Can You Get Workers’ Compensation for Carpal Tunnel?
When you hear “workers’ compensation,” you might imagine a slip and fall, car accident, or act of violence – some type of one-time incident that causes injuries. Most employees do not think about repetitive motion or musculoskeletal injuries that can occur over time, such as carpal tunnel. Yet these are also work-related injuries that could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in Alabama. Here’s what you need to know if a doctor diagnosed you with carpal tunnel syndrome recently.
What Does the Law Say?
Most employers with five or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance for workers in Alabama. The State Employee Injury Compensation Trust Fund fulfills workers’ compensation claims, which provide financial benefits to injured employees without the requirement to prove fault. Almost any employee who suffers an injury or illness from job-related tasks is eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Alabama.
If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you can file for benefits after nearly any type of injury or illness, minor or major. Almost no restrictions exist in terms of type of injury, as long as the injury is occupational. Broken bones, lacerations, burns, eye injuries, traumatic brain injuries, muscle strains or sprains, spinal cord injuries, chemical-related injuries, and illnesses (such as mesothelioma) can all qualify for workers’ comp coverage in Alabama. The same is true for repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.
A repetitive motion injury doesn’t stem from a single workplace accident. Instead, it builds and develops over time from work-related tasks or motions. If an employee performs the same movements again and again, day after day, he or she can develop musculoskeletal injuries and/or nerve damage. Common causes of repetitive motion injuries are lifting boxes, working on an assembly line, typing at a desk, and scanning items at a cash register.
About Carpal Tunnel Workers’ Comp Claims
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a type of repetitive motion injury that affects the wrists, hands, and fingers. It happens when swelling or irritation squeezes the tendons in the wrist, compressing the carpal tunnel at the base of the hand and impacting the median nerve. Compression of the median nerve can cause symptoms such as tingling, pain, or numbness in the hand and fingers. Carpal tunnel can also affect the forearm and arms.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can make it difficult to grasp things, form a fist, type, or perform other manual tasks. If left untreated, chronic carpal tunnel syndrome can eventually wear away the muscles at the base of the thumb. Treatments include splinting the wrists and hands, avoiding hand-related tasks, taking anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and carpal tunnel release surgery.
If you developed carpal tunnel because of tasks you perform at work, such as repeatedly using vibrating hand-held tools or typing at a computer, you could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your medical treatment. This qualifies as a work-related injury, and therefore gives employees the right to seek benefits such as medical expenses, lost income, and temporary/permanent disability costs.
How to Apply for Workers’ Comp for Carpal Tunnel
To request benefits for carpal tunnel, notify your employer of your injury as soon as you receive a diagnosis. You must notify your employer within 90 days of your diagnosis, or else risk losing your right to benefits. You have two years from the date of discovering your injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. You will have to prove that you obtained your syndrome from work-related tasks to qualify for benefits. This may take help from a medical expert, medical records, or a lawyer.
A lawyer can help prove your carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim, using industry data and similar cases as evidence. A lawyer can also make sure you file your claim in time and according to all applicable rules. As soon as a physician in Alabama diagnoses you with carpal tunnel syndrome, contact an attorney about the possibility of filing a workers’ comp claim. The sooner you act, the sooner you can receive financial recovery.