In Georgia, like many other states, you only have 30 days from the date of a work-related injury to notify your employer—otherwise, you may lose your entitlement to any workers’ compensation claim for it.
This rule has provoked a lot of lawsuits over the years involving repetitive motion injuries, simply because it isn’t easy to point to any one date or incident that caused the injury.
Repetitive motion injuries, by definition, occur over time with each repeated action. The additional damage from each action is so small that it can’t be measured on its own. Only the cumulative damage can eventually be seen. Many people don’t even realize they actually have a work-related injury unless expressly told so by their doctors. Instead, they chalk their damaged joints up to simple aging. Even once they do know the connection between their condition and their job, many workers keep working because the condition isn’t yet severe or disabling.
When that happens, there can be a lot of legal wrangling over when the clock on those 30 days started ticking.
Is it when you first got your diagnosis or when you first learned that the condition was being caused by your work, not just age? Was there a singular moment, a “final straw” that let you know that your body just couldn’t take any more damage?
For example, maybe you’ve known for a while that your prepatellar bursitiswas related to your tile laying job—but up until now the pain and occasional swelling was manageable. Your doctor never suggested that you quit working or change jobs. You took the anti-inflammatory medication your doctor prescribed, used ice when you had a flare, started wearing knee pads to work and took breaks to minimize the continual strain.
Then, one morning, you start to kneel down to lay a tile and the pain was more than you could take. Maybe, instead, you finish a shift one day and have swelling that’s red and inflamed and won’t go away. Perhaps your doctor finally tells you that you need to quit working or find a new occupation altogether because of your injury.
Many insurance companies will deny repetitive motion injuries by insisting that the employer wasn’t notified within the 30-day time limit. At that point, you need the help of a workers’ compensation attorney like those at our firm to help you fight for your benefits.