Can you get workers’ compensation for carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)?
Yes, you can. Such cases are known as repetitive trauma work injuries. You can get workers’ comp if you can:
- Properly document your job duties.
- Have a qualified doctor provide a persuasive medical opinion stating that what you did on the job caused or aggravated your carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
The best way to explain the Illinois law for repetitive trauma carpal tunnel injury cases is to look at the details of a recent example case.
In Brandi Brooks v. Illinois-American Water, Ms. Brooks worked as a customer service representative, and had been in the profession for about 14 years. Her duties in an 8 hour work day included:
- Talking on the phone with a headset
- Constant typing and operating the computer mouse (she is left-handed, but used the mouse with her right hand)
- She used a pen, but “not a whole lot.”
- Ms. Brooks’ last chosen treating doctor is a plastic and reconstructive hand surgeon who is board certified.
- He diagnosed mild left carpal tunnel syndrome. He thought the typing was probably the work activity which had most contributed to CTS. He recommended left wrist surgery.
- The insurance company’s IME or Independent Medical Exam doctor is board certified in orthopedic surgery, and specializes in hand and arm surgery.
- He diagnosed mild bilateral CUTS (cubital tunnel syndrome), right worse than left, and possible mild CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome). He claimed to not find any evidence that Ms. Brooks’ work activities put her at increased risk for CTS or CUTS .
- While the treating doctor had seen her more than the IME doctor, the treating doctor had actually only seen her twice.
- She used her mouse with her right hand, while the CTS argued for by the treating doctor was on her left hand.
- There was no “forceful gripping / grasping and or significant vibratory impact” involved in this claim, which they claimed were now considered to be “the greatest risk factors associated with occupational CTS.”