Workers’ compensation laws exist to protect workers when they sustain an injury during the course of performing their job duties. Some people erroneously assume that such benefits only apply to highly physical jobs such as construction or manual labor. In truth, workers can receive benefits for all manner of injury, including those that come from working in an office setting. Office workers may incur ergonomic injury from sitting for long periods or even due to the nature of their computer work. One of the most common injuries in office workers is carpal tunnel syndrome, which gives rise to hundreds of workers’ compensations claims each year.
What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?
Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a major nerve of the arm and hand entraps or squeezes as it moves through the wrist. The symptoms are tingling, numbness, or pain of the fingers, wrist, or upper forearm.
Carpal tunnel syndrome most often occurs through repetitive motion. Physicians believe that one of the most common causes of carpal tunnel syndrome is typing for long periods of time. If the pressure on the affected nerve continues, it can lead to permanent damage. Surgery is often the only long-term solution for those who have trouble controlling the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Filing a Claim for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
California law requires that most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. The intent of a workers’ compensation policy is to provide workers with benefits, such as medical expenses and a portion of pay, in the event that an occupational injury interferes with his or her ability work.
As a repetitive stress injury, one of the most common claims in office workers is carpal tunnel syndrome. However, workers may run into problems when trying to file a workplace injury claim due to carpal tunnel.
Burden of Proof
For example, a commonly debated issue with regard to carpal tunnel is if it was actually work-related, or arose from some other cause. The employee has the burden of proof in establishing that a carpal tunnel injury is the direct result of work duties.
If, for example, an employee enjoys golf or tennis as a hobby, then an insurer may try to argue that the sport was the root cause of the injury, not the nature of an employee’s work. Alternatively, if an employee has a condition that exacerbates inflammation, such as arthritis, the insurer may argue that a pre-existing condition caused the injury.
Requirements for Benefits
In order to collect benefits for a carpal tunnel injury, a worker will need a physician’s note stating that the condition exists and directly arose from the employee’s work duties. Additionally, a worker has to meet certain requirements to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits in California.
- Period of employment of at least 6 months
- Have a physical injury or condition that arose from work duties
- The syndrome did not occur from some non-work-related factor
The workers’ compensation system is no-fault, which means that an injured worker will not have to prove that an injury occurred through negligence. Instead, he or she must show that it directly related to the execution of work duties.
Insurance companies often try to use tactics that relieve them of the responsibility of paying out a claim. Having a skilled Long Beach workers’ compensation lawyer throughout the process encourages them to take the claim more seriously and increases the chances of receiving benefits from a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis.
If you have a carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis and believe that the nature of your work is directly responsible, then you may qualify for a workers’ compensation benefits claim. An employment attorney can help you with the filing process and represent your rights throughout.