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Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month's expert is Zachariah Hansen of the Arns Law Firm. Ask Zachariah a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Visit The Arns Law Firm website.

I feel like my trade has damaged my body over time to the point where I can no longer work, but nothing specific ever happened. Can I still file for workers' compensation benefits?

Many workers in the building and construction trades experience this issue, and mistakenly believe that workers' compensation benefits are only available to workers that can point a finger at a specific moment in time that caused the injury. This is not true – workers in California are entitled to file workers' compensation claims for injuries that were caused by wear-and-tear damage, also known as cumulative trauma injuries.

Cumulative trauma injuries typically result from repetitive activities. Common examples include lifting and carrying heavy equipment over the course of a career, or prolonged use of equipment like a jackhammer or jumping jack compactor.
If you are unable to continue working in your trade due to damage sustained over the course of your career, you may be entitled to obtain workers' compensation benefits. The benefits available are no different between specific-type injuries and cumulative trauma injuries. However, cumulative trauma can be complicated to pursue, and for that reason you should consult with an attorney before filing a cumulative trauma claim on your own.

For additional advice as to what you should do in your specific situation, you should consult with attorneys who specialize in workers' compensation and personal injury claims as soon as possible, because these types of claims have strict rules and time limits to follow.

-Zachariah Hansen, The Arns Law Firm, San Francisco, CA
Ask Zachariah a question at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information on work-site accidents and
your legal options, visit the ARNS Website.

"Interaction via "Ask the Expert" does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results."


Zachariah Hansen

This Month's Expert; Zachariah Hansen

Zachariah Hansen has proven himself as an indefatigable litigator who has obtained outstanding results for the clients of The Arns Law Firm. Zach was actually a student in Bob Arns’ trial practice class at the University of San Francisco Law School for 3rd year law students. After the class was completed, Bob was so impressed with Zach’s ability, great heart for the cause, and calm demeanor in the heat of battle, he offered Zach a job. Zach has been dedicating his legal career to helping people who have been injured obtain the compensation they deserve.

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