Repetitive Use Injuries
Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf was recently asked to speak to a large group of people who had been laid off when a manufacturing plant closed. We talked to the group, and then we sat down with each of the individuals in the group. What we found out really surprised us. A great many of the workers had serious conditions for which they had not made claims. When we asked why, they typically said, “I didn’t have a specific injury. It just happened over time.” Most of them had worked at the plant for many years, and they had done things like lifting, kneeling, climbing, all kinds of repetitive, stressful work, but they were all under the impression that you can’t make a claim for worker’s compensation unless you sustain a specific injury.
Wrong! In Wisconsin, a condition is work-related not only if it happens because of a specific injury, but also if the work you do over a period of time contributes to that condition. The most obvious example is occupational hearing loss. That doesn’t happen at one moment. You lose hearing over a period of years of exposure to noise. The same thing is true of knee problems and back problems and shoulder problems. It is also true of lung problems and heart problems and other disease processes.
Under the law of Wisconsin, if your work contributes to the development or progression of a physical problem, the condition is work-related and must be paid for by the worker’s compensation insurance company. Under Wisconsin law, work doesn’t have to be the only cause or even the main cause. If the repetitive work is one of the contributing factors, the whole thing is work-related.
So, if you have a condition like that, talk to us. We’ll analyze it for you free of charge. Call us today at 414-257-2667.