Most Common Workers' Compensation Injuries
What are the most common workers’ compensation injuries? Over the last decade in Washington state, roughly 115,000 workers were injured on the job each year. While the majority of workers’ compensation injuries are physical in nature, many other types of injuries occur, from repetitive stress injuries and construction site accidents to occupational disease, hearing loss, and depression. If you’re injured at work, it’s important to know your options and your rights. The following are examples of specific workplace injuries that are often covered by workers’ compensation and L&I.
Accounting for about half of all accepted L&I claims, the most common workplace injuries in Washington are physical injuries:
- Hand, wrist, and finger
- Back, neck, shoulder, and spine
- Leg, knee, ankle, foot, and toe
- Facial injuries and lacerations
- Multiple injuries to multiple parts of the body
Jobs involving physical labor and repetitive motion increase the risk of back, neck, shoulder, hip, and knee injuries. The impact of repetitive twisting, turning, lifting, and other apparently harmless motions can accumulate over time and lead to serious damage. Isolated accidents can also disable a worker who is otherwise in perfect physical condition, forcing them to alter physical activities as a result.
Spine, Back, Neck, Or Shoulder Injuries
If you experience a serious spine, neck, shoulder, or back injury on the job, your first step is to immediately seek medical attention—including a full written diagnosis. Often, medical facilities do not want to order an MRI, CT Scan, X-ray, or myelogram, but these diagnostic tests and their results are the foundation of any injury claim. If you cannot get diagnosed, call an attorney for options on medical providers who will be willing to see you and diagnose your injury. This information is critical if you also have a third-party claim for negligence against an individual or entity other than your employer.
Hip And Knee Injuries
Hip and knee injuries, especially ones that require surgery or reconstruction, can occur from blunt trauma, repetitive stress, or simple aging. Acts such as lifting, crawling on an already injured knee, slipping, falling, or maneuvering in tight spaces or on ladders can result in injury. Workers may have claims against others, in addition to an employer, if a third-party is involved.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress or strain injuries involve conditions that arise from placing excessive stress on a joint by performing the same or similar actions again and again. The most frequent repetitive stress injuries are tendinitis and bursitis. Stress to a joint pulls on surrounding tissues, including tendons, muscles, and bursae. Without time to recover, the affected area swells and becomes painful.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is compression of the median nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel and is most commonly associated with long spells of typing on a keyboard. Primary symptoms of CTS include sporadic numbness of the thumb, index, long and radial side of the ring finger. Long-standing CTS can result in serious and permanent nerve damage, with workers eventually experiencing constant numbness, atrophy, and weakness of muscles in the hand.
Construction Site Accidents
Construction jobs rank among the most dangerous work in the U.S. thousands of Washington workers are killed or seriously injured each year. Frequent injuries include:
- Scaffolding accidents
- Crane accidents
- Accidents involving compressed gases or chemicals
- Defective machinery or equipment
- Welding and cutting accidents
Workers may be eligible to bring a third-party injury claim for additional compensation and benefits when someone other than the employer contributes to a construction site injury, or if an accident takes place off-site. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, there is practically no limit to the amount of awards in third-party liability claims. This means an injured worker may receive further medical benefits, wage-loss compensation, and additional damages for personal pain and suffering.
Depression And Anxiety
Work-related injuries have multiple outcomes. While outward physical symptoms can be the easiest to recognize, anxiety and depression can also develop when an injury or illness causes prolonged pain, prevents someone from carrying on their work, or alters the nature of their family and social life or personal activities. While mental conditions cannot be diagnosed with a stethoscope or x-ray, it is important to identify and treat these conditions so that depression and anxiety do not impair a patient’s ability to return to work. We take depression as seriously as any other physical injury and will fight to ensure that you get the full treatment you need from your L&I claim.
Occupational Disease Or Illness
An occupational disease is defined as a chronic condition or illness that occurred as a result of an injured worker’s job, career, or work-related functions or activities. Some commonly recognized occupational diseases are:
- Byssinosis (from exposure to asbestos)
- Coal miner’s pneumoconiosis (black lung)
- Skin cancer
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Lead poisoning
- Cancer, acute myeloid leukemia (AML), or other diseases related to exposure to benzene, mold, silica, carbon monoxide, lead paint, chemicals & carcinogens
The disease may have resulted from an initial or prolonged exposure, but the worker must first prove that they came in contact with a substance that caused the illness. If you feel like you developed an occupational disease as a result of workplace exposure to a harmful substance, please call the legal team at Emery | Reddy, PLLC—they are highly trained in identifying and pursuing these types of L&I claims.
Hearing loss can negatively affect many facets of your life. It may make you less productive at work, and it can detrimentally affect your personal life. If your hearing has been damaged as a result of your work, you may have a valid workers’ compensation and L&I claim.
If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, you should take immediate steps to protect your hearing using earplugs or a headset, make an appointment with an audiologist, ENT, or both, and call us to discuss a potential claim:
- Muffled sounds or distorted ranges
- Difficulty (or complete loss of) hearing high-pitched sounds
- Ringing, roaring, or rushing sounds in one or both ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty understanding others
- Having to regularly ask others to repeat themselves
How Do I Know If I Have A Labor & Industries Case?
If you have an L&I claim or wonder if you have an injury case, ask yourself the following:
- Have you been denied the medical care benefits to which you are legally entitled?
- Has L&I asked you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME)?
- Do you have questions about the L&I claim process that you don’t understand?
If any of the above apply to you, you may have a case!
Navigating an L&I claim can be difficult and very time-consuming, especially when you’re ill or injured. You want to focus on healing and make sure your bills are paid, but if you don’t file things properly or on time, your health, home, and job could be in jeopardy. Many individuals miss out on much-needed L&I benefits because they don’t understand what to do or how to get the most compensation for their injuries. If you are experiencing any challenges in your case, a labor and industries attorney can assist you. By contacting Emery | Reddy as soon as possible after you’ve been injured, we can help you avoid the common pitfalls of filing an L&I claim. Our Seattle L&I attorneys are here for you every step of the way.
Our Philosophy: Commitment To Compassion
After the initial ordeal of workers’ compensation injuries, victims may face another round of difficulties as they cope with chronic pain, medical bills, lost wages, and emotional stress. We know how challenging this can be for you and your family, and are committed to supporting you through every step of the process with a full range of legal services. Knowing that you are represented by an attorney who will work tirelessly on your behalf can significantly lighten your burden, allowing you to focus on the highest priority of all: your recovery.
Emery | Reddy’s L&I attorneys can help clients recover the maximum compensation entitled by Washington law. We founded our practice on a commitment to advocating for workers’ rights, and are proud of our record protecting the injured and disabled. Call us today for your free case review. Please remember to have your L&I claim number readily available.