Employees can be injured either as the result of specific traumatic events resulting in the immediate onset of symptoms (lifting something heavy, falling down, having something fall on top of you), or as the result of the cumulative effect of repetitive minute trauma like typing or working on an assembly line (referred to as “Gillette” injuries in Minnesota after the name of the case first establishing that such injuries are compensable.) Occupational diseases like asbestosis or silicosis resulting from exposure to various chemicals or noxious elements are also compensable.
The date of injury in specific traumatic event injuries is the date of the traumatic event. The date of injury in Gillette and occupational disease situations is the date of the “ultimate breakdown,” meaning the date the employee is first rendered disabled from working or the date the employee first requires significant treatment of his/her injury.
Employees can be injured in motor vehicle accidents while working. Under such circumstances, workers’ compensation benefits will be primary. Accidents that occur while commuting to or from work are generally not covered by workers’ compensation, unless the employee is required to use his/her vehicle in the performance of his/her normal work duties.