Carpal tunnel syndrome results from inflammation of the nerve passing through a section of the wrist, and it can be caused by repetitive motions common in various occupations. In particular, it is a common condition among office workers, drivers, craftspeople, and anyone who works with heavy tools.
Since carpal tunnel syndrome often results from work-related activities, it can be compensated as a work injury.
Illinois Work Injury Rules
In order for carpal tunnel syndrome—or any injury, for that matter—to be considered a work injury, it has to have resulted from the performance of one’s work duties. If you can prove a measurable increase in wrist pain after taking on a specific job or work-related task, you will likely be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and receive benefits.
On the other hand, if it doesn’t result from your work duties, then it is not classified as a work injury. Often, employers will try to prove that repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel aren’t related to work and thus avoid paying compensation.
Challenges of Carpal Tunnel and Repetitive Strain Injuries
While work-related carpal tunnel is compensable under Illinois workers’ compensation law, it does pose some challenges for workers. In particular, it’s sometimes difficult to trace repetitive strain injuries to your employment since you don’t have the kind of traumatic accidents that are typically associated with severe workers’ compensation claims. It can take a long time before you notice symptoms, by which point its connection to work might not be immediately obvious.
This issue is further complicated by the fact that it’s easy to brush off minor pain, which means people might not immediately file a claim upon noticing carpal tunnel symptoms. Given that the state of Illinois requires work injuries to be reported within 45 days of their occurrence (or your noticing their occurrence), that might be used to invalidate your claim.
Securing Compensation for Work-Related Carpal Tunnel
In order to maximize your chances of obtaining compensation, try the following.
Visit a doctor
As soon as you notice symptoms, visit your doctor. Make sure you provide thorough information to them. For instance, if you engage in other activities that might contribute toward your carpal tunnel, tell them about it. They’ll be able to make a more complete assessment of your carpal tunnel and tell you more definitively if it’s (at least partly) work-related.
Keep a log
Keeping a journal or log can also help. If you know when you started working and noticing symptoms, you can better demonstrate how your work duties contributed toward your condition.
Contact a workers’ compensation attorney
Finally, it’s vital to involve an attorney, especially in cases where you face opposition from your employer and their insurance provider. They may try to minimize the seriousness of your carpal tunnel or otherwise claim it’s unrelated to work. With a skilled attorney on your side, you’ll receive guidance and representation that can counteract those claims.
If you have chronic wrist pain from your employment duties, contact an attorney at Hart David Carson LLP as soon as possible to maximize your odds of receiving compensation.