Soft Tissue Injuries in the Auto Industry
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Chicago Area Residents
Soft tissue injuries include damage to ligaments, tendons, and muscles. They may include contusions, strains, sprains, bursitis, and tendinitis. Often soft tissue injuries happen during exercise and sports. However, they can also occur on the job, and they can take a long time to heal even with appropriate treatment, which may mean an extended period of disability. Sometimes insurers deny valid claims or dispute the amount of time for which you are considered disabled by a soft tissue injury. If you have questions about your legal rights following a soft tissue injury in the auto industry, a dedicated Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and options.
Soft Tissue Injuries in the Auto Industry
Soft tissue injuries can involve overuse or acute injuries. Overuse injuries happen over time because there is a repetition of a particular activity such that the body cannot heal between repetitions. Bursitis and tendinitis are overuse injuries. Acute injuries occur if there is a sudden blow, twist or fall, and the result is a contusion, strain, or sprain.
Sprains are stretches or tears of ligaments, the connective tissue that links bones and supports the joints. Sprains can vary in severity, but often the initial treatment is rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). There are three grades of sprains. Mild sprains can involve stretching and damage to ligament fibers. RICE may be all that’s needed, but sometimes it is also necessary to go through physical therapy. Moderate sprains often involve partial tearing of the ligament, and may be treated through bracing for extended periods of time. When there is a complete tear of the ligament, such that the joint is substantially instable and unusable, it is a grade 3 sprain. In some of those cases, injured parties need surgery for complete repair.
Strains are distinct from sprains. They are soft tissue injuries as well, but they involve damage to tendons or muscles. The tendons are cords of fiber linking muscle to bone. Strains can occur in your back, leg, or foot. They also vary in severity, and might involve cramping, inflammation, swelling, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, and pain. Often strains are treated similarly to sprains, but surgery can be required for strains that involve tearing.
Contusions are bruises that arise when you fall or get crushed against a hard surface. For example, if you fell and your arm was momentarily pinned beneath equipment at the auto manufacturing plant, you might have a contusion. RICE might work to heal it.
On the other hand, if you suffer bursitis or tendinitis, you probably got the injury through repetitive action and stress. The bursae, which are implicated in bursitis, are small sacs of a jelly-like substance that cushion the friction of movement between bones and soft tissues, and if they are stressed or overused, one or more bursa may swell. Often anti-inflammatories help, but sometimes fluid needs to be removed from the bursa. Tendinitis involves the tendons. For example, if you repeatedly lift heavy equipment for your auto industry job, you might get tendinitis. Tendinitis can be treated with anti-inflammatories, steroid injections, exercises, and splinting, but in some cases involving serious tendon damage, surgery might be necessary.
Benefits for Soft Tissue Injuries
You can obtain workers’ compensation benefits if you can show a relationship between your soft tissue injuries and your job, and a work injury lawyer can help you put forth your claim. It’s often more straightforward to get workers’ compensation benefits with an acute soft tissue injury than it is with an overuse injury. Often there are witnesses to workplace accidents that result in acute soft-tissue injuries, and there is no question about the date of the injury or onset of your condition. Sometimes insurers are skeptical of soft tissue injuries, however, and they may question the relationship between your injury and your job. Insurers sometimes conduct surveillance on workers with soft tissue injuries to see whether there might be another activity, like lifting weights or playing sports, that could have caused the injury or that is preventing the claimant from healing faster.
Often workers with soft tissue injuries cannot work for a certain time period or must have modified duties. Disability benefits can partially replace lost wages in cases where workers are completely disabled for a temporary period, or partially disabled but still able to do limited work.
Consult a Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Chicago
If you have suffered soft tissue injuries in the auto industry in Chicago, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can help you assert your legal rights. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent workers injured in Rockford, Quincy, Champaign, and Aurora, as well as Winnebago, Adams, Kane, Sangamon, and Cook Counties. Contact us at 312-724-5846 or by completing our online form.