You’ve worked in an office for years, typing away at your computer for hours at a time. You start to feel aches in your wrists, that turn into numbness and tingling. Pretty soon, you feel pain in your wrists and go to the doctor. You learn you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Work is making the pain worse. But because the symptoms were gradual, you can’t pinpoint the exact day it started. You may be surprised to learn that even if the condition started before you began work, carpal tunnel that is aggravated by working conditions is covered under state workers’ comp law.
Carpal tunnel is a repetitive motion type injury that impacts the wrist. Carpal tunnel syndrome happens when the median nerve, which goes through the carpal tunnel passageway in your wrist, is pinched or compressed from repetitive motion. Workers may start to accept that this pain is part of the job, but they should know that workers’ compensation is available to them.
Wrist injuries are covered under Louisiana Workers’ Comp law
Wrist injuries can be either repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) or repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis or bursitis. According to a 2013 survey by FindLaw.com, 20 percent of people who were injured on the job suffered repetitive motion type injuries. Many of these injuries are aggravated by continued work, making them serious medical issues. If the condition is either caused by work, or aggravated by work, it is covered under workers’ comp law.
Workers’ comp covers injuries from accidents or occupational diseases. Carpal tunnel syndrome falls under the occupational diseases category. As defined by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, a disease or illness is covered when it occurs due to work conditions characteristic of that particular trade, occupation, process or employment in which the employee is exposed to that disease. When you can connect your wrist injury, even though it is a fairly common condition, to your work — showing that your work triggers, causes or aggravates it, it is likely you can be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance.
What can workers’ comp pay for?
While the situation varies between each individual, workers’ comp for carpal tunnel syndrome typically pays for the following:
• Replacement income to cover a portion of your lost wages while you are out of work
• Medical care from your wrist injury, including doctor’s visits, prescriptions and physical therapy
• The cost of re-training you to do a different job, if you cannot return to the same position because of your injury
• Wrist surgery if your condition is severe enough to require surgery, but workers’ comp may only cover a portion of the cost
If you file for workers’ compensation and collect benefits, you cannot sue your employer because of the injury. Workers’ compensation also does not cover damages for pain and suffering. If you are experiencing carpal tunnel due to your job, or feel your condition is aggravated by work, a workers’ comp attorney can help you get the benefits you deserve. While it is not required to hire an attorney for workers’ comp claims, your chances of getting the maximum benefits you deserve are much better with an attorney who is an expert in handling these claims. It is not always easy to obtain benefits, and even if you have been denied, an attorney can help you resolve the claim.