Most people believe you must have an accident to receive benefits under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Statute. These benefits include medical treatment, temporary total disability benefits to be paid while you cannot work, and even monetary awards for permanent disability as a result of your injury. While it is true that many employers are quick to address injuries following an obvious traumatic accident, this is not the only way that your work can cause injuries. Many people who perform “back-breaking” labor for a living, and many who don’t, may have a right to these benefits. Do you wake up in the morning with pain in your back or knees? Have you ever noticed occasional tingling or numbness in your hands? Is getting up out of a chair, or playing with your child a daily challenge? If you have not had an accident or injury to explain these pains, your job may be to blame and you may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits under the occupational disease statute. Many jobs that require repetitive motion, prolonged movements, or intense lifting can slowly cause injuries over time. These injuries are sometimes called “cumulative trauma” injuries, or “occupational injuries” for purposes of New Jersey Workers’ Compensation claims. Under the law, injuries “arising out of and in the course of employment, which are due in a material degree to causes and conditions which are or were characteristic of or peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process or place of employment.” What does this mean? The simplest way to explain an occupational claim is where the type of work you do or the place in which you perform your work has caused pain or injury over time. Common examples of occupational claims include back and shoulder injuries in jobs that require frequent or heavy lifting, carpal tunnel syndrome in jobs that require frequent typing or other fine motor movements, claims for pulmonary (breathing) injuries from jobs with exposure to chemicals or paints, and knee injuries in jobs that require frequent kneeling, bending, or squatting. There are many other ways your job could be contributing to your aches and pains. In New Jersey, injured workers’ can bring an occupational claim for up to “two years after the date on which the claimant first knew the nature of the disability and its relation to the employment.” If you think your job may have caused injury or disability over time, don’t let your entitlement to valuable medical treatment and other workers’ compensation benefits slip away.