Attorney Esequiel Solorio is a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law as certified by The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization.

Does your job need to be the only cause of an injury?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | workers' compensation

Workers’ compensation can help employees who suffer from work-related injuries or illnesses. In California, one common question is whether the job needs to be the sole cause of an injury.

Employees may fear that they cannot receive compensation if something else contributed, even in a small way, to an injury or illness.

Multiple causes

In California, the workers’ compensation system follows the principle of “cumulative trauma.” It means even if the job is not the sole cause of an injury, employees may still be eligible for compensation. That is, if their job duties contributed to the injury over time. This is particularly relevant for injuries that develop gradually due to repetitive tasks or exposure to harmful conditions.

For instance, if a worker develops carpal tunnel syndrome from performing repetitive motions on the job, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, even if factors outside of work also contributed to the injury.


To qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in California, the injury must arise out of and occur in the course of employment. This means the injury occurred while the employee was performing job duties or engaging in activities related to work. However, it is not necessary for the job to be the only cause of the injury.

In cases with multiple contributing factors, such as pre-existing conditions or activities outside of work, determining the extent to which the job contributed to the injury can be complex. Medical evidence and documentation help establish eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

Ultimately, in California, the job does not need to be the sole cause of an injury for an employee to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.