Imagine working for years in Florida as an actuary or software engineer. For a long time, you may have felt fine doing your job.
One day, however, you notice a feeling of numbness and even tingling pain along the sides of your wrists. The numbness and pain radiate down to the palms of your hand. Needless to say, this causes difficulties as you grab objects or type on a keyboard.
Reading this, you may be involved in a different profession. However, if you experience any of the symptoms just described, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects one out of three people in the United States, according to Mayo Clinic. Causing difficulties in work and one’s personal life, carpal tunnel syndrome is considered an injury.
If you are planning on seeking work compensation, the more pressing question is this: Is carpal tunnel syndrome a work-related injury, and can you seek workers’ compensation for it?
Read on to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS): An Overview
Web MD described carpal tunnel syndrome to be a condition that affects the median nerve. The median nerve is a motor nerve responsible for the movements of the wrist and palms. It runs the entire length of the arm and terminates at the hands, controlling the movement of the surrounding structures.
Over time, the median nerve can be compressed due to strain from repetitive movements or positions. According to Mayo Clinic, repetitive movements like typing, gripping, and other movements of the wrist contribute to CTS.
CTS has the following signs and symptoms:
- Numbness in the wrist and hand
- Tingling in the palms or fingers
- A “shock-like” sensation in your palms or wrists after suddenly moving your fingers
More chronic symptoms of CTS include weakened grip strength and numbness in areas above the wrist.
Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome a Work-Related Injury in Florida?
To better answer whether CTS can be a cause for a claim, we need to be clear on its status as a condition. In Florida, work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. Carpal tunnel syndrome is more of an occupational hazard or disease.
States have subtle differences in how they define work-related injuries. Florida shares most of the descriptions of work-related injuries in other states. In Florida, a work-related injury is the result of any damage or impairment sustained during work.
Being “at work” is a fundamental condition for a work-related injury. For this reason, a work-injury needs to meet the following criteria that meet the at-work condition:
- The injury or a set of injuries were the results of an incident.
- The incident that led to the injury happened in the workplace.
- The injury led to physical or cognitive impairment.
- The injuries were sustained while the employee was performing a work-related task.
- The injuries occurred within the employee’s regular working hours.
What is tricky about CTS is that no single incident normally causes it. Rather, it is a condition that develops over the course of years. By Florida’s definition it is — strictly speaking — not a work-related injury.
Nonetheless, you will still be able to seek workers’ compensation since CTS is classified as an occupational hazard. An occupational hazard is a condition that can develop as a result of one’s regular work obligations.
In Florida, employees may seek workers’ compensation for suffering at the hands of occupational hazards.
The Challenges of Seeking Workers’ Compensation for CTS in Florida
One of the first things you will have to do when making a workers’ compensation claim is prove a causative relation. In other words, you need to show that your occupation contributed to your carpal tunnel syndrome. Right away, this presents challenges not only for you but also for your physician.
Another obstacle is that you — or your insurance provider — need to shoulder your medical expenses initially. Unlike no-fault states, Florida stipulates that the employer’s insurance provider gives compensation only after a successful claim. Before an injury is deemed compensable, the injured party (you) pays for medical expenses and other expenses incurred first.
This brings us to the most commonly observed pain point for claimants — the burden of proof. To win compensation, it is the injured party that has to prove the employer’s liability in Florida. This is what discourages most people from filing workers’ compensation after developing CTS.
Did You Develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Because of Your Job? Call Sternberg/Forsythe for Compensation
Filing for workers’ compensation in Florida can be an uphill battle. If you have developed CTS as a result of your job, winning compensation can help offset expenses you have incurred.
A successful claim depends on a well-developed workers’ compensation case, even for occupational injuries like CTS.
Call us now and receive quick, affordable, and reliable legal counsel and representation for your work injury claims.