Cumulative trauma claims are claims that are caused by repetitive work and involve various parts of the body: back, neck, hands, arms, shoulders, knees and feet. Under the new Oklahoma Workers' Compensation law, cumulative trauma must have resulted directly and independently above all other causes and the employee must have 180 days of continuous employment with the employer. This does not mean fatigue, soreness or general aches and pains connected with the employee's course and scope of his employment.
The benefits are determined by the law in effect at the time the employee knew or reasonably should have known the cumulative trauma was work related. The employee must give notice to the employer within six months after the first distinct manifestation of the cumulative trauma. In our opinion, the new law places a much higher burden of proof on the employee to prove that his injury was work related.
Furthermore, it establishes limitations periods that could bar a claim if the employee knew about the problem and did not report it within six months after the first distinct manifestation of cumulative trauma. Such a restrictive statute could bar many employees from pursuing a claim for cumulative trauma.
Bottom line, it is strongly recommended that all injured workers who have repetitive trauma injuries from continuous or repetitive work file their claim before February 1, 2014 to ensure that the current law rather than the new act applies.
Source: Art Adams