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How can I prove that I have a repetitive motion injury from my job?

Orange, CA |

I injured my back at work in May of 2011 and have permanent damage. I returned to work a month after the injury but have felt weaker ever since. During the past year my shoulders have started to develop immense pain and it has gotten so bad that I cannot perform my job duties any longer. I drive a garbage truck and collect the garbage manually which means that I have a very repetitive and physical job. I decided to report my shoulder pain to my bosses and informed them that the pain has been developing gradually over the past year and since my back injury. I have been doing this job for 12 years by the way. They informed me while filling out the Worker's Compensation Claim forms that I need an exact date, time, and address for the injuries. I told them why if this is an RMI??? Please help.

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Attorney answers 6

Best Answer

Your employer is wrong. As was mentioned by another writer, a cumulative trauma, also referred to as a "CT", can come about based upon the repetitive nature of your job duties. This can be addressed by the doctor that your lawyer designates as your primary treating physician. An MRI of your shoulders should confirm an injury. If it does not there are other tests that your doctor can perform.

If you are in a union, I suggest you speak with your representative about filing a grievance.

A good doctor and a talented lawyer should be able to help.

Hang in there and choose wisely.


Michael Ian Rott, Esq., Managing Partner
2635 Camino del Rio South, Suite 306
San Diego, California 92108
Office: 619.296.5884, ext. 14
Fax: 619.296.5171
Cell: 619.252.2248

San Diego - El Centro

Please be advised that the advice provided does not create any attorney/client relationship; that due to the various state laws that the information provided is a general overview of work comp law, which might not be applicable to you, based upon the laws of your state. We will not file anything on your behalf nor protect any statute of limitations which might arise and recommend that you IMMEDIATELY consult legal counsel for advice.


You have a serious uphill climb, trying to connect a lower back injury to a shoulder injury. You certainly need an experience WC attorney to help you with this. Good luck.

If this information has been helpful, please indicate by clicking the up icon. Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Candiano is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Links:


No, what you need for this is a good local workers' comp lawyer. If you try to manage this yourself, without a lawyer, you will almost certainly lose.

This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice. If you want to have a free consultation with me, please contact me through AVVO.


It sounds like you have what's called a "continuing trauma" claim, meaning, there is no specific date and time, because like you said, it's getting worse over time from the repetitive nature of your job duties. What's important is that you notified your employer when the pain started. It sounds like they must have known that it was work related because you took off time for the back surgery. Did you tell them at the time it was due to work? This is key in a worker's compensation claim. You should have gotten an attorney for the 2011 case because now the surgery may have made it worse and the fact that you weren't given modified duties after the surgery. Your boss should have put you on modified duty. In California, lawyers are only allowed to recover 15% of your settlement by law. When you try to do this by yourself, it's not a good outcome for you because now it's going into "litigation". It may not be too late to get an attorney to get you back on track.


I agree with my colleagues. Find a good WC attorney here at or at CAAA is the association for attorneys here in CA who represent injured workers..


You are right on in understanding that the burden of proof is yours. The evidence you need is an expert medical opinion. An attorney can help put the pieces together to prove an injury. As for the claim form, you can put a range of dates - the continuous trauma period.

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