Carpal Tunnel Was “Consistent” With Injured Worker’s Job Duties, Proved Texas Workers Compensation Lawyer
In this case, a Texas Workers Compensation Lawyer set out to prove an injured worker’s injury included carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) in her right hand. The insurance company disagreed, protesting that the injured worker was somehow trying to “change her theory of recovery” to include supposedly new symptoms. The Texas Workers compensation lawyer argued (successfully) that the later symptoms were linked to the initial injury.
The Texas Workers compensation lawyer first convinced a hearing officer that the injured worker’s right-hand CTS was part of her original, compensable (meaning covered by workers comp benefits) injury. Importantly, the Texas Workers compensation lawyer noted, the insurer didn’t even dispute that the injured worker had suffered a compensable injury to her hand. Medical records conclusively proved the injured worker was diagnosed at the time of a fall at work as having a right-hand strain…a fact the carrier had accepted, emphasized the Texas Workers compensation lawyer.
The injured worker was getting treatment from a chiropractor for several months, according to records from the Texas Workers compensation lawyer, but her symptoms didn’t improve. Frustrated at having made little progress, the injured worker sought treatment from a medical doctor who noted loss of function in the ulnar and median nerves. The Texas Workers compensation lawyer showed this doctor then also requested an EMG. The EMG was proof, emphasized the Texas Workers compensation lawyer, the injured worker did indeed have CTS and cubital tunnel syndrome (or CuTS) of the right upper “extremity.” The insurer’s required medical examination (RME) was performed, and the RME doctor also found that the injured worker had CuTS, median tunnel syndrome, and pronator syndrome.
The Texas Workers compensation lawyer observed the RME doctor tried to minimize these findings, saying “Frequently, these are overuse syndromes and the [worker] was involved in repetitive-type tasks prior to the event of tugging on the large pans. Typically, these syndromes are not brought on by a single-tug event. In her situation, she was working for this company during the time when the repeated activities would occur and I will leave it to the hearing officer to decide which event is the one that gets paid for.” In other words, the Texas Workers compensation lawyer noted, the RME wouldn’t blame the fall for the CuTS. But he also didn’t rule it out.
The Texas Workers compensation lawyer responded that whether an injury extends to a particular part of the body (here, the right hand) is a factual matter for the hearing officer to decide. As Texas rules also made clear, noted the Texas Workers compensation lawyer, a timeline alone doesn’t establish a causal connection between an accident and a later-diagnosed injury. In this case, the Texas compensation lawyer emphasized that neither did the months between the fall and the showing of symptoms rule out a connection. In the same way, noted the Texas Workers compensation lawyer, not telling a health care provider until later was also consistent with not disproving the fall or her work caused the cuts.
Generally, lay testimony (in this case, the injured worker’s own testimony, noted the Texas Workers compensation lawyer) showing a sequence of events, which gave a strong, logically traceable connection between the event and the condition. The Texas Workers compensation lawyer also proved that the continuing treatment of the injured worker’s hand was consistent with the condition diagnosed by an MD. This condition was also potentially explained in terms of the full range of what the injured worker did on her job. “This sort of injury,” observed the Texas Workers compensation lawyer, often occurred “over time, as opposed to the single incident” of her first being aware of a hand problem. Through use of job evaluations, the Texas Workers compensation lawyer went on to show a potential causal link existed between her on-the-job activities and the repeat stress injury.
The Texas Workers compensation lawyer fully convinced the Appeals Panel that there was “definite and persuasive” evidence concerning the repetitive nature of the injured worker’s work. There was also a possibility the fall made the condition worse. The appeals panel upheld the award.
Workers experiencing repeat stress injuries frequently keep on working. A Texas Workers compensation lawyer is aware of this, and can help. This help begins when a worker seeks medical and legal advice. Experts advise that before the stress injury becomes too severe, to talk with an experienced Texas Workers compensation lawyer.