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Which Types of Injuries Are Covered by Workers' Compensation?

If you are injured at work in California, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits that cover related medical expenses, ongoing treatments, lost wages, and other losses caused by the workplace injury.

The workers’ compensation system in California provides benefits to all employees who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses, but what exactly are these?

Injuries Covered by Workers’ Compensation in California

Many different kinds of injuries and illnesses can occur because of one’s work – even if they spend a lot of their time sitting at a desk every day. To put things simply: If an injury or illness was sustained while the employee was performing a work-related task, it will probably be covered by workers’ compensation.

Keep reading to learn more about some specific types of work-related injuries.

Occupational Injuries & Illnesses

The first category of covered conditions is occupational injuries and illnesses. As you might guess, these are conditions that occur as a direct result of activities an employee performs at work. These illnesses and injuries can include anything from bone fractures to soft-tissue damage, muscle tears, burns, and even more serious conditions like spinal cord injuries and cancer.

Basically, if your job inherently puts you at risk of one of these injuries or illnesses, you would probably qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if you were actually injured in such a manner. Your main barrier to receiving benefits would be proving that you were performing a work-related task when the injury occurred, but an experienced attorney can help you do this.

Cumulative Trauma & Repetitive Motion Injuries

Not all injuries happen in an instant. Some take time to build up, as is the case with stress and repetitive motion injuries. If you work on an assembly line or in some other capacity where you’re constantly making similar movements like a machine, you’re putting a lot of strain on your muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones.

Over time, you may develop stress and repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel, a pulled muscle, or even nerve damage. Conditions like these can be covered by workers’ compensation benefits as long as it can be demonstrated that your job does, indeed, put you at risk of such conditions because of repetitive stress or motions necessary to complete work-related tasks.

Shoulder, Neck & Back Injuries

While injuries to the shoulder, beck, and/or back probably fall within either of the categories above, it’s worth pointing them out separately. This is because an injury felt in any of these locations could be the result of another injury in another location.

For example, you may experience an impact on your spine but feel numbness in your arm or hand. In this case, the injury occurred on your back, but you experienced its effects elsewhere on your body.

It’s for this reason that injured employees should be overly inclusive in describing their injuries. In the previous example, the employee shouldn’t just mention numbness in their hands or arms, they should include pain in their back from the impact as well.

Mental & Emotional Conditions

Mental and emotional conditions may be covered by workers’ compensation in California if the employee can prove that the condition exists, is severe enough to affect their ability to do their job, and was caused by their job.

For example, if someone witnessed the death of a coworker while on the job, they may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or another type of mental or emotional condition. If they are unable to safely perform their work duties due to mental trauma incurred as a result of their experience, they may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Are There Injuries Workers’ Comp Won’t Cover?

Yes. Most preexisting conditions, unless aggravated by a workplace injury, are ineligible for coverage. For example, if you have arthritis, you might not be successful trying to get workers comp benefits for pain in your hands from repetitive motions.

If you are denied workers’ compensation for an injury or illness you think should be covered, reach out to our legal team at Smolich and Smolich for help. Our attorneys have the experience and skill necessary to investigate your claim and help you fight for any benefits you may be entitled to take.

For more information, contact us online now.