Katz Friedman helped a UAW member fight Caterpillar at a hearing for a Workers’ Compensation claim regarding a repetitive work injury that caused carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Arbitrator awarded her full benefits and an injury settlement after a full hearing.
The assembly line worker has been employed with Caterpillar in Decatur for over 10 years. During that time, she worked on multiple lines and assembled large mining trucks using all sorts of air guns, pneumatic, torque, and hand tools. As a result of her repetitive work, she developed carpal tunnel and eventually needed a carpal tunnel release surgery.
Caterpillar denied her Workers’ Compensation claim indicating that her work duties were not repetitive or forceful enough to cause her conditions. They attempted to have their plant physician do a shop walk and document her work duties to confirm their denial that her work was not repetitive or forceful. Caterpillar also obtained a medical evaluation from a hired doctor to indicate her carpal tunnel was not work-related but was due “…to the fact that she is a middle-aged female with a history of smoking” and determined it was idiopathic. This medical term states that the condition just happened “spontaneously,” so it is a convenient way for employers, like Caterpillar, to attempt to evade liability for injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.