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Workers' compensation for work injuries that develop over time

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Not all work injuries occur during a single incident; some develop over the course of months or years. In order to get workers' compensation benefits for those cases, the process is a little bit different.

Understanding the proper protocol is critical to gaining access to all available benefits.

Identify the injury

There are several types of slowly developing injuries that employees commonly experience. Many are repetitive motion injuries, or injuries that occur due to employees performing the same motions throughout the workday. Also called cumulative trauma disorders, these conditions may include carpal tunnel syndrome, permanent back and shoulder injuries, and tendinitis or bursitis.

Exposure to hazardous substances may cause delayed symptoms. Because the signs of the injury or illness do not appear until much later, an employee often does not know that there is a problem. This is common with exposure to asbestos, for example; the inhaled fibers cause scar tissue to build up in the lungs, increasing the risk of lung cancer and other diseases.

Seek medical evaluation

In any workers' compensation claim, the worker must show that there is a genuine injury related to work duties. Having a medical evaluation is critical to accomplishing this. It is also important to visit a physician approved to provide treatment for a workers' compensation injury.

Keep a record

If an employee notices health issues developing, it is a good idea to start keeping track of symptoms, such as what duties irritate them, and how the symptoms affect him or her. Some companies may have designated paperwork, and in such cases the employee should fill it out, keep a copy and submit the paperwork. If there is no formal paperwork, the employee should still report the issue in writing and submit it to the proper managerial staff.

If you have any questions about a potential worker's compensation claim involving an injury or illness that occurred over time, speak with an attorney.

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