Hand-arm vibration syndrome is a type of occupational disease or work-related injury. It generally involves damage to the nerves, circulation, blood vessels, or muscles of the hand or arm. It can lead to a discoloration of the hand and fingers, or to a more serious physical disabling of the hand, wrist, and arm muscles.
Some common effects and symptoms associated with hand-arm vibration syndrome may include:
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Discoloration of fingers (“Vibration White Finger” or “Dead Finger”)
- Decreased range of motion of finger, hand, or arm joints
- Muscle weakness or fatigue
- Permanent loss of use of arms or hands
Symptoms may be located in the hands and fingers, radiating up to the arms and shoulders, and sometimes in the neck. Some experts also include other symptoms along with vibration syndrome, such as headache, restlessness, fatigue, and insomnia.
What Are Some Causes of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?
Hand-arm vibration, or HVS, often results from the use of high-powered, industrial hand tools that vibrate at very high frequencies. Prolonged or extended use of hand-held tools and other machinery can create the damage associated with HVS.
Some hand-arm vibration claims are also filed as workers compensation claims, especially in instances where their line of work required them to constantly use such high-frequency output tools that cause vibrations (such as construction or repair jobs). This can lead to other claims such as a lost earning capacity lawsuit. However, personal use of such tools can also result in hand-arm vibration syndrome.
Can I File a Claim for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome Injuries?
As mentioned, many hand-arm vibration claims are filed in connection with employment conditions, and therefore result in a workers compensation claim. Depending on the person’s agreement with their employer, this may or may not cover all costs such as hospital bills, medication costs, surgery, and rehab.
In some cases, a lawsuit can be filed against an employer, especially in cases where the employer was negligent in their supervision or instruction of the worker. Products liability can also be a factor, especially where a tool creates vibrations that are exceptionally dangerous. For civil lawsuits, a damages award may be required of the defendant, which will allow the plaintiff to recover losses for their HVS injuries.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Injuries such as hand-arm vibration syndrome can be very serious and may require the assistance of a professional when filing a claim. You may wish to hire an employment lawyer in your area if you need assistance filing a lawsuit in a court of law. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process, and can represent you during hearings. Also, your attorney may be able to provide legal argumentation that will help you in obtaining a damages award for your losses.