Whitt & Del Bueno, Attorneys at Law

Leaders in defending workers' compensation claims.


Son of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

By Mike Del Bueno

Last month’s e-newsletter focused on new medical evidence that rebuts the long-held notion that using a computer causes carpal tunnel syndrome, and also identified factors other than computer typing that can cause carpal tunnel syndrome. This month’s e-newsletter is a “sequel”, if you will, to last month’s e-newsletter. We’ll talk a little bit about carpal tunnel syndrome but with a slightly different focus.

That focus is this – carpal tunnel syndrome claims are being successfully defended and denied at the Commission and other courts. One of the main reasons for this successful defense is the burden of proof on causation that an employee carries for a carpal tunnel syndrome claim as an ordinary disease of life. That burden of proof must show that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome resulted from his job, and not from causes outside of his job (see February, 2006 e-newsletter for causes of carpal tunnel syndrome outside of the job).

Many times, the hardest part of that burden of proof for the employee to meet is the “clear and convincing” standard. Clear and convincing evidence is greater than a mere probability, but is not as great as “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

On other occasions, the employee will have difficulty actually proving that his carpal tunnel syndrome resulted from his job, and not from causes outside of his job. That is because the Commission and courts have held that it is not enough that the medical evidence relates the carpal tunnel syndrome to the job – the medical evidence must go further than that, and account for and exclude non-work related factors.

Now, the employee is not required to exclude every non-work factor or condition that he has. The employee is required, however, to exclude non-work related factor(s) or condition(s) that he has that could cause carpal tunnel syndrome. For example, an employee who bowls seven nights a week and has done so for the past twenty years would likely be required to exclude bowling as a cause of his carpal tunnel syndrome.

While you might not be able to successfully deny and defend every carpal tunnel syndrome claim, chances are that you can obtain a good result with many of these claims. Feel free to give us a call for advice on any carpal tunnel syndrome claim you have.