If you’re like many people, your job requires you to perform the same or similar tasks every day. You probably also know that your employer is legally required to protect you from being injured while you’re on the clock – but can you sue for a repetitive strain injury, or RSI, that you suffered at work?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?
A repetitive strain injury, which is commonly simply called an RSI, is an umbrella term. It refers to soft-tissue injuries that result from repetitive activity. People who have jobs that require them to do a lot of repetitive tasks often suffer these types of injuries.
Some repetitive strain injuries are more serious than others are. They can lead to missed work – and in some cases, make it difficult for people to perform normal daily activities, such as getting dressed, driving or cooking.
Common Repetitive Strain Injuries
Some of the most common types of repetitive strain injuries include:
- Tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Hand-arm vibration syndrome
- Vibration white finger
- Ulnar neuropathy
Here’s a closer look at each.
Tennis or Golfer’s Elbow
Tennis elbow (sometimes called golfer’s elbow, depending on which sport you prefer) is technically named lateral epicondylitis, and it’s a painful condition caused by overloaded tendons in the elbow. Usually, this is a result of repetitive motions of the wrist and arm. Plumbers, carpenters, butchers and painters are often victims of this painful condition.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
The carpal tunnel is a passageway that leads through your wrist to the palm side of your hand. It’s where the median nerve lives, and it’s surrounded by bones and ligaments. When something compresses that nerve, numbness, tingling and weakness can result. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be a consequence of repetitive motion, such as using vibrating tools, working on an assembly line in a position that requires you to flex and extend your wrist many times throughout the course of a day. Mouse use and keyboard use may also be contributing causes – but those are still being researched by scientists.
Related: Leg pain after a car accident
Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
Hand-Arm vibration syndrome, or HAVS, is a catch-all term for “vibration-induced neurological, vascular and musculoskeletal” disorder in the hand and arm system, according to NIOSH. Generally, this syndrome comes from people using chain saws, grinders, jackhammers, riveters and drills, and symptoms include tingling, numbness and pain in the fingers. It can also cause discoloration of the fingers and a weakened grip from damage to the nerves and blood vessels in the area.
Vibration White Finger
Vibration white finger – technically Raynaud’s syndrome – generally occurs in people who operate power tools, vehicles and heavy equipment and are subjected to hand-arm vibration often. It’s an irreversible condition that causes the blood vessels in the affected fingers to collapse completely. The worst part is that once you start noticing symptoms, it’s too late.
Ulnar neuropathy can occur when the ulnar nerve is trapped and compressed. It often happens near the elbow, but it can occur anywhere from your elbow all the way down to your hand. Often, repetitive movements can cause this injury (although it can have other causes, as well).
Can You Sue for Repetitive Strain Injury?
Employers are supposed to protect workers as best they can. In fact, employers typically have a duty of care to try to protect employees from repetitive strain injuries. You may want to consult an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles if you’ve experienced a repetitive strain injury because of your job, because you may have a claim against your employer. Remember, too, that when you make a claim against your employer, state and federal laws protect your job.
You can even make a claim against a former employer.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Suing for a Repetitive Strain Injury at Work?
If you need to talk to a lawyer about whether you can sue or file a claim against your employer for a repetitive strain injury you may have suffered while working, we can help. Call us at 818-230-8380 to schedule your free consultation with an attorney. We’ll answer your questions and help you get started on the right path.