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What if your job is not the sole cause of your injury?

In California, workers’ compensation is a safety net. It can protect employees who sustain injuries or illnesses on the job.

Contrary to popular belief, you can still be eligible for workers’ compensation even if your job was not the sole cause of your injury but a contributing factor.

Contributing factors

Workplace injuries or illnesses often stem from multiple factors rather than a single cause. The California workers’ compensation system recognizes this reality. It allows for benefits even if the job was only one of several contributing causes.

For example, suppose an employee develops carpal tunnel syndrome due to repetitive tasks performed at work. This person also has a history of similar activities outside of work. The employee may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Similarly, take an employee who works as a delivery driver for a courier company. Over time, the constant lifting and carrying of heavy packages lead to chronic back pain. However, outside of work, this employee enjoys weightlifting at the gym.

The repetitive nature of the job as a delivery driver significantly contributes to the development of the employee’s back injury. The combination of lifting heavy packages at work and engaging in weightlifting activities outside of work worsens the strain on the employee’s back.

The employee may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages associated with the back injury.


The burden of proof falls on the injured worker to show that the job played a significant role in causing the injury or illness. This often involves providing medical evidence, testimony from medical professionals and documentation of work-related activities that contributed to the condition.

Navigating the workers’ compensation claims process in California can be complex. This may especially be true with cases involving multiple contributing causes. Understanding the role of contributing factors is helpful for workers to get the benefits they have a right to.