As we've seen in previous posts, carpal tunnel syndrome does not only affect workers who type on computer keyboards. This particular injury impacts employees whose jobs include repetitive motion work such as production line factory work.
But when an employee suffers an injury like carpal tunnel syndrome, it can severely limit their movements and make it difficult to even go to work. Like any injured worker, benefits like workers' compensation can help with the medical expenses and lost wages that are incurred during the recovery period. But can an employer argue that the injury was not work-related?
Typically an employer can appeal a workers' compensation and argue that the worker did not properly document the injury. If a judge sides with the employer, the worker's benefits can be denied or taken away.
One woman suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. Her hands swelled for several years as a result of her job inspecting helmets. Because the pain was so great, she was unable to go to work and notified her employer immediately of the situation, per the employer's policy. When the pain continued, she went to see a specialist who told her that she had carpal tunnel syndrome.
Though she initially did not believe her injuries were work-related, the medical specialist thought otherwise. The woman continued to let her employer know, even though it appears that she did not get any response. Eventually she was terminated because her injury prevented her from doing any work.
She had been awarded workers' compensation after a judge decided the injury was work-related. But the ruling was overturned and she was subsequently denied the benefits on the grounds that her employer was not aware she had sustained work-related carpal tunnel.
Fortunately, her state's Supreme Court found in favor of the original decision, stating that because she had repeatedly informed her employer of the situation per their policy, she was entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
Being denied these types of benefits can cause a lot of financial challenges for an employee who did, in fact, suffer a work-related injury. Often it can be beneficial for an employee to speak with someone who understands workers' compensation and knows what options are available for the worker.
Source: Tire Business online, "Injured employee adequately notified employer, due workers comp: Pa. Court," Roberto Ceniceros, 25 July 2011