Under Iowa workers' compensation law, if you sustain a work injury that occurs over days, weeks or months then you have what we call a "cumulative trauma injury," sometimes referred to as a repetitive stress injury. Cumulative trauma injuries are commonly jobs that require daily repetitive motion. The injuries can include shoulder injuries like a torn rotator cuff, back injuries such as bulging or herniated discs, along with arm and elbow problems like carpal tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have a Cumulative Injury?
If you suspect that you have sustained a cumulative trauma injury then you should report the injury to your employer and request medical care and treatment. Even if you have previously seen a doctor on your own for the problem, it is important that you report the work injury as soon as you and/or your doctor think that the condition is work-related. Once you report the cumulative trauma injury, then it is likely that your employer's workers' compensation insurance will direct your medical care. They may ask you to see their doctor for an IME (independent medical examination), which is rarely independent if the insurance company is sending you.
What if They Send Me to Their Doctors?
If you do go to see a doctor for an initial evaluation after a cumulative trauma injury here are some pointers:
1. You should bring a copy of your job description.
2. You should be able to explain to the doctor what you do at work and the pain you have had in your injured area while doing your job.
3. Prepare to be interrogated by the doctor, but remain calm and answer his/her questions politely and in a straightforward manner.
There are many other things to consider in determining how to report a cumulative trauma injury, deciding whether to go see the insurance company doctor and how do deal with the insurance company doctor. For answers to these questions and more you should request a copy of our work injury book titled “Iowa Workers’ Compensation - An Insider’s Guide to Work Injuries” which includes 7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid if You are Hurt at Work, the Iowa Injured Workers Bill of RightsTM and much more. If you have questions or concerns now and need immediate assistance feel free to contact us online or call our office at (641) 792-3595 and ask for your free work injury evaluation. If one of our Iowa workers' compensation attorneys is not available, then ask to schedule an appointment which we can usually have set up within 24 hours.