Repetitive Strain Injury Lawyer: Illinois Law
The term repetitive trauma refers to the effects of work repetitive in nature which over months or even years manifest as condition(s) of occupational ill-being. Classic examples of such repetitive work include the operation of a jackhammer or sorts of pneumatic tools. However, do not limit your thinking to such obvious examples of repetitive work. For, much more subtle work duties can be repetitive within the meaning of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
The law of repetitive trauma is most commonly applied to injuries such as carpal and/or cubital tunnel syndromes and some primary shoulder problems. However, the law of repetitive trauma does apply to any body part providing the injured worker can prove by credible expert medical evidence that the alleged injury relates to the effects of work repetitive in nature. The definition of repetitive work is very much the job of an experienced workers' compensation trial lawyer.
The words repetitive trauma are absent from the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act and are instead the result of judicial construction. Judicial construction refers to the Illinois Supreme Court case of Peoria County Belwood Nursing Home v. The Industrial Commission, 115 Ill.2d 524, 505 N.E.2d 1026 (1987) which Mr. Lesaganich argued personally before the seven justices of the court. This landmark decision is the legal precedent for inclusion of repetitive trauma within the meaning of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.
Written accident report forms do not usually seem geared towards the reporting of a work-related repetitive trauma injury. Most such forms ask for a date of accident. In repetitive trauma cases we do not discuss date of accident, but rather the date of the manifestation of injury. The notion of repetitive trauma manifestation is a product of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Peoria County Belwood Nursing Home v. The Industrial Commission, 115 Ill.2d 524, 505 N.E.2d 1026 (1987). The rule of law handed down by the Illinois Supreme Court in the Belwood, supra case indicates that repetitive trauma injuries manifest when the fact of the condition of ill-being and the fact of its relationship to the injured workers' work would be plainly apparent to a reasonable person. A classic example of facts which would support manifestation would include a record of a medical provider discussing with the injured worker the fact that he or she may have carpal tunnel syndrome and that it very well could be work related. At that point the law would say the repetitive trauma injury has manifested itself and that the injured worker has 45 days from that manifestation to report the injury to the employer as related to the repetitive effects of the injured workers' work.
Most mistakes made by the injured worker seem to occur early in cases of repetitive trauma. Remember that the injured worker is entitled to the right to counsel at any stage of his or her case. Candidly, John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law does its best work when we are involved early in the process. This seems particularly true in the case of repetitive trauma claims. Reporting a repetitive trauma claim is not an instinctive thing and if to be accomplished properly may indeed require the advice of an experienced workers' compensation trial lawyer.
Remember, just as in the case of an accident, a repetitive trauma claim cannot succeed without supportive credible expert medical testimony. Therefore, as you are moved through the various medical treatment phases of a repetitive trauma claim it is important that your various medical providers be familiarized with the nature of your work so that they might be provided with sufficient information to constitute what lawyers call an adequate foundation for a credible opinion regarding whether the repetitive trauma injuries are indeed work-related.
There are many ways to provide your medical provider(s) with such a foundation. Firstly, the injured worker need provide clear oral history of the following:
- Your date of hire with your employer;
- Your present job classification and the length of time you've performed the duties of that job;
- Details regarding the physical duties of your job. Be specific. A written job description can be very helpful when attempting to supply your medical provider(s) with enough information to accommodate adequate foundation for the medical provider(s) opinion to be adjudged credible by an Arbitrator.
Your employer may attempt to challenge your repetitive trauma claim from many directions. Firstly, your employer may contend that your work is not repetitive within the meaning of the law surrounding repetitive trauma. Your employer may also use a job video to accomplish that end. Or, your employer may employ the services of an independent medical examiner who may have an opinion adverse to your case. Your employer may also want to blame your condition(s) of ill-being on causes other than your work. For instance, in the cases of carpal and/or cubital tunnel syndromes issues may be made when you are to a degree diabetic or hypothyroid as these conditions can contribute to the development of carpal and/or cubital tunnel syndromes.
Despite the age of the aforementioned Supreme Court rulings in Belwood, supra there remains confusion regarding the laws of Illinois which surround repetitive trauma claims. Moreover, many employers remain most reluctant to voluntarily accept repetitive trauma claims because they do not involve a traditional accident which seems easier for the employer to understand. Many people still think that they cannot receive workers' compensation benefits for repetitive trauma injuries. But, as you can see from this page of our website that this is simply not true. At our law office, we know that the pain and suffering you experience with repetitive trauma injuries, such as carpal and cubital tunnel syndromes, are just as real and just as compensable as the results of acute injury.
At the office John Lesaganich, P.C., Attorney at Law we fight aggressively for employees with repetitive trauma injuries. We know that our clients are people who work hard, day in and day out, to benefit their employers. Now that your hard work has caused you injury, we will be there for you to forcefully advocate for the compensation you deserve. At our office, initial consultations are always free and confidential with evening and Saturday morning appointments always available upon request. To speak with attorney John Lesaganich about your repetitive trauma injury, contact our office at 309-637-4052. Our office is located on Main Street in downtown Peoria, across the street from the courthouse.