Chicago Repetitive Stress Injury Attorney
Repetitive Stress Injury Claims in Illinois
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), repetitive stress (or strain) injuries (RSI) are the country’s most common and most costly occupational health problem. RSIs affect hundreds of thousands of workers a year and cost more than $20 billion per year in workers’ compensation claims.
Every year in Illinois thousands of workers’ compensation claims are filed alleging repetitive injuries. These claims allege repetitive stress to the knees, hips and shoulders, among others. To have a meritorious claim, the employee must be able to prove that the repetitive stress he or she places on the injured joint has caused, aggravated or accelerated the medical condition.
At Leonard Law Group, our skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys can help you determine your legal options. If you are eligible for compensation, we will fight strategically and effectively on your behalf to gain the results you deserve. Since 1995, we have helped more than 10,000 clients obtain over $500 million in trial awards and settlements.
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Types of Repetitive Stress Injuries
RSIs are typically caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers’ upper bodies. However, the conditions could appear on any part of the body that sees repeated strain or stress because of a person’s occupation.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
One very common repetitive stress injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. This may be the most common repetitive stress injury filed in Illinois, because most persons constantly use their hands while performing their work duties.
The key factors in proving a repetitive stress injury to the carpal tunnel include the following:
- Whether the injured worker's job duties require fine manipulation with their fingers
- The amount of pressure exerted by the fingers in performing their work duties
- The amount of time during the workday the fingers exert this pressure
Those with full-time jobs are more likely to be successful in pursuing these types of repetitive stress claims. Common workers filing these types of claims include data entry personnel, mechanics and those who work with smaller hand tools.
This is not to say other occupations do not result in overexertion on the carpal tunnel. The diagnosis of this condition is based on the history provided by the patient, the physical examination findings and an EMG diagnostic test.
There are also many risk factors present in developing carpal tunnel including:
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Prior fractures of the wrist or hand
- Being pregnant and menopause
The tendons located on the palmar surface of the hand glide through tunnels called tendon sheaths, which act to keep the tendons in proper position against the bones. If the tendons become inflamed, it can cause the flexor tendon to thicken and form nodules, which make it difficult to pass through the sheath. This nodule can cause the finger to get stuck in a bent position as the finger is being straightened. The finger may then “pop” straight with effort.
Jobs involving repetitive lifting, use of a jackhammer, and pushing and pulling heavy objects with great force could cause trigger finger. Likewise, assembly-line jobs and other manufacturing jobs that require standing in a particular position while making repetitive movements for extended periods of time and administrative or other office positions that include repetitive typing and mouse clicking can cause the condition.
Also known as lateral epicondylitis, tennis elbow happens if there is pain focused on the outside of the arm, where the forearm meets your elbow. This pain is caused when the tendons that flex the elbow develop small tears, leading to inflammation. Tennis elbow can make it painful to lift and grip things. This type of injury is another classic RSI.
Any job that involves straining the muscles around the elbow repeatedly can cause the condition, such as tree-cutting, painting, carpentry, playing some types of musical instruments, cooking, and assembly line work. Butchers also get this condition often. You can help prevent tennis elbow by doing exercises to stretch and strengthen your wrist and forearm muscles.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Cubital tunnel syndrome causes pain, paralysis, or numbness of the ring and little fingers, which may progress up the arm. It happens when the ulnar nerve is pinched along the elbow’s edge and causes a tingling or painful feeling. Cubital tunnel syndrome is likely to affect those people whose work involves protracted periods of elbow flexion (such as holding a telephone for extended periods of time).
Chronic Back Pain
Back pain is a blanket term referring to a wide range of disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or other soft tissues or joints. Chronic back pain as an RSI happens when your job causes you to work in non-ergonomic conditions or causes extreme amounts of stress or strain on your back muscles, such as jobs involving heavy lifting.
Avoiding Repetitive Stress Injuries
The only way to avoid RSIs is to steer clear of overuse. If you begin to experience stiffness, swelling, or pain in these areas, ensure to give them plenty of rest. Alternating activities can also keep your fingers from becoming inflamed. If you do experience a repetitive strain injury or suffer an accident at work, make sure to inform your supervisor in writing as soon as possible and visit the doctor.
Seeing a physician after acquiring an injury on the job is an essential step in getting workers’ compensation insurance to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs. Likewise, in the state of Illinois, you are required to inform your employer or supervisor of your injury within 45 days to get workers’ comp.
Key Factor in Repetitive Stress Injury Claim
Leonard Law Group has represented hundreds of package car drivers who allege repetitive stress injuries to their knee and hip joints as a result of stepping in and out of their package cars up to a hundred times a day. This causes premature wear and tear on their joints and is clearly more stress than the general public places on those same body parts as they perform their everyday work duties.
As a result, if x-rays of the knee and hip and joints show end-stage bone on bone contact, aka osteoarthritis, an orthopedic specialist hired by Leonard Law Group will be able to credibly testify that the repetitive stress placed on the joint in question is more than that of the general public.
This will mean that a filed workers' compensation claim on behalf of the injured worker will carry merit and ultimately result in a lump sum settlement or trial installment award.
Contact a Chicago Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you feel your work duties expose you to an increased risk of developing the above repetitive conditions or may have aggravated a pre-existing repetitive condition please contact Leonard Law Group. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively pursue your case.
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