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carpal tunnel and workers comp

Is carpal tunnel syndrome covered under Pennsylvania workers’ comp?

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.  More recently, the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome has been a point of contention.  However, it has long been recognized as an injury in Pennsylvania case law for purposes of receiving workers’ compensation benefits. 

While it can result from a single, traumatic event, most litigation involving carpal tunnel syndrome involves day-to-day work activities that caused the condition gradually over time.  These are often referred to as “repetitive stress injuries” or “cumulative trauma injuries.”  Because symptoms usually develop at a slower pace, injured workers ignore them or seek to work through them until it is too late.  Additionally, workers sometimes assume the condition is not covered under workers’ compensation since it did not result from a single, one-time traumatic event.  However, carpal tunnel syndrome is a compensable injury under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive stress injuries, can prevent you from working, cause you to seek medical attention, and even result in surgery.  This is where workers’ compensation can be important. 

Under Pennsylvania law, if you have a carpal tunnel condition that is related to your work activities you may be eligible for wage loss benefits (commonly referred to as total disability benefits or partial disability benefits) and full reimbursement of your medical expenses (without copays).  These benefits could make a difference in your monthly income.  For many of our clients, it means the difference between paying bills and not paying bills.  As a result, it is critical that you report any carpal tunnel symptoms to your employer as soon as they become apparent in order to protect your rights under Pennsylvania law. 

It may also be necessary to connect your condition to your work activities with medical evidence.  This can be a tricky proposition given common attitudes about repetitive injuries.  As result, it is often necessary to secure the testimony of your doctor to support your claim.  (This costs money! To learn more about how we handle costs for our client, follow this link).  Assuming the judge believes the testimony of your doctor, benefits could be available to you. 

Do you have more questions?  Contact us for your free consultation.       

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