A reader asked us a long question that I will shorten for the blog. The question was essentially:
Do you need a doctor to say carpal tunnel came from working on your job or can you beat a case due to the type of work a person has performed for many years?
It’s a good question. You’d think that if the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has found hundreds of cases of typing all day or working on an assembly line caused carpal tunnel that it should be obvious your carpal tunnel is work related. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.
When you bring a claim you have the burden of showing that it’s more likely than not that your job played a role in whatever injury you have. So while typing and forcefully using your hands all day can cause carpal tunnel, so can many other things.
As a result, to win your case, you need an opinion from a doctor, preferably an orthopedic one, that discusses the role your job had in your injury. You shouldn’t just ask your doctor if it’s work related but instead should be very detailed about your job duties and then ask the question. The doctor needs to know how long you’ve been doing the job, how often you do the activities, what type of force or angle you use, what you notice while working, what you notice at the end of the shift, etc.
It would be the same for any other injury that is from repetitive trauma and not a singular accident.
You could theoretically win without a doctor’s opinion, but it would be a terrible idea to go that route. I certainly can’t recall a case that was won that way and even the worst lawyers I know don’t go that route.
Whether you want to hire a lawyer or not, I highly recommend that you speak with one before asking your doctor to comment. Asking the question the right way and understanding the law can often be the difference between winning and losing one of these cases.