Learn if your overexertion injury qualifies for benefits and how to file a claim
One of the most common yet often overlooked types of workplace injury is overexertion. Overexertion injuries occur when a worker pushes their body beyond its limits, whether by lifting heavy objects, performing repetitive motions, or engaging in strenuous physical activities without adequate rest. These injuries can result in severe and lasting harm, affecting a worker’s ability to perform their job and maintain their livelihood.
The silver lining? In Montana, workers who suffer from overexertion injuries on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical coverage and wage replacement. Keep reading to find out if you qualify for these benefits and how to file a claim.
What is an overexertion injury?
An overexertion injury is a type of strain or injury that occurs when the demands of a physical task exceed a person’s physical capability. This could involve lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying, throwing or any other strenuous activity.
Overexertion injuries are common in the workplace and can affect various parts of the body, most commonly the back, neck, shoulders, wrists and knees. These injuries often involve strains or sprains to muscles, tendons or ligaments and can result from a single incident or from repetitive motions over time.
Statistics on overexertion injuries
According to the National Safety Council, overexertion injuries are the second most common type of injury resulting in time off work, accounting for about 22% of all work injuries. The median number of days missed from work due to overexertion injuries is 14.
In 2020 alone, there were 255,490 injuries and 7 deaths attributed to work-related overexertion injuries.
Sprains, strains, and tears were responsible for the majority of overexertion injuries at work in 2020 (66%). Other common overexertion injuries that year included general soreness and pain (22%) and carpal tunnel syndrome (2%).
The trunk was the most affected area of the body, comprising 46% of all overexertion injuries.
Occupational illness and injury statistics in Montana
According to the Montana Occupational Injuries & Illnesses 2020 Report, the U.S. nonfatal injury rate was 2.7 per 100 workers in 2020, while the rate in Montana was 3.4 per 100 workers.
The most common injury that year was sprains, strains and tears, with 810 workers affected, followed by soreness and pain, with 660 workers affected. Cuts, lacerations and punctures came in third, with 360 workers affected.
The risk of muscle sprains and strains varied by industry, with the following numbers reported:
- Trade, transportation, and utilities – 290 injuries
- Educational and health services – 160 injuries
- Construction – 150 injuries
- Manufacturing – 80 injuries
- Leisure/hospitality – 70 injuries
- Public administration – 30 injuries
- Natural resources and mining – 20 injuries
These injuries most commonly resulted from the following events/exposures:
- Overexertion and bodily reaction – 960 injuries
- Falls, slips and trips – 920 injuries
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments – 820 injuries
- Contact with object/equipment – 590 injuries
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals – 200 injuries
- Transportation incidents – 120 injuries
Common overexertion injuries
“Overexertion injury” is an umbrella term used to describe a number of injuries that result from overusing a particular part of the body without allowing appropriate time for rest and recuperation. Here are some of the most common types:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Often associated with repetitive hand and wrist motions, such as typing or using vibrating tools, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of the median nerve in the wrist. It can result in pain, tingling or numbness in the hand and fingers.
- Tendonitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation or irritation of a tendon, which connects muscle to bone. It can occur from repetitive motions or overuse of a particular muscle group, commonly affecting the shoulders, elbows, wrists or knees.
- Strains and sprains. Strains and sprains occur when muscles, ligaments and tendons are stretched or torn due to excessive force, repetitive motions, sudden movements or improper lifting techniques, resulting in pain, stiffness and limited range of motion.
- Herniated discs. Overexertion and improper lifting techniques can lead to herniated discs in the spine. This occurs when a spinal disc slips out of place, causing pain, numbness or weakness in the back, neck or extremities.
- Rotator cuff injuries. Overexertion or repetitive overhead motions can lead to injuries in the rotator cuff, a group of tendons and muscles attached to the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff injuries can cause pain, limited range of motion, and weakness in the shoulder.
- Epicondylitis. Also known as tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) or golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), these conditions involve inflammation and pain in the tendons of the elbow. They often arise from repetitive motions or gripping activities.
- Heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Overexertion in hot environments without adequate hydration and cooling measures can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These conditions can be serious and require immediate medical attention.
Most common causes of overexertion injuries at work
Overexertion injuries at work can occur due to various causes, often involving excessive physical effort, repetitive motions, or prolonged activity. Here are some of the most common causes of overexertion injuries in the workplace:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Performing repetitive motions
- Maintaining prolonged or awkward body positions
- Pushing or pulling heavy loads
- Excessively reaching or bending
- Using vibrating tools
- Not having sufficient breaks or rest periods
- Not using proper lifting and bending techniques
- Working in extreme temperatures
- Performing rapid or intense physical activity
- Slipping, tripping, or falling
- Handling or using tools and equipment improperly
Preventing overexertion injuries requires proactive measures from employers, including providing proper training on safe work practices, implementing ergonomic solutions, promoting rest breaks and rotation of tasks, and ensuring sufficient staffing levels. Employees should also be encouraged to practice self-care, listen to their bodies, and report any signs of discomfort or pain to their supervisors.
Types of workers most likely to experience an overexertion injury
While any worker can suffer an overexertion injury, below are the types of workers most commonly affected:
What are the most common signs of overexertion injuries?
Symptoms of an overexertion injury will vary according to the location affected but may include any of the following:
- Muscle pain/spasms
- Swelling in the affected area
- Joint stiffness
- Limited flexibility or mobility
- Chest or abdominal discomfort
- Excessive sweating
- Elevated pulse rate
How long does overexertion pain last?
The duration of overexertion pain can vary significantly from person to person based on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s health status, and the treatment received. Here is a general timeline:
- Mild overexertion. Pain typically lasts for a few hours to a couple of days. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), as well as over-the-counter pain relievers, can usually manage the symptoms effectively.
- Moderate overexertion. For more significant strains or sprains, pain might persist for a few weeks. Proper care, including physical therapy and medications as prescribed by a health care professional, is often necessary for recovery.
- Severe overexertion. In cases of serious injuries, such as a torn muscle or ligament, the pain can last for several months and may require more intensive treatments, such as surgery and extensive physical therapy.
Montana’s workers’ comp eligibility
Montana workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that most Montana employers with even 1 employee are required by law to provide to their workers. It’s a type of no-fault insurance, meaning that a worker can receive benefits no matter who is at fault for their injury.
To qualify for benefits, a worker only needs to prove that their injury or illness was caused by their job. Injuries from one-time accidents as well as injuries, illnesses and diseases that develop over time (known as occupational illnesses) are covered under workers’ comp.
Types of workers’ comp benefits
Montana workers’ compensation provides certain benefits to injured workers, which may include the following:
- Wage loss benefits. These provide workers with two-thirds of their average weekly wage during recovery.
- Medical benefits. These cover all necessary medical appointments, procedures, surgeries, rehabilitation, medications and supplies.
- Death benefits. In the rare case that a worker dies from an overexertion injury, these benefits are provided to family members of the deceased and include funeral expenses and lost income.
Steps injured workers must take to file a workers’ comp claim in Montana
To get workers’ comp benefits after an overexertion injury in Montana, you need to take the following steps to initiate a claim:
- Seek medical care for your injury, which should ideally include a diagnosis and documentation that links your injury to your job.
- Report the injury/illness to your employer within 30 days of its occurrence/onset, preferably both verbally and in writing.
- Your employer will then complete and submit a First Report of Injury form (FROI) within 6 days of being notified of your injury/illness.
- Within 1 year from the date of the injury/illness, your employer will file a workers’ compensation claim with their insurance agency.
- Within 30 days of the workers’ compensation claim being filed, the insurance agency will make a decision to either approve or deny the claim.
- If your claim is denied or if it gets terminated before you’re able to return to work, then you and your workers’ compensation attorney can file an appeal within 2 years of the denial/termination of your claim.
Contact Murphy Law Firm for help with your overexertion workers’ comp claim
An overexertion injury isn’t always easy to tie to a work event, especially when it occurs slowly over time. If you’ve suffered an overexertion injury and are having trouble getting the compensation you need, contact the experienced work injury attorneys at Murphy Law Firm.
Our attorneys have more than 75 years of experience getting injured Montana workers maximum compensation for their injuries. Let us worry about the negotiations with your employer so you can focus on getting better.
Contact us today for an absolutely free case evaluation to learn more.