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Do You Know the Rule? Fla. Repetitive Trauma Claims

23 Oct, 2023 Chris Parker

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In Florida, an accidental injury is compensable if it arises out of work performed in the course and scope of employment. This is the case even if the injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, arises out of repeated trauma.  

The only catch is that it’s more difficult for a worker to establish such an injury and link it to work. But the worker can do so if he or she can satisfy one of the tests below. 

Test for compensability – not involving exacerbation of a pre-existing injury 

The three-part test, which arose out of judicial cases, provides that a repetitive trauma injury is compensable if: 

Three-part test 
There was prolonged exposure; 
The cumulative effect of the prolonged exposure is injury; and 
The employee was subjected to a hazard greater than that to which the general public is exposed. 

Note: The third prong may no longer apply. An appeals court appeared to eliminate it in Rodriguez v. Frito-Lay, Inc., 600 So. 2d 1167 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992) 

Test for compensability – involving exacerbation of a pre-existing injury 

An employee may also obtain benefits for repetitive trauma that aggravates a pre-existing condition. Under those circumstances, there is a four-part test. 

Four-part test – exacerbation of preexisting injury 
There was prolonged exposure; 
The cumulative effect of the prolonged exposure is aggravation of a pre-existing condition;  
The employee was subjected to a hazard greater than that to which the general public is exposed; and  
The preexisting injury must have been exacerbated by: Some non-routine, job-related physical exertion; or Some form of repeated physical trauma 

Burden of proof 

An employee seeking to establish a work injury based on repetitive trauma must meet a stringent standard. The worker must establish by clear and convincing evidence that: 

(1) The repeated motion caused the injury or disease; and
(2) The worker was subjected to sufficient exposure to cause the injury or disease.  

Workers' Comp. 101: “Clear and convincing evidence” is higher than the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Clear and convincing evidence is evidence of a quality and character designed to produce in the decisionmaker’s mind a firm belief or conviction, without hesitation, as to the truth of the allegations. 


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