Carpal Tunnel Workers’ Comp

According to the Mayo Clinic, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of your hand. When the median nerve is compressed, the symptoms can include numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand and arm.

The anatomy of your wrist, health problems and possibly repetitive hand motions can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Proper treatment usually relieves the tingling and numbness and restores wrist and hand function.

Carpal Tunnel Injury Symptoms

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually start gradually and include:

  • Tingling or numbness. You may notice tingling and numbness in your fingers or hand. Usually the thumb and index, middle or ring fingers are affected, but not your little finger. You might feel a sensation like an electric shock in these fingers. The sensation may travel from your wrist up your arm. These symptoms often occur while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper, or may wake you from sleep. Many people “shake out” their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. The numb feeling may become constant over time.
  • Weakness. You may experience weakness in your hand and drop objects. This may be due to the numbness in your hand or weakness of the thumb’s pinching muscles, which are also controlled by the median nerve.

Is Carpal Tunnel a Work-Related Injury?

Carpal tunnel is one of the most common repetitive stress injuries facing workers today, with the CDC reporting an average of about 900,000 new cases in the US annually. In some cases, carpal tunnel can be attributed to working conditions. An employee should file a worker’s compensation claim for carpal tunnel if they have medical records to support the condition was caused by their work duties. 

Workers have the best chance of obtaining compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome if their normal work duties place large amounts of stress on the wrist. This can come through either repetitive or awkward motions or through use of high-powered vibrating equipment. CTS is commonly associated with factory workers, data entry clerks or typists, and others who work with computers. However, it’s also highly prevalent among grocery store workers, butchers, grinders, and frozen food factory workers.

Carpal Tunnel Workers Comp Settlement 

The employer provides workers’ compensation benefits for carpal tunnel regardless of fault, in exchange for protection against civil action by the employee. This exchange has three components:

  • No-Fault: The employer is required to pay benefits no matter who caused the injury, as long as the injury arose out of or occurred in the course of employment. 
  • Exclusive Remedy: Unless the employer is uninsured, the worker cannot pursue other forms of recovery from the employer, even if the employer was grossly negligent. 
  • Assured and Fixed Benefit: The workers’ compensation system establishes defined benefits, which must be paid for by the employer. Additional recoveries are available to employees for an employer’s serious and willful misconduct and unlawful discrimination (Labor Code § 132a and § 4553).

Get Workers’ Comp for Carpal Tunnel

To initiate a workers’ compensation claim for a carpal tunnel injury, an injured worker can contact California Work Injury Law Center to facilitate and begin the process. 

An employee who sustains a work-related cumulative trauma causing carpal tunnel must inform the employer about the injury or illness within 30 days of the date of injury. 

The employer must furnish the employee with an Employee’s Claim for Workers’ Compensation Benefits (DWC 1) claim form within one working day of learning of the injury. The employee’s claim is initiated after the employer learns of the injury from any source. The employee must complete and return the form to the employer. A dated copy must be provided to the employee. California Work Injury Law Center will provide you with the aforementioned documents to properly notify your employer of your carpal tunnel injury. 

Employees have the right to predesignate a personal physician to provide treatment in the event of an occupational illness or injury. California Work Injury Law Center will designate a primary treating physician per Labor Code §4600.

When to Hire a Carpal Tunnel Injury Lawyer

It is imperative that an injured worker has legal representation in order to smoothly litigate their carpal tunnel injury. The sooner an injured worker obtains representation the more advantageous it will be for the injured worker. 

The employer has workers’ compensation insurance; the insurer acts on behalf of the employer to assume most of the liability for the insured employer making benefit payments, collecting medical records, and/or reimbursing for medical expenses. Insurers employ claims administrators to administer claims, make key decisions about acceptance or denial of liability of the claim, payment of benefits, and/ or authorizing important medical treatment.  

California Work Injury Law Center will advocate on your behalf communicating with the claim administrator to obtain pertinent information, benefits and/or medical treatment.

Carpal tunnel Injury FAQs

Is carpal tunnel a workers’ comp injury

Carpal tunnel syndrome can be work related is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which occurs in professions consisting of repetitive and continuous trauma. 

The median nerve runs from your forearm through a passageway in your wrist (carpal tunnel) to your hand. It provides sensation to the palm side of your thumb and fingers, except the little finger. It also provides nerve signals to move the muscles around the base of your thumb (motor function).

Anything that squeezes or irritates the median nerve in the carpal tunnel space may lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. A wrist fracture can narrow the carpal tunnel and irritate the nerve, as can the swelling and inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It may be that a combination of risk factors contributes to the development of the condition, such repetitive duties from continuous trauma at work. California Work Injury Law Center can provide you a free consultation to ascertain if your carpal tunnel is a workers’ compensation injury.

Can I file workers’ comp for carpal tunnel?

If your occupation requires repetitive motion or activities and you’ve experienced carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, then you may have grounds to file a workers’ compensation case. A workers’ compensation claim may arise if you develop carpal tunnel symptoms but have left that particular job. Repetitive motion injuries may take months or years to develop. The symptoms may not manifest until after you have left the job that caused the condition.

The workers’ compensation system in California recognizes carpal tunnel syndrome as a compensable medical injury. Depending on the nature of your injury, you may be entitled to obtain medical treatment, temporary disability (lost wages), permanent disability (compensation for any resulting level of disability) and future medical treatment. 

Does workers' comp cover carpal tunnel syndrome?

Common injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims include carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common among people whose work requires a lot of repetitive hand motions, such as typing on a keyboard. Luckily, workers’ compensation policies provide compensation for carpal tunnel surgery, wrist braces, and other necessary medical treatment. Specifically, on an accepted claim, the workers’ compensation policy usually provides enough compensation to cover the entire cost of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery, which typically ranges between $4,000 to $12,000. California Work Injury Law Center can provide further guidance as to whether your carpal tunnel diagnosis will be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.