Carpal Tunnel Workers’ Compensation Claims
By: Steven Babitsky, Esq.

Carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claims are not as prevalent as most Workers’ Compensation and occupational health professionals have been lead to believe.

The recent California Workers’ Compensation Institute study indicates that over an 11 year span carpal tunnel claims accounted for less than 1% of California injury claims.

The study concluded:

More than 60% of carpal tunnel claims come from the professional/clerical, manufacturing, and mercantile sectors, though since 2008, the highest growth rate of carpal tunnel claims has been among hospital workers, who accounted for nearly 14% of the claims since 2008, up from 6.3% in the prior five years. More than half of the carpal tunnel claims over the past decade have resulted in permanent disability (PD) – more than triple the rate for all job injury claims, and these PD cases account for nearly 89 cents out of every dollar paid on carpal tunnel claims. Since 2001, the average claim duration for carpal tunnel claims has been nearly 31 months from the claim filing date to claim closure – nearly triple the average of 10.8 months for all other work injury claims – and for carpal tunnel PD cases, the average duration has been nearly 4 years (1,406 days), or about 5 months longer than the average for PD cases involving other types of injuries. The Score Card notes a number of factors that may contribute to the longer claim durations in carpal tunnel cases including uncertainty and disputes over the cause and nature of the injury; notification and initial treatment delays; high levels of attorney involvement; the high incidence of lost time claims (especially PD claims), and treatment plans that often involve surgery followed by physical therapy and delayed return to work.

For the latest information and training on Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine issues the SEAK 33rd Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conference will be held on July16-18, 2013 on Cape Cod, MA.