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  • Writer's pictureMike Liebert

Types of Work Injuries

In worker’s compensation law, there are two types of injuries: a specific injury and a cumulative trauma injury.


Most people know what a specific injury is - injuries that occur at a specific time in a specific place, while performing duties required for your employment. This kind of injury is rather straightforward.

In fact, Labor Code 3208.1 specifically states that a specific injury is one that occurs “as the result of one incident or exposure which causes disability or need for medical treatment.”

Examples of Specific Injuries:

  1. You are a UPS driver and you are carrying a package. A dog chases after you and you get bit. Or maybe you slipped climbing the stairs to the residence you are heading towards. You are on the clock and were injured doing your job.

  2. You are a construction worker. You are on the roof of a new house and slip, falling off the scaffolding unit. You are working and suffered an injury due to the nature of the job.

  3. You are sitting at your desk for your office job when a client walks in. You stand up to greet him or her and as you are walking around the desk, you trip over your space heater and fall to the ground. This occurred during your employment and is therefore work related.

These injuries all occurred at a specific place, on a specific date, and at a specific time. I would file your case listing that date of injury and the body parts you hurt.


Cumulative trauma injuries are much more difficult to understand. According to the labor code, section 3208.1 states that cumulative trauma claims are “occurring as repetitive mentally or physically traumatic activities extending over a period of time, the combined effect of which causes any disability or need for medical treatment. The date of a cumulative injury shall be the date determined under Section 5412.”

In English, a cumulative trauma claim occurs over the court of time, i.e. “cumulative.” These types of claims are much more common but also very easily overlooked.

Examples of Cumulative Trauma injuries:

  1. You are a carpenter working with your hands on a daily basis. After working for days/months/years doing the same type of work, you notice your grip strength begins to worsen.

  2. You work for a moving company and have for the past 6 months. You notice back aches that seem to be getting worse and worse every day.

  3. You are a teacher, on your feet every day. Each night, your feet and ankles are swollen from having to stand all day.

With these injuries, people are likely (vaguely) aware that their aches/pains/injuries are work related, but in most cases, they are not sure whether they can do anything about it.

This is where I come in. I will discuss your potential claim with you in great detail, allowing us to solidify your date of injury. It will be listed as a period of time on your application and will be filed with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board.

There are many factors that go into these particular claims, specifically Labor Code 5412, which indicates the end date for a cumulative trauma. There are limits to how far out you can file your claim, but the clock does not start until “the employee...either knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, that such disability was caused by his present or prior employment.” Labor Code 5412.

This section is very important and is something we will discuss after you allow me to represent you. If you just now realize you could have a worker’s compensation claim, after reading this post, contact me. I can help to get you the help you need to move forward with your claim.

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