If you have developed RSD from an occupational injury, car or motorcycle accident or other trauma, you know the misery that RSD injuries cause: intense burning pain, stiffness, swelling and discoloration caused by reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy is often referred to as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and is also sometimes called shoulder-hand syndrome, or causalgia. It is a chronic pain condition affecting one of the arms, legs, hands or feet, usually after an injury to that limb. An estimated 200,000 people in the United States experience this condition each year.
In cases in which RSD has developed due to a workplace injury, the RSD sufferer is eligible to obtain workers’ compensation for their medical expenses and lost income. If someone else’s negligence caused your RSD injuries, there may be additional compensation available through a legal claim to assist you.
Contact Disparti Law toll free at 888-711-7920 or online for a free initial consultation if you have medical bills, lost wages or other losses caused by an RSD injury that developed after a workplace accident in the Tampa area of Florida.
Is Your Pain a Symptom of RSD?
RSD is a disorder that causes overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which affects blood flow and sweat glands in the affected area. Its primary symptom is prolonged or excessive pain. Some people with RSD describe the pain as a burning or “pins and needles” sensation, or as if someone is squeezing the affected limb.
The pain may be more intense than the injury itself would be expected to produce. As the injury heals the pain does not subside. Lingering pain may be felt in the arm, finger, palm of the hand, shoulder, leg, knee or hip.
Additional symptoms common to RSD injury include:
- Changes in skin texture in the afflicted area, causing it to appear shiny and thin
- Increased skin sensitivity to touch
- Abnormal sweating pattern in the affected area
- Changes in nail and hair growth patterns
- Stiffness in affected joints
- Problems coordinating muscle movement, with decreased ability to move the affected body part
- Abnormal movement in the affected limb, such as tremors or jerking of the affected limb or abnormal posture.
Your pain may be diagnosed as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) and further described as:
- Type 1 if it occurred after an illness or injury that did not directly damage a nerve in the affected area; or
- Type 2 if it followed a distinct nerve injury. This is a condition sometimes called “causalgia.”
Your RSD Injury and Workers’ Compensation
Unfortunately, there is currently no diagnostic test to confirm RSD injury/CRPS. The diagnosis is based on the affected individual’s medical history and signs and symptoms that match the definition of RSD. This can make it difficult for a worker with RSD injuries to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits he or she deserves.
Some doctors who are less familiar with RSD injuries may have trouble making a diagnosis. The workers’ comp system can work against an employee with RSD injuries, too.
Workers’ compensation is a state-administered insurance program that just about every Florida employer must join to insure their employees. Private insurers provide coverage and, as with other insurance carriers, they tend to raise premiums charged to policyholders who cost them sizable or frequent payouts. This creates an incentive for employers to avoid workers’ comp payouts.
Another factor in the Florida workers’ compensation program is that injured workers must see a doctor selected by their employer (through the insurer, usually). This doctor diagnoses their injury and fitness to work. If the doctor has a particularly cooperative relationship with an insurer or employer trying to hold costs down, this may create a problem for a worker who has symptoms of a disorder that cannot be definitively diagnosed.
In short, a doctor assigned to your workers’ compensation case may decline to diagnose your RSD for legitimate or not-so-legitimate reasons, and your claim may be denied.
A distinguishing feature of RSD/CRPS is usually a history of earlier injury to the affected area. If your medical history shows such an injury from an accident was not connected to your job, your employer (through the doctor/insurer) could concede that your RSD exists but claim it is a preexisting condition that does not merit workers’ compensation benefits.
Don’t Let Workers’ Comp Deny Your RSD Injury Claim
Many legitimate workers’ compensation claims are initially denied. But any denied claim may be appealed, including those rejected because of the assigned doctor’s medical diagnosis.
A workers’ comp claimant must see the doctor assigned by their employer, but they are not prohibited from seeing other doctors as well. In an appeal of a claim denied due to the assigned physician’s medical diagnosis, you can introduce evidence from an additional doctor, such as a specialist more familiar with RSD/CRPS problems.
The workers’ compensation attorneys of Disparti Law Group in Tampa consult with physicians whom we can refer clients to for second opinions about their conditions. These specialists also assist us by testifying at workers’ comp hearings as to their findings.
In addition to convincing the workers’ compensation hearing examiner or judge of a proper diagnosis for you, Disparti Law Group may be able to obtain compensation through a third party whose negligence contributed to your accident. By law, you cannot sue your employer for negligence in a workplace accident, but anyone involved who is not your employer may be held liable.
For instance, if you were injured in a car accident while on the job, you would qualify for workers’ comp and could seek to hold the driver responsible for the wreck liable through a third-party personal injury claim. Subcontractors, vendors, co-workers, manufacturers and others who do not employ you may be subject to third-party claims connected to your occupational injury.
Even if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, a settlement obtained through a third-party claim could provide more compensation to assist with your RSD injury than workers’ compensation provides.
Contact Our Tampa RSD Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one has developed symptoms of RSD after a workplace accident, contact the Disparti Law Group, P.A. as soon as possible. You may find it difficult to obtain the workers’ compensation you deserve, but we can help document your accident and injuries to support your claim. Call us toll free at 888-711-7920 or fill out our online questionnaire for a free legal consultation. We only get paid for our work after you have been compensated. Please call today to ensure that you do not waive your right to benefits you deserve.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy)
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Fact Sheet
- RSDSA – Telltale Signs and Symptoms of CRPS/RSD