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How Much Is a Workers' Comp Carpal Tunnel Settlement?

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A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
March 31, 2024  ·  5 min read
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Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when the median nerve — which runs through the wrist — is pinched or compressed. It can qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits as long as it was caused or significantly worsened by your job duties.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 34,000 Americans injure their wrists at work annually, including repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel, and 38% missed at least a month of work to recover.1 Long-term injuries can also lead to a settlement worth tens of thousands of dollars. 

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome and it leaves you unable to do your job, here’s how much you could get from a workers’ compensation settlement.


How much is the average workers' comp carpal tunnel settlement?

The average workers’ comp settlement for carpal tunnel is $34,055 based on 2023 data from the National Safety Council (NSC). That payment includes $18,136 as an indemnity payment (for lost wages) and $15,919 to cover medical expenses.2

Carpal tunnel payouts are higher on average than other wrist and hand injury settlements. Severe cases could also settle for more, like if your carpal tunnel requires surgery.

You deserve a fair workers' comp settlement. Atticus can help.

Why your carpal tunnel settlement could be higher

How much you get from a settlement depends on the severity of your condition, which body parts are affected, and how much the carpal tunnel affects your ability to work.

If working with your hands is essential to your job, then your settlement could be higher because you’ll need more time away from work. For example, if your job requires typing at a computer for most or all of the day, you’ll likely get a higher settlement than someone who doesn’t use their hands as much during work.

When your carpal tunnel affects additional body parts — like your hands, fingers, thumbs, or forearms — you may face a more complicated recovery and be able to negotiate a higher settlement. A pre-existing injury could also complicate your recovery. Older workers typically need longer to recover, so they tend to receive higher settlements.

Learn more about when workers’ comp typically offers a settlement.


Does carpal tunnel always qualify for workers’ comp? 

Carpal tunnel qualifies for workers’ comp as long as you can prove it was a direct result of your job. You’ll also need to miss at least a few workdays — more in some states — and report to your employer that your carpal tunnel is work-related.

You have a limited number of days to report your injury to your employer. Most states give you three to seven days after you’ve been diagnosed with carpal tunnel and your doctor determines it was likely work-related. After that period has passed, getting workers’ comp becomes very challenging if not impossible.


Who qualifies for workers’ comp?

Employees can qualify for workers’ compensation as long as their employer offers coverage. Almost all employers in the country are required to have workers’ comp if they have multiple employees.

Unfortunately, you won’t qualify for workers’ comp if you’re an independent contractor, freelancer, gig worker, or self-employed worker. (Read more about who does and doesn’t qualify.)

Common occupations affected by carpal tunnel

Though carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is commonly associated with typing, someone in any industry or career can experience CTS.

As long as a doctor diagnoses you with CTS and you can show that your work either caused or significantly contributed to your carpal tunnel, you can qualify.

Below are some common occupations where workers could experience carpal tunnel:

  • Office worker

  • Seamstress

  • Chef

  • Baker

  • Cashier

  • Factory worker

  • Hairstylist

  • Electrician

  • Plumber

  • Housekeeper

Learn more about the types of injuries that qualify for workers’ comp.


When does workers’ comp offer a settlement for carpal tunnel?

Workers with carpal tunnel don’t always receive a settlement. You’re more likely to get a settlement offer from the insurance company if you’ll be out of work for a long time, particularly if you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) and will need to transition to permanent disability benefits.

Settlements are more common when carpal tunnel becomes chronic and will interfere with your work indefinitely or if you require complicated medical care. In either case, the insurance company could agree to settle so it can avoid long-term payments.

Whether you should accept depends on your case. Talking with a workers’ comp lawyer can help you make the best decision for your situation.

Related: What Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do That I Can’t


What should you do if you get a settlement offer?

You can respond in one of three ways if the insurance company offers to settle for your carpal tunnel:

  1. Accept the settlement.

  2. Reject the settlement and continue workers’ comp benefits.

  3. Negotiate a better settlement.

These can all be great options and the right choice depends on your situation. Your goal is to secure a settlement large enough to cover current and future medical care, future lost wages from missed work time, plus any other costs of living you’ll have while out of work.

Since settlement calculations get complicated quickly, it’s a good idea to find a workers’ comp lawyer once you get a settlement offer. A local lawyer can advise you on fair compensation based on your industry, the prognosis for your carpal tunnel, and the cost of medical care in your area.

Having a lawyer also evens the playing field since the insurer likely has its own lawyer (or even a whole team of them) whose job it is to help the insurance pay you as little as possible. The average settlement for an Atticus client is twice as high as workers who settle their case on their own.


How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?

If you decide not to settle, workers’ comp in most states offers payments worth up to two-thirds (66.67%) of your average pre-injury wages. Permanent benefits may be worth less, and how long they last depends on your state rules. Insurance should cover your medical bills related to the carpal tunnel, but it will pay your medical providers directly.

Check the workers’ comp rates in your state for a more accurate estimate.


How long will payments last if I don’t settle?

Workers’ comp payments generally last until you either reach MMI, return to work, or settle with the insurance company. You should automatically transition to permanent workers’ comp benefits if you reach MMI but still can’t return to work. Your workers’ comp doctor will assign you a disability rating or impairment rating, which will determine how long your permanent disability payments last. If you lose total use of your wrist, hand, or fingers, lifetime payments are a possibility.

Here’s more on how long payments last.


Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?

You aren’t required to work with a workers’ comp lawyer, but having one can simplify the process, especially if the insurance company offers to settle. An experienced lawyer will know what an appropriate payout is for carpal tunnel in your area. If your payments end unexpectedly or insurance won’t pay for medical care, a lawyer can fight to ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. 

Along the way, a lawyer can also help you schedule medical care from more independent doctors. In some states (like California) the insurance gets to choose your workers’ comp doctor unless you have a lawyer.

Cost isn’t a concern, either. Reputable workers’ compensation lawyers offer free initial consultations and won’t ask for payment upfront. You won’t have to pay until after you get your settlement. If they don’t help you get a settlement, you don’t have to pay them.

Atticus is a workers’ comp firm with experienced lawyers across the country. Get connected with a lawyer in your area today.

Get workers' comp help today.

Common questions about workers’ comp for carpal tunnel

Who qualifies for workers’ comp?

Most full-time and part-time workers can qualify for workers’ comp, but independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers don’t usually qualify.

Can carpal tunnel qualify for workers’ comp?

If your carpal tunnel is serious enough that you need to miss work — and you report it to your employer quickly — you could qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Here’s how long you have to report a work injury in your state.

How much will my settlement be for carpal tunnel?

The average workers’ comp settlement for carpal tunnel is just over $34,000 nationally. You could get much more depending on your situation. If you want to maximize your settlement, contact a workers’ comp attorney.

Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?

It depends on your personal situation. Negotiating is best in many cases, but we recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision. They can help you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other bills while you’re out of work.

Will surgery increase my carpal tunnel settlement?

It depends. Wrist or hand surgery to treat your carpal tunnel could increase your potential settlement if it doesn’t lead to a recovery or you have complications. But surgery could also decrease your potential settlement if it greatly improves or eliminates your symptoms. Get a more detailed answer in our guide to when surgery increases workers’ comp settlements.

Will I pay tax on my workers’ comp settlement?

No. Workers’ compensation settlements aren’t taxable, with only very rare exceptions.

What if I can’t return to work because of my carpal tunnel?

You may qualify for long-term benefits through programs like SSDI. Learn more about your options if you can’t return to work after an injury or illness.

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Related resources:

When Will Workers' Comp Offer a Settlement?

Average Workers’ Comp Settlements by Body Part

See what you qualify for

How long ago did you get an injury or illness at work?

References

  1. 1.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics, Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities,” U.S. Department of Labor, accessed January 26, 2024, https://www.bls.gov/iif/.
  2. 2.
    Workers’ Compensation Costs,” National Safety Council, accessed April 30, 2024, https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/work/costs/workers-compensation-costs/.
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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