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Making a Workers' Compensation Claim for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in Washington State

Posted by Christine Foster on January 28, 2015

How to file a workers’ compensation claim for carpal tunnel syndrome in Seattle

Repetitive stress injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome are becoming increasingly common, especially as more and more workers perform their jobs at a desk with a computer and mouse. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that affects the hands and fingers. It is caused by the compression of the median nerve, which controls sensation and movement in your hands. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include pins and needles, a dull ache in the hand and arm, and pain, tingling, and numbness in the hands and fingers. Symptoms tend to develop gradually and are typically worse at night.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is often caused by strenuous, repetitive work with the hands and wrists. The risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome isn't limited to people in a specific job or industry, but it is very common among people who do assembly line work, such as meat, poultry, or fish packing; cleaning; sewing; and manufacturing. Other repetitive tasks in the workplace that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome include using a cash register and typing. The following are risk factors in the development of carpal tunnel syndrome:

  • Being a woman of menopausal age
  • Lack of fitness
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes or family history of diabetes
  • Injuries to the wrist
  • Smoking

If you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome that was caused by work, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits in Washington State. One issue regarding carpal tunnel syndrome that is frequently debated is whether the condition is caused by a workplace injury or factors unrelated to work. An employee must be able to prove through his work and medical history that his carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by work activities.

Let's say an employee with carpal tunnel syndrome also works on the side as a software developer, or plays tennis as a hobby. It could be argued that the employee developed carpal tunnel syndrome due to these non-work related activities, both of which require repetitive hand movements. If an employee has diabetes, arthritis, or another unrelated condition, it could even be argued that the injury didn't happen while the employee worked for the employer.

Injury vs. Occupational Disease

There is also debate as to whether carpal tunnel syndrome is an occupational disease or an injury. If carpal tunnel syndrome is characterized as an accident, you must be able to prove that the cause of the injury was sudden. If carpal tunnel syndrome is compensable as an occupational disease, you have to show that you suffered a greater exposure to the disease in your workplace and that the injury arose out of and in the course of employment.

Receive the Maximum Workers' Compensation Benefits That You Deserve

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome that was caused by work, it is highly recommended that you hire a Seattle workers' compensation attorney. An attorney who understands the legal and medical aspects of workers' compensation claims will be able to aggressively represent your interests and ensure that you receive the maximum benefits you deserve. Call 206-682-3436 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a FREE consultation with our experienced lawyers.

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