Visitor Question

Union Member Construction Injury…

Submitted By: Allie (Lancaster CA)

I’m asking for my husband, he has been an insulator with the union for 28 years and 5 months ago started having severe pain in his hand and numbness too. When he went to the doctor he was told he had carpal tunnel in both hands.

He has been on workers comp for 4 months now. They send us a check every 2 weeks but sometimes they are a week or 2 late and he is still being charged union dues. He will be having surgery on his hand and elbow very soon but we need some legal help.

Will the workers comp insurance reimburse us for the loss of income and the loss of use for his hands? What if he can’t go back into construction after this or what if they don’t keep him at work after this? Help please. Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Allie,

Carpal Tunnel syndrome is very common in the construction field where years and years of wrist rotations finally wear on the underlying nerves found there. Workers Compensation is a very specialized area of law, so if you do decide to retain an attorney, make sure he or she is one that regularly handles Workers Compensation in his or her practice.

There are many rules governed by statute that the attorney must know in order to be an effective advocate. That said, here is the general idea of how it works:

1. Your husband will be assessed by a workers compensation doctor and receive treatment that is appropriate to the injury. As you mentioned, he is scheduled for surgery which would indicate that it is significant.

2. Once the treatment is concluded or there is a good prognosis, the employee will be “rated” and assigned a percentage of disability. This means that they will determine whether your husband can perform his tasks and they will state, for example that he is 65% disabled. They may even decide that the injury is permanent.

This rating is directly compared to a matrix which lists the settlement figures for different industries. Clearly a doctor will receive more than a cashier because any settlement is based upon gross income.

3. The workers compensation adjuster should offer your husband a settlement which will take into consideration his rating, his past and future income and whether reasonable accommodation can be made for him to continue working in light of the injury. This is where a skillful lawyer may be required.

It is possible that your husband may not be able to return to his trade, however workers compensation also encompasses an area defined as vocational rehabilitation whereby the employer pays to re-train the injured employee in a NEW field.

While this may not sound appealing at first given that he has worked in his field for a very long time, he needs to also think about quality of life and whether returning to his industry will exacerbate an already painful condition such as carpal tunnel.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: August 13, 2010

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