Cumulative trauma injuries are those that develop over time as a result of excessive wear and tear on a certain muscle, tendon or nerve. Cumulative trauma disorder can develop as a result of work repetition, positioning or force. Examples of CTD include carpal tunnel, tenosynovitis, Raynaud’s Syndrome and De Quervain’s Disease. CTDs are a major occupational issue in California and throughout the United States and affect approximately three percent of the adult population. If left untreated, they can lead to chronic pain, swelling, reduced function or complete loss of function. For this reason, CDS are usually compensable work injuries in California.
According to the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, cumulative trauma claims have grown by 50 percent in the past decade in California. Los Angeles and San Diego generate the most CT claims, with 75 percent of all CT claims coming from those regions, compared with just 50 percent of other claims. Though CT claim growth is spread across many industries in the state, the report indicates that the majority of claims come from workers in the Hospitality and Manufacturing sectors. According to the report, lower wage workers file the most CT claims.
The report further reveals that 40 percent of cumulative trauma claimants file their claims after their employers terminate employment. As many as 75 percent of CT claims receive an initial denial. When insurance companies do approve these types of claims, they typically take much longer to process and pay the claim than if they were dealing with specific injury claims. However, the wait is often worth it for claimants, as the cost of CT claims are higher than for single injury claims.
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