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Is Cumulative Trauma An Injury in Workers Compensation?


Term Of The Day – Cumulative Trauma

An injury diagnosed by a physician as occurring without bodily injury being the direct cause of loss. Cumulative Trauma includes injury caused by continual stress and strain. Such injury may be casually related to a person’s job and may be due to repetitive traumatic acts.

Picture Of Hand With Cumulative Trauma Scars
Wikimedia Commons – HenrykGerlach

The classic cumulative trauma injury for many years was Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and and the associated very paniful DeQuervains Syndrome.   Fortunately, these two injuries were addressed by the employer community.  The incident rates dropped by 50%.

The bane of many adjusters resulted from determining whether or not cumulative injuries were compensable under their state’s Workers Compensation Act.

Cumulative trauma was more than just diseases of the wrists. The trauma also covered:

  • Back injuries
  • Knee strains
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Basically any joint stress over time

Many states identified a specific traumatic incident as the determining factor.  Over the years, many of these states expanded a traumatic incident over weeks or month instead of one instance in time.

The modifications to the definition usually came from Workers Compensation Board or Appeals Court cases.

One data phenomenon concerns cumulative trauma and plant closing.   Repetitive motion injuries spiked due to workers working with their injuries. At the time of a plant closing, the workers would report their cumulative trauma injuries that they worked with over the years.

Each state has specific legal cases or statute that determine whether or not an injury is compensable.

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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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