North Carolina workers’ compensation and repetitive stress injuries

Workers who suffer from occupational repetitive stress injuries, or conditions that result from repeated motions, may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

There is at least some risk of injury for workers in nearly every field and occupation in North Carolina, and elsewhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of occupational injuries in North Carolina was 2.9 per 1,000 full time workers in 2014. Broken bones, sprains and head trauma are all common work-related injuries. However, many workers also commonly suffer repetitive stress injuries on the job.

What are repetitive stress injuries?

There are numerous conditions, which are classified as repetitive stress injuries. These types of ailments result from wear and tear on the body, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Repetitive stress injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries and tennis elbow, are generally caused by repeated physical movements, vibrations, awkward or sustained positions, forceful exertions or mechanical compression. Repetitive stresses such as these cause damage to the nerves, tendons, ligaments, muscles or other soft body tissues. Workers may develop repetitive stress injuries as a result of typing for prolonged periods, extended use of certain tools and performing other work-related tasks.

Common symptoms of repetitive stress injuries

Injured workers who are suffering from repetitive stress injuries may experience a range of symptoms. Some of the most common of these include the following:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Soreness
  • Feelings of weakness or fatigue

These, and other related symptoms, may affect people's ability to work and perform certain tasks. Repetitive stress injuries often require medical treatment. Sometimes, workers may need to modify their work duties or take time off of work in order to recover.

State coverage for repetitive stress injuries

Under North Carolina's Workers' Compensation Act, workers may be entitled to benefits for injuries that arise as a result of and in the course of their employment. This includes repetitive stress injuries. The workers' compensation benefits that they may be eligible for include medical coverage, lost-time compensation and disability payments.

In order to receive such benefits, injured workers may have to prove that their ailments are eligible. To this end, they may need to provide medical records that show their repetitive stress injuries developed as a result of work conditions. Such conditions must have put them at a greater risk for developing their injuries than the general public faces. Furthermore, they may also have to prove that their work environment significantly contributed to causing their injuries.

Working with an attorney

Often, there is no specific accident or incident to point to as the cause of repetitive stress injuries. Consequently, workers in North Carolina who suffer from these ailments may struggle to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Therefore, they may find it helpful to seek legal guidance. An attorney may help them to understand their rights and guide them through the claims filing process.