Repetitive motion injuries are among the most common work injuries we see at Ginsberg Law Offices. If you have a repetitive motion injury like carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel syndrome, medical tests will likely confirm that you are hurt, but your employer and their insurance company may still fight your claim.
As you know, carpal tunnel or cubital tunnel injuries rarely occur due to a sudden trauma like a fall. Instead, your pain and limitation of movement usually develop over time – thus the name “repetitive” motion injuries.
If, for example, your job involves typing or data entry, and your keyboard is too high or too low, that occasional twinge may turn into a sharp shooting pain over a period of weeks or even months.
If your job involves gripping and struggling with a slowly turning wheel or machine part, you may be able to stand the pain for three or four months, but eventually find yourself without the strength to repeatedly turn that wheel.
What is Your Date of Injury?
When you finally decide that you simply cannot perform the duties of your job because of pain or lack of strength and you report your injury to your supervisor, you will be asked “when did this injury happen?” Is your date of injury the date that your pain became too intense for you to function, or is it some date several months ago when you first started to notice a problem.
Identifying a date of injury is important because Georgia’s workplace injury laws require that you give notice of your injury to your employer within 30 days of your injury, and you must file your claim within 1 year of your injury. What date we use and how that impacts your medical treatment and lost wage benefits are matters that are often litigated before a judge. In repetitive motion injury cases, we have to identify a date of injury that protects your interests while also preserving your access to medical care. I strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer before committing to a date of injury in any repetitive motion injury case.
Repetitive Motion Injury Claims Often Controverted
Even though it may seem clear to you that repeating the same motion at work day after day, month after month would result in carpal tunnel, cubital tunnel or a similar diagnosis, your employer and their insurance company may still try to deny your claim. They may argue that your non-work activities such as playing sports, working on your house, or even playing with your kids was the real cause for your wrist and arm strain.
It does not help that your employer will include doctors on their posted panel of physicians that derive most of their payments from insurance companies. We have seen many medical reports where the authorized doctor agreed with the insurance company’s position that your carpal tunnel diagnosis could not be definitively tied to your work activity, even when the facts are overwhelmingly in your favor.
We Have Tools to Fight Back
As frustrating as an unfair and arbitrary report from a biased doctor may be to you, we have tools at our disposal to fight back. In some cases, we can require the insurance company to pay for an independent medical examination with a physician of our choice, and we can use that doctor’s report to ask the State Board for a change in treating physician.
I can also depose (cross examine) the insurance company doctor under oath and force him to explain his reasoning. If the insurance doctor’s testimony does not hold up, I can often negotiate a change in treating physician with the insurance company’s lawyer, who knows that he would likely have a difficult time in front of a judge.
I can refer you to a highly credentialed doctor for an evaluation and, if that doctor finds that your work activity is most likely the cause of your repetitive motion injury, use that doctor’s report to request a change in treating physician or as leverage for settlement.