An injury is a sudden and traumatic event that promptly hurts you. See RCW 51.08.100 for the precise wording. An injury, which happens suddenly, should be distinguished from an occupational disease, which comes on slowly. The reason to keep these two concepts separate is that there are different proof requirements for each, and different statutes of limitation.
If you incur an injury on the job, you must file a Report of Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease within one year of the incident, (the injury statute of limitations), or else you lose your right to do so. Statute of Limitations.
Once you file this report, you then have an L&I claim.
Examples of injuries include:
Repetitive trauma is a series of little traumas over time that cause physical problems to the body because of their cumulative effect. They are a hybrid type of claim that could be both or either an injury or an occupational disease. An example of repetitive trauma is a jack hammer operator who wears out his hands and arms, a little bit everyday over the course of time. Each day causes a minor problem, but over time it becomes a major problem, and an L&I claim.
Too much is currently made of the distinction between Occupational Disease and Injury. Injured workers unfairly loose time, money, and resources when they are required to argue and prove the legal differences between different types of job related insults to their body. Sometimes the procedural and proof difficulties even cause these workers to lose their claims. This should not happen.
If you are caught between a rock and a hard spot where various employers and claims managers are pointing at each other and arguing injury vs occupational disease – Get legal help. If you are hurt on the job, your L&I claim should be allowed.