The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) provides benefits for workers who have suffered harm in the course and scope of employment. Industrial injuries, which include physical harm as well as diseases or illnesses, range in severity, and they can cause a temporary disability as well as permanent harm. As a type of work-related medical condition, carpal tunnel syndrome can affect an employee’s ability to successfully perform work-related tasks. Termed a “repetitive stress injury,” carpal tunnel is caused by compressed nerves that rest within the carpal tunnel of the wrist.
According to the Workers’ Compensation Act, Section 1 (7A),“personal injury” includes diseases as well as compensable injuries that combine with a pre-existing condition, even when that condition resulted from a non-compensable injury or disease. If the cause of the disability results from a compensable injury or disease, the employee would be entitled to compensation. Since it is a type of injury that can become progressively worse over time, workers within occupations that require extensive typing or writing may find that carpal tunnel has exacerbated earlier, unrelated conditions. Or they may simply have developed carpal tunnel due to hours spent at their desk daily.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect workers who engage in repetitive tasks, such as those employed in the meatpacking, manufacturing, or sewing industries. Symptoms often include pain in the hand or wrist, weakness, and numbness. The carpal tunnel itself is a narrow, rigid passageway of bones and ligaments at the base of the hand. The median nerve rests within this tunnel, and when it is squeezed or pressed at the wrist, it leads to pain or other symptoms. This nerve is important, since it provides feeling to the thumb and many fingers (not the little finger). The median nerve also controls small muscles at the base of the thumb.
When filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, injured employees should first ensure they have met the notice requirement of the WCA. While employers may be more likely to have knowledge of a single accident that has led to injuries, repetitive stress injuries that have been caused over time, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, may not be as apparent. Workers are advised to immediately report their carpal tunnel syndrome diagnosis after receiving a confirmation from their treating physician.
To meet the legal requirements of showing the carpal tunnel syndrome was caused at work, employees must demonstrate that they suffered harm while on the job, as a result of their work. Repetitive cutting, typing, lifting, and other physical activity can exacerbate conditions and lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It is important to present strong medical evidence that the carpal tunnel was caused by work and often that the condition has improved since ceasing work-related activities.
The no-fault system of workers’ compensation is appropriate for carpal tunnel syndrome injuries. Since the employer would not likely be sued for causing carpal tunnel, workers’ compensation protects employees for injuries that employers may not have caused. However, in some cases, an employer may argue that the condition was caused by an employee’s hobby, such as tennis or painting. A skilled lawyer can help present a strong case for compensation and overcome potential challenges.
At Pulgini & Norton, we help injured workers file claims for workers’ compensation benefits despite potential challenges posed by their employers or their employers’ workers’ compensation insurance companies. Throughout Massachusetts, our dedicated workers’ compensation lawyers have secured medical benefits, lost wages, and disability benefits for clients who have endured a work-related injury or condition. Contact us today by calling (781) 843-2200 to schedule a free and confidential consultation concerning your case.
More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Appeals Court Reviews Worker’s Compensation Claim for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 19, 2016
Massachusetts Board Holds that Employee Suffered Industrial Injury Because She Showed Causal Relationship Between Asthma Condition and Exposure to Irritants at Workplace, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, July 28, 2016