If you've been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you should talk with your doctor about the potential cause of the condition. If your doctor determines that it was caused by your job, you may be able to file a worker's compensation claim to cover your medical costs. Here's a look at what you need to know about carpal tunnel syndrome and worker's compensation qualification.
What Exactly is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the nerves and tendons that run through the carpal tunnel of your wrist. The compression can cause discomfort including numbness, pain, weakness and other problems in your wrist and hand. It's typically caused by repetitive motion strain, which often happens if you're spending many hours a day completing the same movement or action, such as typing.
How Can You Prove That Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is Due to Work?
Even if your doctor tells you that they believe your job to be the cause of your carpal tunnel syndrome, you're still going to have to prove that in order to get compensation. Here's a look at what you have to prove.
- Your Job is to Blame – Since worker's compensation requires that your injury occur on the job, you'll have to show that your job has required a prolonged period of repetitive movements that could strain your wrist and hand. If you have a history of playing sports such as golf or tennis, you may have a harder time with this proof, because the worker's compensation company may claim that you could have suffered the injury from your sports. A worker's compensation attorney can help you work with your medical team to document your injury and the potential cause.
- You Can Meet the State's Classification – States classify carpal tunnel syndrome in one of two ways. It is either classified as a condition or an injury. Your attorney will be able to tell you which one applies where you live. In states where carpal tunnel syndrome is considered a condition, you'll have to be able to show the development and progression of symptoms in your medical records. If, however, your state views it as an injury, you may be required to show that your carpal tunnel is the result of a spontaneous action or appeared suddenly. This can be harder to show, though not always impossible.
What Kind of Evidence Do You Need?
In order for your carpal tunnel syndrome case to be successful, you'll have to be sure that you have the evidence to support your claims. A worker's compensation attorney can help you with this, and it's important to gather all of the documentation that you can. For example, the courts need to have clear evidence that your injury was caused by your job. If there's any margin of doubt, you may not receive an award. Your doctor's evaluation as well as statements from a physical therapist can help with this.
Consider how long you've been doing the job, how much time you spend daily doing those tasks and what kind of relief you get to ease strain during the day. It's in your best interest to retain the services of an attorney before you file your claim, because he or she will be able to tell you exactly what you should include in the filing and how that information can help your case. Sometimes, the states only require that you have more evidence in your favor than the worker's compensation company has against you. If you can show that, you may be able to earn a finding in your favor and receive worker's compensation benefits.