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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

When working in an office setting, the last thing you expect is to suffer an injury, yet employees might experience injuries from repetitive motion, specifically carpal tunnel syndrome.

Many workers might not think they can obtain compensation or legal recourse for these injuries because there was no single accident or event that caused them. However, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel. Workers’ comp law categorizes carpal tunnel as a cumulative trauma injury resulting from repetitive traumatic movements, which can lead to a disabling condition without treatment.

To obtain workers’ comp benefits for carpal tunnel requires, speak to a local workers’ compensation lawyer.

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Medical Diagnosis

First get a medical assessment to determine if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Ligaments and bones surround the tunnel in your palm, creating a narrow passageway, and CTS happens when pressure pushes on the median nerve. Your wrist anatomy, repetitive hand motions, and other health problems can contribute to this injury.

You must have proper medical treatment to alleviate your symptoms, and diagnosis may come through a nerve conduction study or additional testing.

Some tests your doctors might administer include:

  • Physical examination of wrist and fingers
  • Lab tests
  • X-rays
  • Wrist manipulation to assess if you experience numbness or tingling
  • Ultrasound imaging

Experience Workers' Comp Attorney for Carpal Tunnel Cases in Orange County CA areaFirst, undergo a physician evaluation. Not only will they diagnose your injuries, but their assessment can document your condition and serve as evidence for a benefits claim.

A diagnosis is also the beginning of your workers’ compensation claim. When you receive a diagnosis, you must inform your employer as soon as possible. Many states have short deadlines for informing your employer about a work-related injury.

Aside from your initial doctor’s examination, the insurance company might also send you to one of their doctors because they want to verify your doctor’s findings. If they confirm your injury, workers’ comp insurers can authorize payment for your treatment while they continue their investigation into your overall claim.

Injury symptoms

Carpal tunnel symptoms often include numbness and weakness in your hands and arms. Minor symptoms can gradually increase with time.

Tingling and numbness

You might first notice numbness and tingling in your fingers and hands. These symptoms usually affect your thumb, middle, ring, and index fingers, yet they rarely damage your little finger.

The tingling and numbness can also feel like an electric shock, starting in your fingers and traveling up your arm, and may become more intense when you grip a phone, newspaper, or steering wheel. Sometimes, these symptoms can wake you from your sleep, and the numbness can become constant.

Weakness

Weakness can manifest in your hand and cause you to drop objects. You can lose strength because of your thumb’s pinched muscles, which are also attached to your median nerve. Often, the weakness stems from numbness in your hand.

You may also have difficulty grasping objects, feel a burning sensation, or lose total feeling in your hand, which can make a job where you must use your hands impossible. These symptoms might indicate that you suffer from carpal tunnel.

Carpal Tunnel and Your Job

The CDC reports an average of 900,000 new carpal tunnel cases annually nationwide. It is one of the most common repetitive motion injuries in workplaces. You can file a workers’ compensation claim; however, you need supporting medical records to show your job duties caused the condition.

You have a better chance of a workers’ comp approval if your daily work duties put stress on your wrists, where your job requires you to make awkward or repetitive motions that can lead to CTS. The professions most known for carpal tunnel are factory workers, typists, people who work on computers, and data entry clerks. Workers with a lesser risk, but still a risk, include butchers, grinders, frozen food factory workers, and grocery store employees.

You can file a workers’ compensation claim even if you leave your current job. Repetitive motion injuries take months to develop, meaning they might manifest after you leave your employment.

Even so, you can file a claim and might be eligible for lost income, permanent disability, and current and future medical treatment. Workers’ compensation can also offer payment for surgery, wrist braces, and other treatments. Work with a workers’ comp lawyer near you to seek full benefits.

Common Causes of Carpal Tunnel

There are various causes of carpal tunnel.

Constant or repetitive movement of your wrist causes your median nerve to swell, and this can happen when:

  • Your job requires repetitive wrist movement
  • Improper hand position or wrist support while typing on a keyboard or using a mouse
  • Exposure to power tool vibration

These injuries occur over time and result from multiple days of strenuous, repetitive motion, often occurring when you do the same hand-intensive activity for up to eight hours a day, five days a week.

Generally, women are more likely to develop CTS due to having a narrower nerve cavity.

Other groups who have a higher risk of suffering these injuries include:

  • Florists
  • Administrative workers
  • Truckers
  • Textile workers
  • Construction workers

No matter your profession, if you develop carpal tunnel from your job, speak to an attorney about your rights to benefits.

Treatment For Carpal Tunnel

Treatment options for carpal tunnel will vary depending on your symptoms and injury severity.

Some treatments include:

  • Splinting
  • Medication
  • Carpal tunnel release surgery
  • Rest
  • Avoiding painful activities
  • Alternative therapy like yoga

Doctors might order you to stop any repetitive motions that caused your injury, which might mean you cannot perform your job duties. Some people must miss work if there are no alternative duties for them at the office or job site.

Surgery is often the last resort for these injuries because it involves severing the ligament around the median nerve to reduce pressure. Your treatment does not end after surgery. You must also attend three to eight physical therapy sessions over three to five weeks, and total recovery for surgery is three months.

Returning to Work with Carpal Tunnel

Sometimes, employees can return to work after a CTS diagnosis. You might receive partial disability or workers’ comp while you are healing. You might perform some of your job duties, but your injury can hinder you, and your performance can suffer.

Doctors may restrict you to light-duty work, requiring you to make significantly fewer hand movements, and you may work in a different role, job, or occupation.

Whether you return to your previous employer or are in a new one, they must observe your medical restrictions. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a recognized disability and has protections under the law.

Some reasonable accommodations employers can provide include:

  • Additional breaks 
  • Flexible working hours when necessary
  • Approving time off for doctor’s appointments and treatments
  • Change in occupation to prevent other injuries
  • Providing special equipment that relieves further stress on the injury

The law has exceptions for accommodations.

An employer can deny accommodations if:

  • The accommodation is expensive
  • Small businesses cannot afford to make these accommodations
  • The job role does not allow for accommodations

Workers must follow their doctor’s treatment plan at work and home, where specific movements are restricted to prevent the progression of CTS.

If you need surgery, your post-surgery limitations may include:

  • Excessive writing
  • Repetitive wrist or hand movements or actions
  • Prolonged typing
  • Using vibrating tools
  • Job duties that initially caused the injury
  • Gripping, carrying, or holding items
  • Assembling small parts or intricate work.

Workers’ Comp And Carpal Tunnel

You can pursue workers’ compensation benefits for job-related carpal tunnel syndrome. The statewide system works on a no-fault basis, which means you can seek benefits without proving negligence on the part of your employer for your injuries.

Three essential elements of the workers’ comp arrangement include:

  • No-fault: Employers must pay benefits regardless of fault for the injury as long as the injury stems from employment.
  • Exclusive remedy: The worker cannot pursue additional recovery from the employer, including filing personal injury lawsuits and other legal action.
  • Assured and fixed benefits: The worker’s compensation system allows certain benefits, but often less than an employee might receive in a personal injury claim.

You can begin the process by contacting a local workers’ compensation attorney. If you already filed a claim, and the insurance company denied it, delayed it, or offered less compensation than you deserve, always consult a workers’ comp lawyer immediately.

Disputes and Denials For Carpal Tunnel

One of the main reasons these claims are complex is that you must prove your carpal tunnel syndrome resulted from your occupation and that it happened during your employment. If you engage in repetitive motion as part of your job, you might think the cause of your injury is obvious. However, insurance companies might allege that other activities in your life caused your condition.

If an insurer claims your carpal tunnel is not work-related, speak with a workers’ comp attorney right away. They can present evidence to show the true cause of your injury was your job, and you deserve benefits.

An insurance company might deny your claim for procedural mistakes or disputes between treating doctors. For example, if your employer claims they received late notice of your injury, the insurer might deny your claim. If your doctor recommends you undergo surgery, the insurance company might refuse to cover the costs if their independent doctor does not believe you need surgery.

Sometimes, an insurance company might grant you benefits, only to stop them too soon. You might still need to recover from your injury and take a hiatus from work, and your benefits may end. The insurer might claim you do not need any more time away from work or that your condition does not require additional medical treatment.

If you face any disputes or denials regarding your workers’ comp claim, you need legal representation from a workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. They can assess the situation and fight for the benefits you deserve.

A disability Rating For Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel can be disabling for some people. When evaluating a disability, the American Medical Association Guides is the standard. Chapter 16 of the guide measures the loss of sensation through the median nerve in the hand and fingers, and often, the results from a nerve conduction study will offer sufficient evidence to compare to the AMA Guide.

Depending on your rating, you may qualify for disability benefits from the workers’ compensation insurer, and seek legal assistance to obtain the proper financial support for an ongoing disability.

Workers’ Comp Settlements

Sometimes, instead of paying ongoing monthly benefits, an insurance company will offer a lump-sum settlement.

No two claims are the same, and several factors can affect your settlement amount:

  • Your medical evidence supporting your claim
  • Weekly pay before your injury
  • If your injury occurred at work
  • Your age
  • Recovery time
  • Pain from the injury
  • Occupation
  • Length of employment with the company.

Never accept a lump-sum settlement from workers’ comp without the advice of a lawyer. A settlement effectively ends your claim, and your monthly benefits will end. The settlement funds must cover your medical expenses and lost income for the length of your disability. If you accept too little, you can rarely reopen the claim and request additional benefits.

A lawyer can review a settlement offer and advise whether it is fair, given your circumstances.

Greg Bentley & Keith More - Experience Workers' Compensation Attorney for Carpal Tunnel Cases near Orange County CA area

Greg Bentley & Keith More Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Orange County

Speak to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today

The sooner you get legal representation, the more advantageous it is for your claim. Your employer will not be hands-on with the claim because they have an insurance carrier who will act on their behalf. You need legal representation to seek your deserved benefits for carpal tunnel.

Get a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Orange County today.

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