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Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is a Work Injury

Carpal tunnel syndrome causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand, particularly around the thumb and the three fingers nearest to it, and up into the arm. Pressure on the median nerve causes it.

Carpal tunnel can stem from repetitive motion. Workers who frequently engage in repetitive motion therefore can suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition is frequently associated with workers whose jobs require frequent use of a computer keyboard, for example, such as information technology professionals and office workers.

But repetitive motion is required in many different occupations. Assembly line workers and construction workers can also develop carpal tunnel syndrome, as can anyone whose work involves repetitive motions with the hand and arm—like casino workers who deal cards.

If you don’t treat carpal tunnel properly, it can progress over time. Treatment can include physical therapy, periods of rest, and working with ergonomic equipment or moving to less repetitive duties. Learn what your workers’ compensation legal options are around your carpal tunnel complications from our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers.

Workers’ Compensation and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

If you or a loved one has developed carpal tunnel, it’s important to understand that it is one of the occupational diseases covered under workers’ compensation laws.

Unfortunately, however, workers’ compensation claims are sometimes denied by insurance carriers. There is some evidence that carpal tunnel syndrome claims are denied more frequently than other claims. Why? There are several reasons, but the principal one is that an insurance company can claim that you may have developed carpal tunnel from other activities not related to work.

Workers Comp Claim DeniedThey may claim that, while work activities make you feel carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, it isn’t proof that you developed the condition on the job. If someone has an accident on the job, such as a construction worker falling from scaffolding, the insurance carrier cannot claim that the accident happened elsewhere. But with conditions that develop over time, it’s easier for them to make this claim.

The sad fact is that insurance companies deny worker’s compensation claims for many reasons. The rules for filing are strict, and failing to follow them precisely can also constitute cause for denial. Even improperly filling out paperwork, such as a C-4 form, can cause workers’ compensation to deny your claim.

A lawyer, however, can appeal any denial you receive. If you have received a denial for a workers’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel, consult a worker’s compensation attorney promptly.  A legal representative can help you file an appeal to fight for a successful claim payout. Do not assume that a denial is the end of the story! Workers’ comp denies too many claims for reasons that a lawyer can fix.

If you suffer from carpal tunnel and have not yet filed for workers’ comp, it is equally important to consult an attorney who can help with the initial filing so that your claim proceeds smoothly. To learn more of the benefits of hiring a lawyer for your workers comp claim review our blog, “What Does a Workers Compensation Attorney Do?

Understanding Workers’ Comp

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program paid for by employers. All employers in Nevada with more than one worker are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ compensation covers both workers injured on the job and workers who develop occupation-related diseases. It avoids blame or accusations of negligence on either side. It recognizes that accidents and illnesses are sometimes part of work-life. Your employer cannot accuse you of causing the disease or injury yourself, and you cannot accuse your employer of causing the disease or injury.

Workers’ compensation does not cover injuries or illnesses that occur off the job, however, even if they occur during a working day (while at lunch or while driving to work, for example).

Benefits From Workers’ Comp

Workers’ compensation pays the following benefits:

  • All medical bills related to the illness or injury;
  • Temporary disability benefits for those who can’t work while they recover; and
  • Permanent disability benefits for those who can’t work in the future, if the illness or injury caused the disability.

Temporary disability benefits total roughly two-thirds of your average monthly wage, up to a maximum set by the state.

Ida M. Ybarra, Esq.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney, Ida M. Ybarra, Esq.

Workers can continue with temporary disability benefits until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). A physician determines this.

Temporary partial disability benefits exist for workers who can go back on a part-time or modified work schedule. The amount equals the two-thirds available under temporary total disability with the wages earned on a part-time or modified schedule. Injured workers can receive temporary partial disability for up to two years.

If you reach MMI and still can’t work in your former capacity, you become eligible for permanent disability. If you are totally and permanently disabled, the permanent disability benefits equal two-thirds of your average monthly wages as long as the total disability continues.

Note that the workers’ compensation system may consider your overall ability to perform work. For occupational injuries, that may mean they won’t just consider your former occupation, but all occupations open to you.

If you are determined to be partially permanently disabled, your physician estimates your percentage of impairment. Your benefits are a percentage of your average monthly wages multiplied by your percentage of disability.

Filing for Workers’ Comp

Missing a step or improperly filing a claim can result in a denial, although you can appeal. A workers’ comp lawyer, however, can ensure your claim adheres to proper procedure and filing requirements, expedite your claim, and reduce the chances of a denial.

If you notice carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms stemming from work, you need to notify your employer promptly, in writing. You should notify them within seven days of when you first notice symptoms. If you had symptoms and did not realize they were from carpal tunnel or didn’t immediately make the association between work and your symptoms, consult an attorney.

You should use a specific form, Form C-1, to report your carpal tunnel.

Per Nevada State Law, while workers injured severely on the job can choose emergency medical care, those who suffer from occupational diseases cannot (They sometimes can in other states.) The reason: your occupational disease is not life-threatening, and you thus have time to choose a doctor from an approved list. The general list is the Panel of Treating Physicians and Chiropractors. If your employer contracts with a specific group for medical care, such as a preferred provider organization (PPO), you likely need to choose from that group. When you see the physician, let them know that your symptoms are work-related.

The physician also needs to fill out the proper form, titled “Employee’s Claim for Compensation/Report of Initial Treatment” (Form C-4). The physician should send it to your employer within three days of seeing you. The insurance carrier then reviews the Form C-4. They have 30 days after receiving it to accept your claim or deny it.

Follow up with your doctor to make sure that they received the Form C-4. Missing the deadline is grounds for denial, even though sending the form isn’t in your hands.  If you need more information, consult a workers’ compensation attorney immediately as time is of the essence.

You can also review some of our other workers compensation legal resources to have a good idea of what to expect when you first talk to your attorney.

Benson and Bingham