If you have suffered a pinched nerve at work, you are most likely unable to perform your work duties and your daily activities might be affected. Because of this injury, you may not be able to earn a gainful income and take care of your living expenses. You might be wondering if you can pursue a claim to receive short-term disability benefits. Since the injury took place on the job, you should pursue a workers’ compensation claim. Short-term disability and workers’ compensation differ greatly, and you want to get access to all the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Most employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation coverage for their employees at no charge. Each state sets its own laws regarding workers’ comp, but the coverage is very similar. All workers’ compensation programs include medical benefits coverage, which covers the cost of your medical care for treatment of your injury or illness, and covers a portion, which usually totals about two-thirds, of your regular paycheck. Sometimes additional benefits, such as a lump sum settlement for long-term or permanent disabilities and vocational retraining, might be offered.
What are the Causes of a Pinched Nerve at Work?
A pinched nerve takes place when too much pressure occurs to a nerve from its surrounding tissues, like tendons, muscles, bones and cartilage. This pressure interferes with the nerve's function and causes pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the area affected. A pinched nerve in the wrist is a common occurrence at work when repetitive motions using the hand take place. It is called carpal tunnel syndrome. There are certain occupations that make people vulnerable to this condition, such as assembly line workers, bakers, knitters, sewers, cashiers, hair stylists and musicians.
What to Do If You Get a Pinched Nerve at work?
Developing a pinched nerve that makes it impossible to do a job well because of the constant pain isn’t quite the same as being injured in a workplace accident. It develops over time and it gets to the point that the condition needs to be treated and time off work is required. When it comes to claiming workers’ compensation as long as you can prove the pinched nerve occurred at work you should be eligible for workers’ compensation.
The first thing you need to do is inform your supervisor you will be taking time off work to get treatment for your pinched nerve. This should be in writing and completed usually within 24 hours of you taking time off work. You may be told that if you want your medical treatment covered by workers’ compensation that you will need to seek treatment from an employer appointed doctor. If you follow that requirement it may help to support your WC claim. Now you need to complete a workers’ compensation claim form. If you are lucky your employer should be able to provide you with one.
You will need to complete key information on the WC claims form about your injury as follows:
- your full name;
- your job title;
- the name of your injury;
- how and when the injury took place;
- whether any other employee contributed to your injury.
Just providing these details may not be sufficient to win a WC claim. You will need to provide indisputable evidence that your pinched nerve is work related. This could include any of the following:
- eye witness reports explaining your injury;
- photographs showing how difficult your job is with your pinched nerve;
- a medical report from your doctor describing the cause of the pinched nerve injury, the treatment provided and the likely recovery time;
- receipts for treatment you have already paid for and out of pocket expenses such as taxi to get you to the doctor;
- invoices for unpaid treatment.
Workers’ compensation insurers often deny a WC claim because the evidence doesn’t support the assertion that the pinched nerve injury took place at work. If you believe that your evidence could be doubted you should discuss your claim with a workers’ compensation lawyer who will decide if your claim needs more evidence for it to be accepted. You want to avoid getting your claim denied as this may mean you will have to file an appeal.
How Much Does a Pinched Nerve Cost?
When it comes to assessing your workers’ compensation claim you can expect to receive the cost of all your medical treatment, out of pocket expenses and 2/3rds of your weekly wage until you return to work.
Breakdown of costs for a pinched nerve such as carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist:
- a doctor’s appointment = $200;
- a wrist brace would cost about = $30;
- drugstore charges for a single month’s supply of the generic drug gabapentin = $200;
- surgery if required = $7,000;
- 12 weeks off work following surgery which for an assembly worker is 2/3rds of $560 per week is $370 X 12 = $4,320,
The possible total cost of a pinched in the wrist would be a minimum of $11,750. If the pinched nerve occurred in the spine, the costs of treatment if it included surgery would be considerably more than a pinched nerve in the wrist. The patient would need much more time off work recovering as well as reduced mobility for a period of time where out of pocket costs will need to be added to the workers’ compensation claim.
What is Short-Term Disability?
Short-term disability is a program that offers workers a portion of their paycheck while they are unable to work because of an illness or injury. This condition could have developed while the worker was on his or her own time. Usually, short-term disability insurance is optional, and workers pay for it themselves or have it deducted from their paychecks. Because it only covers the basics, which is your income, you should not use short-term disability coverage for a workplace injury if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Usually, you cannot receive both workers’ compensation and short-term disability payments together, or the disability payment might reduce your payout from workers’ compensation.
Determining How to Proceed
You should read over your short-term disability plan to see how it comes into play if you have suffered a workplace injury. Be sure to file your workers’ compensation claim in a timely manner, as a strict timeframe applies. If you don’t get everything filed by the deadline for your workers’ compensation claim, you will be denied benefits. You don’t want to risk losing your workers’ compensation benefits because a pinched nerve can have long-term effects and lead to mounting medical expenses and a lot of missed work.
Consult With a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
A workers’ compensation attorney will help you file your claim for a pinched nerve at work. He or she will also review your short-term disability policy and will help you determine if you can file a claim for both kinds of insurance coverage. Your workers’ comp lawyer will ensure your best interests are protected and will make sure you get access to the benefits that you are entitled to receive in such situations. Schedule your free case evaluation today, so you can get your claim handled efficiently and effectively.