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Most employees who think about workers’ compensation imagine traumatic accident-related injuries while on the job, such as a broken bone in a fall accident. While harmful accidents are common in California workplaces, they are not the only type of workers’ compensation claims. You could also be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for injuries acquired from repetitive movements over many months or years. These include carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive motion injury of the tendons and nerves that affect the wrist. It is common in workers who use their hands, wrists or fingers to conduct repetitive motions. Examples include workers who have to sit at desks and type for long periods, as well as workers on assembly lines or in manufacturing facilities that use the same hand and wrist motions all day. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when a repetitive motion compresses the median nerve over time.
The median nerve is a major nerve in the hand that contributes to feeling and movement in the fingers. If the area of the wrist the nerves travel through, the carpal tunnel, swells or compresses, it can affect the median nerve as well. Carpal tunnel can have debilitating effects on movement and feeling in the hands. Its symptoms can include tingling, pain, numbness, weakness, lack of grip and swelling in the fingers.
The symptoms of carpal tunnel can be permanent until the patient receives treatments, such as wrist splints, vitamins, physical therapy, steroid shots or surgery. A serious case of carpal tunnel syndrome could take an employee out of work. Nerve and tendon damage could make it impossible for the worker to complete the main tasks of his or her job. A workers’ comp claim could repay the injured worker for lost past and future wages as well as other damages.
Workers’ compensation is available to any employee in California who suffers an injury at work. It is a type of insurance benefit a worker can receive without having to prove anyone else’s fault for the accident, or negligence. The no-fault workers’ comp system is in place to protect workers who get injured on the job. It applies to all types of occupational injuries and illnesses, including carpal tunnel acquired while at work or performing job-related tasks.
These are examples of common work-related tasks that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome if done repeatedly over time. Before you can recover compensation through the workers’ comp program, however, you may have to prove you acquired your injury at work. You must have employment documents, eyewitness statements or letters from a doctor that help you show your carpal tunnel syndrome came from your job and not from something you do at home, such as a hobby.
If your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer does not question the validity of your claim, you may receive a benefits check to cover your injury-related medical bills and up to two-thirds of any lost wages without further negotiation. If, however, the insurance company responds by requesting additional proof that your carpal tunnel happened because of work, or denies your claim upfront, you may need to hire a Riverside workers’ comp attorney to help you gather evidence.
Document your injury as much as possible by keeping your medical records, x-rays, diagnosis documents and treatment plans. Ask for a letter from your doctor stating what he or she believed caused the injury. Then, work with an attorney to help establish your claim through evidence such as a description of your job duties. A lawyer can substantiate your workers’ compensation claim in Riverside to help you obtain fair benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome.