Carpal Tunnel in the Auto Industry

Chicago Lawyers for Workers’ Compensation Claims

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passage that runs through the wrist. It’s formed by carpal bones and overhung with a band of connective tissues. It doesn’t have much room to stretch or get bigger. One of the main nerves that runs through the carpal tunnel is the median nerve, which runs into the hand, and gives feeling in the thumb and some of the fingers. Unfortunately, some people develop carpal tunnel syndrome while working. If you’ve developed carpal tunnel in the auto industry, a dedicated Chicago workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate whether you have a viable claim for benefits.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Nerves and tendons travel through the carpal tunnel. When someone suffers carpal tunnel syndrome, a nerve is compressed or squeezed as it passes through the wrist. Early in the syndrome, it is possible to obtain relief with simple measures such as wearing a wrist splint or simply avoiding the tasks that trigger it. However, it can worsen over time, and may eventually result in nerve damage. Sometimes it is necessary to undergo surgery to remove pressure from the median nerve.

Carpal Tunnel in the Auto Industry

Carpal tunnel is a repetitive stress injury. Although it does occur with high frequency among office workers, it is also commonly seen in auto workers. Many aspects of automotive work are automated now, but sometimes workers still need to do repetitive tasks. Generally, there is less skepticism about acute traumatic injuries that were witnessed by coworkers or supervisors than there is about carpal tunnel syndrome. However, carpal tunnel syndrome is a serious condition that can require medical care and time off work.

It is possible to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome if you can show it is work-related. There are instances, however, where an insurer is more interested in profits than awarding a claimant benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome. In some cases, workers’ compensation insurers ask those claimants about whom they have doubts to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). In spite of the name, the exam is not conducted by an “independent” doctor.

Often the doctor chosen by a workers’ compensation insurer has a bias towards getting a worker back to work and takes a more conservative approach to treatment. Employers do rely on independent medical exams to push a worker to go back to work. If you are told to go back to work after an IME doctor has determined you are ready, and you don’t go back, an employer may stop paying you temporary total disability benefits for carpal tunnel syndrome.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to go to trial with the insurer under Section 19(b) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. A 19(b) petition is a petition for immediate hearing. The trial will occur within 60 days. Generally, it’s necessary to obtain your medical records and it may also be necessary to depose your doctor or an independent medical exam doctor. The arbitrator determines whether or not the worker should go back to the job. It is possible to appeal the decision that is reached by the arbitrator, and a knowledgeable work injury lawyer can help with this process.

Sometimes carpal tunnel necessitates going back to work with restrictions. If your doctor restricts or limits your work to avoid aggravating your carpal tunnel, you should abide by the doctor-imposed limitations. It is not permissible for your employer to retaliate against you for following the restrictions or limitations imposed by the doctor.

Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney in Chicago

If you are an auto worker who has suffered from carpal tunnel in the auto industry, a skillful workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to help you pursue benefits. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we handle claims of injured workers in Springfield, Rockford, Aurora, Champaign, and Quincy as well as Cook, Adams, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. We will also look closely at the situation to determine whether other relief, such as damages in a personal injury lawsuit or SSDI may be available. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online.