive benefits
and that an injury is work related. Often, the Workers' Compensation
statute of limitations is extended to one year from the date of last treatment.
This was an issue that we often experienced representing retired athletes.
The attorneys at Pacific Workers' were one of the first firms in California
to represent former professional athletes in their concussion cases and
even successfully represented Kevin Turner in his claim for benefits after
he developed ALS from concussions in football.
Having a more complicated Cumulative Trauma case requires attorneys that
truly understand the medical issues the client faces, as well as having
the team and resources to get a case done.
If you think you might have a California Workers' Compensation Cumulative
Trauma case, give us a call.
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