Workers Compensation – Part 2

An Oregon court ruled that an employee was not entitled to workers compensation benefits as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Church Law and Tax2001-09-01

Workers Compensation

Key point.Workers Compensation All states have enacted workers compensation laws to provide benefits to employees who are injured or become ill in the course of their employment. Benefits generally are financed through insurance premiums paid by employers. Churches are subject to workers compensation laws in most states.

An Oregon court ruled that an employee was not entitled to workers compensation benefits as a result of carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand that he attributed to his use of a computer at work. The court concluded that neither of the two physicians who examined the employee expressed an opinion that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by his work, and therefore workers compensation benefits were not available. One physician specifically did not state that the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome was due to his work at the keyboard, although the symptoms developed during this pattern of use and were aggravated by it. The other physician considered “body habits, fluid retention, and obesity” to be significant and major causes of the employee’s carpal tunnel syndrome rather than the extended periods of time he spent at a computer keyboard while at work.

Application. Workers compensation laws provide compensation to employees for work-related injuries. Often, it is difficult to determine if an injury was work-related. This is often the case with repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. This case demonstrates that employee complaints of carpal tunnel syndrome will not necessarily be compensable under state workers compensation law. Saif Corporation v. Chipman, 997 P.2d 899 (Ore. App. 2000).

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