Statistics indicate that there is an increase in the occurrence of repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome among those who spend their whole day stationed in one place. Even though the injury is a direct result of the job, the law does not allow you to sue your employer. Instead, there are workers compensation laws and benefits to compensate injured workers.
What is carpal tunnel syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by excessive compression of the median nerve and the tendons that allow your fingers to flex. Compression of the nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel usually results in pain, numbness, and weakness of the hand and wrist. There are other factors which can cause the syndrome including age, pregnancy, weight, and trauma, but the main culprit is usually situations whereby one is performing repetitive tasks such as:
• Using a cash register
• Slicing, pushing or pressing objects without adequate rest
To deal with the syndrome, a surgery known as carpal tunnel release may be needed. Other non-surgical treatments offered for the condition include physical exercise, splinting, rest, and steroid injections, all of which come at a cost. It is the medical expense which pushes people to look for compensation. There is also the fact that the condition can affect the person’s ability to perform their job adequately or at all.
Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work-related injury?
The law allows workers to seek compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome, as long as they can prove that the injury happened on the job. The hard task, therefore, is determining whether or not the injury happened at work or was caused by a non-work related factor. For instance, you could be doing a job that demands a lot of typing, but you also may play tennis or have a condition such as diabetes. The employer may argue that your problem was caused by the other factors and not the workplace situation.
Accident or occupational disease?
Another issue that arises when looking for worker’s compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome is whether or not it should be classified as an accident or an occupational disease. If carpal tunnel syndrome is classified as an occupational disease in your state, you may receive compensation if you can prove that your job exposed you to a higher risk of getting the disease as compared to the general public. On the other hand, if it is classified as an accident, you will have the responsibility to convince the jury or insurance adjuster that your employer is responsible for causing the injury.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer
The first reason to hire a lawyer for your worker’s compensation case is the fact that the burden of proof falls squarely on you. Your situation may require that you get a lawyer who can convince the judge, jury, or insurance adjuster beyond any reasonable doubt that you deserve compensation.
If you have an injury claim as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may benefit from having a seasoned lawyer who can gather the evidence and present it in a manner that increases your chances of collecting full benefits. If your damages are so extensive that workers compensation insurance is insufficient, you may be forced to take your employer to court.