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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