The steps for recovering a carpal tunnel workers’ comp settlement include seeking medical help, notifying your employer of your injury, and hiring the right workers’ compensation lawyer for your case. Jobs that involve repetitive wrist and hand movements increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Workers at risk of this condition in Chicago, Illinois, include office workers, chefs/bakers, cashiers, and assembly line workers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome triggers pain, weakness, tingling, and numbness in the wrist and hand. It develops when a lot of pressure is inflicted on the median nerve, which runs from the forearm to the hand through a carpal tunnel (a passageway in the wrist). As symptoms worsen, grasping small objects or forming a fist can be difficult.
This condition is characterized by the narrowing of the gap in the wrist. This narrowing exerts pressure on tendons, ligaments, and median nerve inside the wrist. The outcome is pain, weakness, or numbness in the wrist and hand. Repetitive hand motions, health problems, and the wrist’s anatomy can increase the risk of this condition.
You might be at risk for this injury if your occupation requires recurrent use of fingers. You may also develop this injury due to excessive wrist movements and hammering. Other risk factors include old age, pregnancy, hand/wrist deformity, alcoholism, and tumors in the wrist.
Symptoms of this medical condition include numbness, pain, or tingling sensation in the fingers at night. These symptoms occur at night, as some people tend to curl their wrists while sleeping. Symptoms during the day include diminished sensation in the fingertips and difficulty performing small tasks with the affected hand.
Your doctor may carry out the Tinel sign test to help tell if you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The doctor will fully flex the wrist or tap the palm side of the wrist when performing this test. The doctor might also perform MRI exams, ultrasounds, and X-rays to examine your tissues and bones.
Your physician may ask you to undergo a nerve conduction study if your wrist or hand feels tingly or numb. The nerve conduction study will help tell if you suffered nerve damage. It measures the speed of electrical impulses in a nerve.
Burning or tingling pain in the forearms and hands can impact your focus at work. The numbness resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome can also make it difficult for you to sleep at night. Sleep deprivation will reduce your performance and productivity at work.
This condition can weaken your ability to grip objects firmly with your fingers. You may also experience loss of dexterity and strength. The loss of grip strength and range of motion can interfere with your physical ability to handle basic day-to-day job tasks.
Carpal tunnel syndrome may reduce response times in your hands and arms, as the condition often causes nerve damage. The inability to move your hand quickly will expose you to higher risk of injuries in emergencies where your reflexes could save you from a chemical burn or serious laceration.
People injured at work often wonder, “what qualifies for workers’ comp in Illinois?” Injuries caused, in part or in whole, by work-related accidents or exposure may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits. The injuries may stem from workplace accidents or incidents, repetitive tasks, aggravation of pre-existing conditions, or physical problems caused by an occupation.
The laws on workers’ occupational diseases and compensation cover nearly every worker in Chicago, Illinois. Covered workers include government employees (except Chicago firefighters and police), charity/religious workers, private company employees, and domestic workers. Others include landscape and farm/agricultural workers.
Workers’ compensation does not cover independent contractors and federal government employees. The same applies to longshore, harbor, shipyard, and railroad workers.
Eligibility for workers’ comp insurance starts on your first day at work. It is unlawful for employers to ask employees to waive their rights to workers’ compensation. Illinois law also requires employers to carry this insurance or be self-insured.
You can pursue workers’ comp benefits from the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund (IWBF) if your employer is uninsured and has failed to pay. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the hurdles of recovering compensation from IWBF.
Workers’ comp insurance can cover traumatic injuries from accidents and occupational diseases. It can also cover stress injuries, cumulative trauma, and repetitive motion injuries. The same applies to mental health conditions caused by occupation-related trauma or stress, like depression or PTSD.
Visit a medical facility for a diagnosis and treatment soon after sustaining an injury or developing symptoms related to work injury. Do this to prevent the condition from worsening. As soon as possible, report your injury to your employer.
The next step is to notify your employer about the injury or illness. You should also get a notice of work restrictions after getting treated. Inform your employer about these restrictions and ask for lighter duties or to be exempted from work until you recover.
You can hire a workers’ compensation attorney to help you file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The attorney will monitor your claim closely and represent you at hearings. You can count on your attorney to protect your rights and advocate for your best interests as you recover from your illness or injury.
Depending on the injury or illness, you may need ongoing treatment. The law requires your employer’s insurance to pay for all causally-connected, necessary, or reasonable work-related conditions.
You may have to undergo an independent medication exam. This exam gives a second opinion on your illness or injury. Your employer will order this exam, conducted by a non-treating doctor, to assess your work restrictions and treatment.
A repetitive stress injury lawyer with a record of resolving workers’ compensation cases involving carpal tunnel syndrome can help you prepare for an independent medical exam. The lawyer can discuss what happens during the exam and guide you on how to conduct yourself and answer questions.
You must inform your employer about the work-related illness or injury within 45 days. You can do so in writing or orally. However, it is advisable to file a written report and retain a copy of the report. That way, you will have evidence of reporting the injury if your employer denies receiving your report. Be sure to briefly describe the illness or injury. You should also share your name, telephone number, Social Security number, and physical address.
You can pursue a carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim if you develop carpal tunnel syndrome from your workplace. To do so, you must prove that you developed the condition because of your work duties.
You can prove carpal tunnel syndrome by getting a formal diagnosis from a certified doctor. The diagnosis will serve as medical evidence in your workers’ compensation claim.
While diagnosing carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor will ask when you began experiencing the symptoms. The doctor will also examine your motor functions, fingers, nerves, and risk to confirm whether your condition aligns with the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. The medical professional will check for other symptoms and perform medical tests to rule out other causes.
An expert witness, such as an ergonomic consultant, can also help prove that your carpal tunnel syndrome is occupation-related. The ergonomic consultant will review your duties and compare the injuries to your occupation’s requirements. The consultant will then prepare a testimony to support your claim.
Your testimony can also help prove that your condition is work-related. As such, be open to sharing how the symptoms evolved. You should also give insights into your working conditions.
While you may be eligible for workers’ compensation, you must prove your claim to your employer and the workers’ comp insurer. Consider hiring a workers’ comp lawyer to assist you in building a strong claim. The lawyer will advise you on the best steps to take if you failed to report a work injury. The lawyer will also communicate with the employer and insurer, gather relevant evidence, negotiate a fair settlement, and represent you at hearings.
If you are yet to seek treatment, your lawyer can arrange or recommend treatment with certified physicians. He or she can also gather medical opinions from the physician or arrange for an independent medical exam. And if you are not happy with the outcome of the workers’ comp hearing, your lawyer can appeal the decision on your behalf.
With your legal counsel’s help, you can explore other benefits to add to the workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include wage reimbursement, vocational rehabilitation assistance, and Social Security disability, depending on your eligibility.