Delaware Workers’ Compensation Benefits – How do I know if I have a work injury?

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heather_long_sq_as11 Heather A. Long, Esq.

I heard a great joke over the weekend that seems fitting for this particular article. While I’m certainly no stand-up comedienne, it went something like this: There was a bus driver taking a group of elderly folks home from a casino trip. A short while into the ride home, the man sitting behind the driver tapped him on the shoulder and offered him some peanuts. The driver gladly accepted the treats. As the trip went on, the man kept offering the bus driver peanuts, and the bus driver happily munched as he drove the pleasant folks back home. After some time, the bus driver asked the man why he didn’t just eat the peanuts himself.  “I can’t eat them because of my dentures” the man said. The bus driver then asked the man why he bought all those peanuts if he couldn’t eat them anyway. The man replied to the bus driver that he just loved the chocolate coating. The moral behind that joke is to never take anything at face value.

How does the peanut joke tie into work injuries? Very simply, don’t take the words of your employer or their insurance company as fact before you do your own investigation and perhaps even consultation with an attorney regarding your case.  This is especially true if you are told that your injury is not work-related.

Normally it is very easy to figure out if you have sustained a work injury. In the simplest scenario, an injury would occur while someone is working and while on their employer’s premises. Not all injured workers are lucky enough to fall into this category though. Some injuries might not become noticeable until after the worker has gone home for the day.

Injuries that occur over a long time are classified as “cumulative detriment” injuries. This means that your injury develops little by little over time, and typically as the result of overuse of your hands, arms or back. The most common type of this type of injury is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can result from the overuse of your hands, especially when your wrist is positioned lower than your hands.  Common activities that can cause this include typing, driving, using a cash register or working on an assembly line. Women are more often affected by this, and according to some publications, the highest incidence occurs to women between 30 to 60 years of age.

Cumulative detriment injuries are often denied in the early stages of the workers’ compensation claim because it can be difficult to prove where the injury came from. It is up to the injured worker to prove that their injury happened as a result of their job. Digressing back to the joke from above, this is the point where the injured worker can either take the peanuts that their employer hands to them, or they can question the employer and ask for their chocolate coating. Many injured workers, like the bus driver, that are faced with this initial denial simply give up their claim and accept the peanuts that are being offered.

This is exactly the scenario where the injured worker needs to look for their chocolate coating, so to speak. Advice from their doctor (and attorney) as to whether they have a valid work injury will provide insight and guide the injured worker in their decision on whether to appeal the denial and pursue workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Compensation laws dealing with cumulative detriment injuries and whether you are in the course and scope of your employment when you are injured can be difficult to figure out.
A consultation with a lawyer who specializes in this area will be able to give you insight as to whether your particular injury qualifies for Workers’ Compensation benefits.
All of the lawyers in my firm, including myself, offer consultations for work injuries. The consultations are free, and the insight into your claim could be invaluable to your future health and benefits.


Heather has been an attorney for over five years, and is currently practicing workers’ compensation and personal injury law at Kimmel, Carter, Roman & Peltz, P.A. with offices in Newark and Wilmington. Heather worked her way through law school as a paralegal in a personal injury firm. After passing the bar exam, she spent several years working as a defense attorney, representing local, regional and national companies. With the knowledge gained of the inner-workings of these companies, she now represents injured workers and personal injury plaintiffs.

Heather is a graduate of Widener University School of Law, and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Prior to attending law school, she was licensed as a paramedic and spent time volunteering for her local ambulance corps. She is also active as a coach and judge for the Delaware High School Mock Trial Competition.

Heather is licensed to practice law in: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, please call
(302) 565-6100 or e-mail her directly at HLong@kcrlaw.com.

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Heather Long_Pg_58_ad_Generic_CMYK_KCRP_3-2011-HR edited

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