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Is Nerve Damage Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

In almost any work environment, employees are at risk of injury. Whether sitting on a computer all day or completing labor-intensive construction work, the human body is susceptible to a wide range of injuries, particularly to the nervous system. Nerve damage, also known as peripheral neuropathy, can occur during the workday or from extended and repetitive use of a motor function. These injuries are often painful and can be disabling, needing months or years to heal. 

Because nerve damage has a large range of severity, one might wonder if it is covered under a Workers’ Compensation claim. Most states require companies to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for their employees, including New Jersey. Only a few industries may be exempt from this requirement, such as shipyard and railroad workers. However, in most cases, nerve damage is considered a covered injury. 

What is Nerve Damage?

Nerve damage is a serious injury that can lead to pain, loss of motor function or abilities, and in severe cases, permanent disability or death. The condition is known as peripheral neuropathy, a type of blockage or damage to the nervous system, which provides vital communication between the body’s organs to the brain. There are many symptoms that occur when the nervous system is damaged and can normally be traced back to some form of trauma to the body.

What Causes Nerve Damage?

It is important to remember that any injury can cause peripheral neuropathy. Any event that causes physical trauma can crush, stretch, tear, compress, or bruise the body’s tissue, which can damage the nerves. An injury can also cause other parts of the body to put pressure on the nerves, such as a dislocated shoulder.  Repetitive motions, such as typing, reaching, or climbing, can cause abnormal movement to the body skeleton or muscles, which could then pinch or compress the nerves. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a common injury that causes the wrist to deform, resulting in nerve damage. In more serious cases, any form of impact on the body can cause permanent nerve damage. For example, if a worker falls off a ladder and suffers a back injury, the spinal cord will most likely be affected, which is a vital part of the nervous system and the overall health of the individual. 

How Does Nerve Damage Relate to One’s Work Performance?

To understand the range of injuries one could suffer from peripheral neuropathy, it should be stated how important the nervous system is. There are many different types of neuropathy that can affect the motor, sensory, and autonomic nerves. Diseases can also cause nerve damage. Autoimmune diseases are a large factor in peripheral neuropathy; diseases such as lupus cause neuropathic pain and can be aggravated at work. The following are other diseases that can cause neuropathy:

  • Heart disease: When parts of the body lack blood flow, it affects the overall organ and tissue of the area, which includes the nervous system. Suffering from a cardiac event can easily lead to nerve damage, and there are several factors at work that could have contributed to the event. 
  • Diabetes: Diabetes can occur due to an underlying injury, such as the use of steroids to treat an autoimmune disease or another underlying condition.  Weight gain can occur due to inactivity from job loss or while rehabilitating from an injury that rendered one unable to move, which can also lead to diabetes. 
  • Kidney and liver disease: Kidney damage can occur from work-related stress or hypertension, which could lead to nerve damage. There is also concern for chemical exposure in certain industries that can cause liver and kidney damage.
  • Cancer: Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can cause side-effects of neuropathy, and cancer can be work-related due to chemical exposure or working for extended periods under the sun. 
  • Viruses: Work-related viruses and infections can also cause neuropathy. A worker could expose others to the current coronavirus without realizing it. Infections develop due to untreated injuries or from working in unsanitary conditions. Lyme disease can be contracted from ticks if one’s occupation is mostly outdoors. 

Diagnosis

Diagnosing neuropathy usually involves a nerve conduction velocity test (NCV) or an electromyography (EMG) by inserting needles into the patient’s muscles to detect abnormalities. Nerve damage can be felt as soon as an injury occurs and may worsen if left untreated. An injured employee should openly discuss any symptoms or pain to their doctor. Through a proper medical examination, causation for the injury and a possible nerve damage diagnosis can be determined for a Workers’ Compensation claim.   

It is important to keep in constant contact with your doctor to monitor your injuries and subsequent rehabilitation. Not all Workers’ Compensation claims are simple; there are times when an insurance company may dispute the claim. A knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer will review each case and help with any challenges that may arise.

Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Help Injured Workers Receive the Benefits They Deserve

If you suffered nerve damage due to a work injury, contact the Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC right away.  Our skilled and knowledgeable lawyers will review your case and obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us today at 856-751-7676 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey, as well as Trevose, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.

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