When people hear the term carpal tunnel syndrome, many generally think of typists, factory workers, and other people who have to perform repetitive tasks with their hands. And while it is often classified as a repetitive use injury, it can also be caused by sudden trauma, such as in a car accident. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) from a car accident is referred to as acute CTS or traumatic CTS.
CTS can range from mild to debilitating and can cause significant adverse ramifications for accident victims. Insurers often argue claims of this nature, so claimants will need substantial medical documentation to support their case. If you have developed acute CTS after a car accident in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, call our car accident attorneys at Saile & Saile, LLP to discuss your options for compensation.
What exactly is carpal tunnel syndrome?
The carpal tunnel is the small space along the wrist that houses the median nerve, blood vessels, and several flexor tendons that run from the forearm to the palm of the hand. CTS is a condition that arises out of damage to and pressure around the carpal tunnel.
In a car accident, if the structures in the forearm, wrist, and hands such as the nerves, tendons, and muscles sustain damage and become inflamed, the wrist can swell and compress the median nerve, causing CTS. The damage commonly occurs when people brace themselves or tense up and grip the steering wheel just before impact. The impact with the steering wheel and excess force and tension on the wrist area winds up causing damage to the soft tissues.
Symptoms of CTS can include the following.
- Aching pain
- Weakness in the hands
- Reduced grip strength and a tendency to drop things
You may not feel the symptoms of CTS right away; damage to the carpal tunnel can take a while to manifest. On the other hand, you may also notice symptoms straightaway. It is important to seek medical attention immediately after an accident, and thereafter as you experience additional pain, discomfort, and/or limited mobility in your back, neck, or extremities.
What are the effects of CTS?
The symptoms of CTS may come and go, and worsen over time if not treated. Many people find their condition worsens at night, waking them up and causing restlessness, which in turn can contribute to sleep deprivation and persistent grogginess. With numbness and reduced grip strength, it can make daily tasks difficult to perform. It can be impossible to work if your hands are not functioning correctly. Even brushing your hair or teeth can become difficult.
If you suspect that you are developing CTS, you will want to address your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor will give you a medical exam, review your history, and likely order several types of diagnostic tests to see what types of internal damage your wrist may have, as well as to rule out any other conditions.
Depending upon the severity and persistence of your injuries, your doctor may recommend the following conservative or invasive treatments for CTS.
- Avoiding excess strain to the area and any activities that aggravate your symptoms
- Cold packs
- Wrist splinting
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Surgery (either endoscopic or open surgery)
Some patients find relief with alterative measures, too, such as yoga, hand therapy (physical and occupational hand therapy techniques), and ultrasound therapy.
How can I recover damages for CTS?
CTS may not seem like a serious condition, but rest assured, the associated medical bills can amass quickly. Diagnostic tests, treatments, prescriptions, and surgeries, not to mention lost wages for any time you have to take off work can place a major financial burden on you and your family. How will you pay for everything?
If your CTS resulted from a car accident, you can seek recovery for your expenses by filing a car accident claim. If you were at fault for the crash and have adequate coverage, you can file with your insurer. If the other party was at fault, you should start by filing with her insurer.
Before filing your claim, make sure to find out if you have limited tort or full tort insurance as this could affect your claim.
If your claim is disputed or you are having problems getting the full amount of compensation you are entitled to, taking the case to court is another viable option. Your best bet in determining liability and pursing a settlement is to run your case by an auto accident attorney. A lawyer will be able not only to help you choose the legal avenues that would benefit you most, but also help you preempt and overcome a lot of hassles that occur with CTS claims.
What challenges might I face when filing a CTS claim?
Because CTS is a soft tissue injury that is difficult to prove with diagnostic tests, insurance adjusters commonly refute the claims or the severity of your injuries. They may claim you are exaggerating your symptoms or are understating your ability to work. They may also deny your claim outright by saying that your CTS was caused by factors other than your car accident.
You will have the challenge of substantiating your claim – and gathering the evidence necessary to do so. In order to successfully prove your claim, you will have to establish several elements.
- The existence of your CTS
- The severity of your symptoms
- The extent of all of your damages
- The accident caused your CTS
If you are filing a claim or lawsuit against another party, you will also have to have proof that the other driver was at fault for the crash. All of this may seem overwhelming, but it is accomplishable and highly worth the effort if your symptoms are serious and your damages substantial. Having a lawyer can help tremendously.
For help collecting compensation for your CTS from a car accident in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, contact a car accident lawyer at Saile & Saile, LLP. We regularly handle all types of injury cases, including CTS car accident claims. We have the legal resources and skills needed to prove these types of challenging claims and help victims secure maximum restitution so that they can move past their injuries and get on with their lives. Call us today at 215-486-8196 for a free consultation.