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What Types of Injuries Qualify for Workers Compensation

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Work Injuries Under California Workers' Compensation Law

Any injury or disease arising out of employment is a work injury that potentially qualifies for workers' compensation benefits.1 The following types of injuries are recognized under the California law:

  1. A specific Injury happens as one definable event such as lifting a heavy box or falling from a platform.
  2. A cumulative trauma injury is due to repetitive work activities that cause minor strain over time.
  3. A cumulative exposure injury is due to continuous exposure to toxic substances such as cleaning supplies or chemicals used in manufacturing.

If an injured worker needs medical treatment or is unable to work due to any of the above recognized injury types, then they have a claim for workers' compensation benefits.2

Where the employer has valid workers compensation insurance, the employee is excluded from suing their employer in civil court for personal injury damages. Instead, the employee is limited to the benefits provided through a workers' compensation claim.  Fortunately, these benefits apply even where there is no negligence and therefore provide a safety net for all workers in California.

Damage to personal property is not a recognized injury type. Therefore, claims for damage to personal property may be pursued in civil court.

Napolin is a workers' compensation lawyer available to discuss your specific situation and legal rights over the phone. Want to learn more to see if you qualify? More information on what types of injuries qualify for workers' compensation below.

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    California Work Injury Lawyer


    Specific Injury Defined

    A specific injury is "the result of one incident or exposure which causes disability or need for medical treatment."3 This is the most common and recognizable injury that arises from specific event that is realizable at the time.

    Common Types of Specific Injuries

    1. Slip and falls
    2. Fires causing burns
    3. Auto Accidents
    4. Objects falling from elevated placement
    5. Falls from elevated platforms
    6. Machine crush incidents
    7. Electrocution

    Cumulative or Continues Trauma Injury Defined

    Cumulative or continues trauma injuries do not occur as a single incident like specific injuries. Instead, these types of injuries are due to "repetitive mentally or physically traumatic activities extending over a period of time, the combined effect of which causes any disability or the need for medical treatment."4

    The amount of time necessary to develop a cumulative trauma injury can be quite short. It could happen over the course of a day or even a couple of hours.

    Common Types Cumulative Trauma Injuries

    1. Picking up and moving heavy items over time leads to a bad back, knees, or shoulders.
    2. Constant use of the hands in manufacturing leads to arthritis, carpel tunnel and other hand disease.
    3. Climbing up and down ladders creates extra wear and tear on the joints.
    4. Consistent exposure to stress results in a heart attack.
    5. Driving all the time or operating heavy equipment puts a lot of mileage on the lower back.
    6. Wearing heavy equipment over time leads to orthopedic injury that could require surgical intervention.

    Cumulative Exposure Injury or Occupational Disease

    "Any abnormal condition or disorder caused by exposure to environmental factors associated with employment, including acute and chrnoic illnesses or diseases which may be caused by inhalation, absorption, ingestion, or direct contact."5

    Common Types of Occupation Disease

    1. Lung Cancer due to exposure to asbestos
    2. Hearing loss due to exposure to loud noise.
    3. HIV where exposure to blood or bodily fluids puts the employee at heightened risk of infection.


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    1. Labor Code § 3208
    2. Labor Code § 3600(a)
    3. Labor Code § 3208.1
    4. Labor Code § 3208.1
    5. Labor Code § 6409