Workers’ Compensation for Carpal Tunnel
If you or a loved one developed carpal tunnel on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ comp.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system that allows injured workers to obtain a monetary recovery without the hassle of proving that the employer was somehow to blame. In exchange for this ease, the worker forfeits his or her right to file a personal injury claim in court. However, that does not mean that you or your loved one will not run into complications when dealing with your employer or its insurer.
When a claim involves repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel, insurers are more hesitant to pay out benefits. They’ll want to first put the injured party through a rigorous medical and background screening process. In the event that the insurance company challenges your carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim, retain the counsel of an experienced attorney. They can help you better understand the law and assert your rights.
Causes and Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel is a painful condition of the nerves that affects the hands, wrists and fingers. The syndrome is the result of repeated pressure on the median nerve, which is located within the carpal tunnel. It is a constricted passage of bones and ligaments that controls the movement of your fingers and runs the length of your forearm and into the palm of your hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome forms gradually and as the result of performing repetitive tasks. This is why it is commonly associated with an occupation. Common occupational causes of carpal tunnel include the following:
- Data entry
- Professional driving
- Assembling factory-line products
- Playing an instrument
- Using power tools
Symptoms of carpal tunnel vary by the stage of the condition. However, they commonly include wrist pain, swelling, wrist weakness and tingling.
In the early stages, carpal tunnel may be characterized by a swelling of the hands and wrists at the beginning of the day. As the condition progresses, that swelling may be accompanied by numbness and tingling over longer periods. Eventually, you may lose your ability to make a fist, grip small objects or perform the duties of your job. If left untreated, you may lose all feeling in your hands and fingers to the point where you can no longer discern hot from cold by touch alone.
Recouping Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Carpal Tunnel
Carpal tunnel can drastically interfere with your quality of life and your ability to perform your job. Surgical intervention can help treat the condition. However, you must still account for medical costs, recovery time and lost wages, each of which can take a major toll on your finances. To help offset the cost, you may consider filing a workers’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel. The question is, however, whether your injury qualifies for benefits.
Traditionally speaking, workers’ comp covers injuries that are the result of a workplace accident. Repetitive motion injuries are not the result of any discernible accident. Therefore, it is not uncommon for insurers to question whether the condition is the result of an occupational activity, a non-work-related hobby, a second job or a pre-existing health condition, such as diabetes or arthritis.
Workers’ comp is a no-fault system. But, when you file a claim for workers’ comp for carpal tunnel, you have the burden of proving that the condition developed solely or almost entirely as a result of working for the employer. You must give an approximate date of when you first started noticing symptoms, visit an employer-approved physician for diagnosis and inform your doctor of any non-work-related activities in which you partake in your free time.
Though doing the latter may seem counterintuitive to your claim. Especially if you are an avid knitter or enjoy a competitive match of tennis each weekend, you want to beat the insurer to the punch. Don’t try to hide anything, or even if you merely omit any information. The insurance company may claim the outside activity was the primary cause of your injury. However, by being up front with your doctor, he or she can assess your condition and determine the likelihood that inputting data on a computer for 30 years caused your injury rather than swinging a tennis racket on the weekends.
Fighting for the Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Deserve
Carpal tunnel claims can get very expensive for workers’ compensation insurance companies. Depending on the extent of damage, the recovery time may be anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Treatment often entails complete rest of the hands, fingers and wrists, and it may involve surgery. Individuals who catch the condition in the early stages have a high chance of recovery. On the other hand, persons who let the condition progress often never return to work. For all these reasons and then some, many insurers will fight tooth and nail to not pay out a claim.
During the claims process, you may hear it all, from “Your injury was a pre-existing one that you developed at another job,” to “Your piano-playing hobby led to the condition.” The insurer may also evoke state law to nitpick your claim. They’ll say that carpal tunnel is a work-related accident rather than an occupational disease. In the case of the former, you would have to prove that the condition occurred suddenly and violently. Which, as you may know, is typically not the case with carpal tunnel. If state law does agree that carpal tunnel is, in fact, an occupational disease, you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that your injury arose out of and during the course of employment. This may be difficult, especially if you file your claim only after letting the syndrome advance to the point where you can no longer perform your work duties.
Either way, expect your fight for workers’ comp benefits for carpal tunnel to be an uphill battle. The good news, however, is that you do not have to go at it alone.
Work With an Experienced Local Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation attorneys serve as advocates for workers who were wrongly denied benefits after sustaining a work-related injury or illness. These professionals are familiar with insurers’ tactics and the law. They use that knowledge to fight for favorable outcomes on clients’ behalf. If you or a loved one were wrongly denied benefits for carpal tunnel or believe you received a wrongful disability determination, seek the legal help you deserve. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!