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Office Work and Workers’ compensation in North Carolina and Virginia

It’s natural to think that office work is much safer than jobs like construction work, first-responder jobs, healthcare work, and other types of jobs that involve a great amount of physical labor and risk. Yet office workers do suffer injuries on the job. When office workplace accidents cause injuries, the employees have the right to file a worker’s compensation claim to seek compensation for their medical bills and disability benefits while they cannot work.

According to Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, many of the injuries suffer involve repetitive stress injuries, ergonomic injuries, and injuries due to staying in one position for too long. Common office work injuries that will likely require that the employee files a workers’ compensation claim include the following:

Repetitive stress injuries

These disorders are injuries to the body due to doing the same tasks again and again and again. Typing and filing are two common examples. Repetitive stress injuries often affect the back, elbow, wrists, fingers, and neck.

Carpal tunnel syndrome. This disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic is due to pressure on the median nerve. Typing on the computer is a common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. “The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway surrounded by bones and ligaments on the palm side of the hand. When the median nerve is compressed, symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm.” Medical treatments are normally required to relieve the pain and restore wrist and hand function.

Some of the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include:

  • Tingling and numbness. Usually, all the fingers are affected with the exception of the little finger. The discomfort may feel like an electric shock. The sensation may travel up the worker’s arm.
  • Weakness. Workers with carpal tunnel syndrome may have difficulty holding on to objects.
  • Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include itching in the palm or fingers and burning sensations.

The proper position of the keyboard, computer monitor, and your wrists can help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. Other remedies include changing the slope of the keyboard, using a split keyboard, raising the level of the worker’s chair, and using a forearm support. Taking breaks and keeping your hands may help.

The treatments, according to the Mayo Clinic, for carpal tunnel syndrome include wrist splints, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroid injections. Carpal tunnel syndrome surgery seeks to “relieve pressure by cutting the ligament pressing on the median nerve.”

Other types of repetitive stress injuries include tendonitis, tennis elbow, Ganglion cysts, and Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Sitting for long stretches of time
Office workers should stand up and move around at regular work intervals. Sitting too long in one positions, especially if the worker’s posture is poor, can cause:

  • Low back pain. Workers who sit for long periods of time put pressure on their back, spine, and neck. Over time, the spine may move out of alignment. The ligaments and muscles of the back can become strained. The end result can be pain and discomfort. Workers may need to treat with orthopedists, pain management doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers. Workers should try to ensure that their back is straight while they work. If your shoulders are hunched, you probably need to change positions. Good chairs should have arm support and back support. A pillow can also help support your back.
  • Shoulder and neck pain. Poor posture often contributes to neck and shoulder pain – when workers are not sitting in quality chairs or if they sit for too long. If your keyboard is too far away or too close to a monitor, that can cause neck and shoulder pain too. Poor keyboard and monitor height can cause workers to be looking upward or downward, instead of straight ahead, which can also cause neck and shoulder pain. Shoulder and neck stretches may help since stretching helps reduce muscle and tendon tension.

Chiropractors help injured workers realign their spine which can loosen joints and reduce pinched nerves, muscle spasms, and pain in the neck region. Pain management doctors may prescribe steroid injections. Physical therapists help with movement and establishing an exercise return. Orthopedists and other doctors may be helpful if your trauma is more severe.

Workers’ compensation benefits for injured office workers-Must usually be an “accident arising out of employment.”

Office workers who lose time from work to treat their injuries have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits in both North Carolina and Virginia. Only employees can seek workers’ compensation benefits, not independent contractors. The injury has to be job-related. You can’t seek workers’ compensation benefits if you wrench your back while moving your living room home sofa around. You can generally seek workers’ compensation benefits if you can show your job caused your injuries; HOWEVER, other than carpal tunnel syndrome almost all “repetitive stress” injuries that occur over time are NOT compensable and will not be covered by worker’s compensation. Outside of that, other than some other kind of occupational disease claim such as one involving exposure to asbestos or dangerous chemicals or fumes over time, any workers comp claim you make as a result of an office injury is going to have to have occurred as result of an accident.

Workers’ compensation benefits include payment of all your medical expenses including ER care, surgeries, rehabilitative care, medications, and assistive devices such as walkers and canes. Generally, both North Carolina and Virginia cover chiropractic care, although to a limited extent.

While you’re seeking medical help so you can return to your job (or a comparable one), and your doctor holds you out of work, you should receive temporary total disability benefits (2/3rds of your average weekly wage). When you can return to work or your injuries have reached the point of maximum medical improvement, you will be evaluated to determine if you have a permanent partial impairment injury – and are entitled to some other monetary benefits.

If your injury is so severe that it prevents you from returning to your job, you would potentially be entitled to up to 500 weeks of ongoing temporary total disability. In that instance, your claim may form the basis for a substantial lump sum settlement.

At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation attorney has helped thousands of injured and ill employees obtain just recoveries. We’ll work to protect your rights so that you obtain file your claim promptly, see the doctors you need to see, and assert your full rights to compensation. To speak with a respected workers’ compensation lawyer, call attorney Joe Miller, Esq., at 888-667-8295 or complete my online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Our law firm does have a way for you to provide your details of your accident and injuries if you simply want to do that electronically from the comfort and safety of your home at any time of day or night. To utilize this service, simply click here: New Electronic Case Review.

We’ll get back to you, typically within 24 hours to provide our response as to whether your situation is one where we can provide you with legal representation. If we require more information, we’ll contact you and ask for that information in order to make that determination as to whether we are the best folks to assist you. If we ultimately determine that we cannot represent or assist you, we will not leave you high and dry. We’ll do our best to provide you with other resources to assist you.

Virginia Beach Office

5500-B Greenwich Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Elizabeth City Office
(by appointment only)
507 E Main St #K
Elizabeth City, NC 27907

If you are looking at this site, you or a loved one has probably been hurt. If that's true, you've come to the right place. Helping people who have been hurt is what we do. In fact, it is all we do. Joe Miller Law is a law firm concentrating exclusively on representing people who are injured by the carelessness of others or those hurt on the job. We provide the highest quality legal services to people who have been seriously injured. We practice Personal Injury law and Workmens' Compensation law in both Virginia and North Carolina.