What is the Carpal Tunnel Workers’ Compensation Average Settlement?

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Written By Rocky Horton

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Workers’ compensation for carpal tunnel has to cover pain, loss of work, and even loss of potential due to this increasingly common occupational injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects around 5% of American adults at any given time, which makes it one of the most common workers’ comp issues as well.

Continue reading for a guide on carpal tunnel workers’ compensation. If you believe you are entitled to a carpal tunnel settlement due to an injury sustained at work, either from an accident or chronic injury, you may be wondering how to prove your case, the factors that contribute to it, and the settlement you can expect.

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome or CTS is a neuropathy caused by the compression of a nerve that travels through your wrist. In fact, CTS represents 90% of all reported neuropathies, according to the NIH.

CTS is named for the tunnel or passage that travels from the hand to the wrist, containing many tendons and ligaments crucial to proper hand functioning. A nerve called the median nerve passes through this tunnel. Anything that compresses this nerve can cause the condition, whether by acute or chronic forces.

The causes of CTS often result from many factors, including genetic predisposition, environmental risks, age, other health conditions, and occupational behavior. The multifactored causes of CTS can make it difficult to receive carpal tunnel compensation since predisposition could reduce or negate a settlement and occupational risk factors can be difficult to prove.

Broadly speaking, carpal tunnel syndrome can result from physical conditions such as:

  • Dislocated or fractured carpus bones
  • Chronic infections
  • Tendon inflammation/hypertrophy
  • Inflammatory rheumatism
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney failure
  • Tumors, including lipomas or neural tumors
  • Hematomas

However, it can also result from occupational risks, such as increased pressure in the carpus due to repetitively extending it or being exposed to powerful vibrations.

A successful carpal tunnel settlement must distinguish between the physical conditions that can cause or increase the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and the occupational hazards that can directly result in it.

Note that the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can result from other conditions that cause or mimic neuropathy. However, the hallmark signs to watch for include:

  • Electric shock feeling in the hands
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning in hands and fingers
  • Arm and shoulder pain/tingling
  • A weak grip

How Much Money Can You Get for Carpal Tunnel?

Carpal tunnel workers’ compensation can pay as much as $70,000, but the settlement you receive depends on the damage you sustained and the evidence you present. Note that workers’ comp does not pay for pain and suffering like a personal injury suit. Carpal tunnel workers’ compensation only covers the economic damages of your condition, including medical treatments (both past and future), physical therapy, medication costs, and future earnings.

Even if your job caused your carpal tunnel syndrome, it will be harder to get a large settlement if tests reveal that you have undiagnosed diabetes, kidney failure, hypothyroidism, or other conditions known to potentially cause CTS.

Therefore, the size of your carpal tunnel compensation depends on properly calculating the damages based on evidence that directly links your condition to your occupational risk factors.

How to Calculate Carpal Tunnel Compensation?

To calculate carpal tunnel compensation, you will first need to medically verify the severity of your condition. While severe carpal tunnel syndrome can be worth the maximum settlement, mild or moderate cases may only be compensated $2,500-$25,000.

The severity of the condition is determined by the amount of compression being placed on your median nerve. More compression means more paralysis of nerve function, leading to your symptoms. Since carpal tunnel affects each hand separately, each is separately rated for compression to determine the overall severity of your case. 

Talk to your doctor about your job to see if they will medically verify that your condition was caused by occupational work factors. You do not need to have a negligent employer who was “at fault” for your condition to receive compensation. However, your case must directly link your condition to your work activities.

What Factors Can Impact a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The main factors in a carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim are the severity of the injury, the likelihood that it was caused by occupational risk factors, and the predicted medical expenses that will result from the condition.

Carpal tunnel syndrome may be common, but it can result in expensive medical bills for treatments and testing, temporary or even permanent disability, and occupational retraining if you can no longer work at your current job because of your condition.

Remember that the economic damages covered by workers’ comp include both present and future medical expenses. They also include the potential loss of work caused by the injury. Since carpal tunnel can be a result of repetitive motions specific to certain jobs, a change of duties or even careers is often warranted following a diagnosis (see below for a list of the specific jobs most often affected).

How to Prove Carpal Tunnel is Work-Related?

A successful carpal tunnel settlement requires evidence that your injury is work-related, including a doctor’s diagnosis and any relevant documentation.

The burden of proof for carpal tunnel compensation is lighter for workers who suffered a fall or other acute injury since on-site or off-site medical workers have a clear cause of injury to diagnose and treat. If your wrist injury is the result of an accident, your next steps should be:

  • Notify your supervisor immediately
  • Receive medical attention from on-site personnel and then from emergency care providers or a primary care physician
  • Document the site of the injury, including photos of any damaged equipment or other hazards like a slippery floor
  • Collect the contact information of relevant witnesses
  • Make sure the accident has been reported to the insurers

These incidents are easier to prove than cases involving repetitive injuries that cause the condition over a long period. For chronic injuries, more detailed evidence is needed concerning your work habits.

The most important thing to do with chronic injuries is to speak with your doctor candidly about your work habits in the hope that they can confirm your job’s occupational risk factors in the development of your CTS.

What Jobs are Most Likely to Result in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

The jobs most likely to result in carpal tunnel syndrome involve repetitive hand and finger movements, especially when vibrations are present. Vibrations can break up tendons and disturb nerves over time, leading to conditions like CTS.

The most commonly afflicted jobs include construction workers, truck drivers, data entry specialists, butchers, sewers and textile workers, administrative workers, painters, locksmiths, cashiers, musicians, and typists.

Unlike conditions where physical activity is the main risk factor, carpal tunnel compensation is more prevalent in jobs that require small, repetitive tasks such as typing and machine operation.

With some jobs such as management requiring over 80% of employees to use a computer regularly, the number of carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claims is expected to increase in the coming years.

Common Treatments for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The most common treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome include wrist splints, medication, rest, and surgery. The severity of the injury dictates the intensity of the treatment, as diagnosed by a physical exam and often an X-ray, ultrasound, or nerve conduction study.

For mild cases, a doctor may prescribe more frequent breaks at work, special stretching exercises, avoiding certain wrist activities, and keeping cold packs on hand to reduce swelling.

For moderate cases, they may prescribe a wrist splint, an NSAID to fight infection, or a corticosteroid injection to reduce pain.

For severe cases, endoscopic or open surgery may be needed to relieve pressure on the median nerve by severing certain ligaments.

According to the National Safety Council, the wrist is the body part with the third highest median days lost per incident from 2019-2020, trailing behind knees and shoulders. According to the study, the average wrist injury costs workers 15 days of work.

If you are experiencing the hallmark signs of CTS and want to file workers’ comp for carpal tunnel, you will likely need to be tested to rule out other conditions and then treated for the condition you have, which will take several days at least.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

To file a carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim, you need to seek immediate treatment, document your injuries, and watch what you say.

If you do not seek immediate treatment, the workers’ comp attorney may claim that you were not injured on the job. Your employer must file with workers’ comp first to start the claim, but you can always pursue a lawsuit for damages if the workers’ comp for carpal tunnel that you receive is not adequate to cover your expenses.

You should begin documenting your claim right away, including any photos of the scene, any witness testimony, and any doctors’ reports or test results. Copies of your employers’ training and safety records could be important as well.

Watch what you say during this process since you can invalidate your claim if you post about it on social media or downplay your pain. Speak with a work injury lawyer to learn more about what you should and shouldn’t do to file a successful carpal tunnel workers’ compensation claim. 

How Can a Work Injury Lawyer Help?

A work injury lawyer can help you win your workers’ comp settlement by teaching you what to do and say, collecting the proper evidence, and having your back during negotiations. 

Remember that the insurance adjusters, employers, and workers’ comp attorneys are not your friends. They will fight to reduce or deny your claim by collecting their own evidence. Only speak to them when necessary and stick to proven facts.

A work injury lawyer will defend your case and coordinate your evidence when everyone else is fighting to reduce your settlement.


Workers’ comp for carpal tunnel helps those who were injured on the job receive a settlement for the economic damages they sustained, including medical treatments. Since carpal tunnel syndrome is common and potentially chronic, long-term cases can be difficult to prove compared to carpal tunnel compensation for a specific incident. Contact a work injury lawyer to learn how to file your carpal tunnel workers’ compensation case.

Rocky Horton

Rocky Horton


Rocky Horton is a health and safety expert from Chapel Hill, NC. He is the founder of AccidentAdvisor and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, and other publications. Learn more.