A recent case that our office handled dealt with the issue of timely filing of a claim for occupationally related carpal tunnel syndrome. The claimant worked in the facilities maintenance department as a mechanic. The claimant treated with a doctor who diagnosed Carpal Tunnel syndrome as a result of his work activities. As a result, he filed his claim in 2016. He acknowledged that he had previously seen a doctor who did EMG studies showing Carpal Tunnel syndrome but did not have treatment as a result of same at the time he had the EMG. The carrier argued that the claim was not timely since he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in 2012.
The claimant testified as did an employer witness who confirmed the claimant’s work activities. The claimant testified that he sought medical treatment in March 2016 due to worsening symptoms and at this time was advised that his condition was due to his work activities. Although he had a workup for his hands in the past, it was with a doctor who was treating his Parkinson’s disease and no discussions were had with regards to his work activities nor was any treatment rendered. After hearing the testimony the law judge established the case and set the date of disablement at 3/23/16, when he first saw the doctor who made the causal connection between his work and the condition. The carrier appealed and the majority of the Board Panel affirmed the decision. There was one dissent and the carrier filed for Full Board Review.
The Board Panel affirmed the decision of the Judge. The Board noted that there is some latitude in establishing a date of disablement for occupationally related conditions. The Board noted that although the claimant was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in 2012, the condition was found to be related by a physician in March of 2016 and not before. Since the claimant had no treatment before 2016 and continued to work, the claimant was found to be timely.
Our office was able to have the above case found to be a timely filing of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is important to keep in mind that if you are diagnosed with carpal tunnel and you have a discussion with the doctor as to the cause, your case would be ripe for filing a claim for the condition. We would suggest at that time you consult with an attorney that specializes in workers compensation claims in order to assist you in the process. Our office would be happy to do so.