I&F Prevails on Appeal to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission in Carpal Tunnel Case

Attorney Allison Mecher prevailed in an appeal to the IWCC in defense of an alleged repetitive trauma claim. The claimant, an Administrative Assistant/Executive Assistant to the Sheriff, sought workers’ compensation benefits for repetitive trauma carpal tunnel syndrome related to her job duties.

The claimant’s treating doctor diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome requiring surgery, and causally related the condition and need for surgery to the claimant’s job duties. The employer’s independent medical examiner agreed that the petitioner had carpal tunnel syndrome requiring surgery, but he opined that the condition was not related to the claimant’s job duties.

At trial, the Arbitrator found for the claimant, giving more weight to the treating doctor’s opinion. The Arbitrator awarded TTD, medical expenses, and permanency. Respondent appealed to the Commission and secured a reversal in favor of the Respondent on the issues of accident and causation. The Commission gave greater weight to the IME doctor’s opinion, reasoning that the IME doctor had reviewed a video job analysis, ergonomic report, and written job description, in addition to consideration of the claimant’s self-report of her work duties. In contrast, the treating doctor’s notes generically indicated that claimant’s injury was a workers’ compensation injury and that the claimant worked for the Respondent as an Executive Secretary. In weighing credibility of the doctors, the Commission found the treating doctor’s opinion to be “baseless.” The Commission ordered the claimant’s claim for compensation was denied.

The claimant did not file for Review in the Circuit Court, so the Commission decision was entered as the final decision of the Commission.

This case highlights the importance in repetitive trauma claims of ensuring that the IME doctor is able to review as much evidence as possible regarding the claimant’s job duties. Securing evidence such as a video job analysis and ergonomic report for the IME doctor’s review can make all the difference in securing a win for the employer.

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