Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a well known repetitive trauma injury, is generally covered under Illinois workers’ compensation law. This means that if your job causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), then you can file a claim for benefits with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The same is true of other repetitive trauma injuries, including De Quervain’s, rotator cuff injury, herniated disks, cubital tunnel, etc.
Illinois provides fairly significant benefits for workers who are injured on the job. You should receive 100% coverage of your medical bills, 2/3 of lost income if you are unable to work because of your injury, and often a settlement if any part of your injury is permanent. The catch, if you want to call it that, is that your injury has to be caused by your job.
Repetitive trauma cases come with certain challenges because they occur slowly over time in most cases. The first challenge is proving that your job caused the injury. In order to be eligible for benefits, you have to prove a link. The specific language in the law is that the injury must “arise out of and in the course of” your employment. Because repetitive stress injuries occur over time, you can’t usually point to a single incident that happened at work and say that it caused your injury.
One very important way to address this is to see your doctor right away when you start getting symptoms and explain to your doctor what your job requires you to do. If you don’t give them a good understanding of your job duties, they might miss a link between your injury and your job. Obviously, it’s important to be honest. We’re just saying that you should make sure to be clear.
Another challenge is knowing when to notify your employer or make a claim. There are deadlines based on when you were injured, but the date of injury is often unclear in these cases. As soon as you know your work is causing your injury, report it to your employer and file a claim. If you miss the deadlines, you might lose out on your benefits. You generally have 45 days to notify your employer and three years to file a claim. Sooner is almost always better.
Insurance companies look for ways to deny claims because it saves them money. Repetitive stress claims, because of the challenges mentioned above, unfortunately give them more opportunities for saying no to your benefits. We’re not saying these reasons for denying coverage are legitimate, just the insurance company is likely to try. Also, don’t let your employer tell you that your injury isn’t covered. If it was caused by your job, it’s likely covered.
If your claim is denied, you can request a hearing in front of an arbitrator, who is the judge in a workers’ compensation case. It’s recommended that you have an experienced attorney represent you at your hearing so that you can present the best case possible.