Average Settlement for Shoulder Injury Car Accident | Everything Victims Need to Know
Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Car accident injuries often range from minor to severe. While other injuries such as spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, broken bones, and injury to internal organs are all taken seriously by lawyers and personal injury attorneys, shoulder injuries are often brushed over.
A shoulder injury may appear unusual compared to the other injuries that commonly occur in a car accident. Although shoulder injuries are more common in car accidents than one might expect, insurance companies often attempt to dismiss or decrease the value of these claims.
The reality is that the shoulder is a vital and frequently used portion of the body, and impairments of this area of the body can make daily living much more challenging. These injuries can range from rotator cuff injuries to separated or dislocated shoulders.
Those who have fallen victim to a car accident caused by carelessness, reckless, or negligence on another's part should contact Keating Law Firm today to seek compensation for their damages. Skilled attorneys with years of experience dealing with rotator cuff injury claims can help victims get the maximum shoulder injury settlement.
How Shoulder Injuries Affect Settlements
To properly understand the workings of a shoulder injury case, it is essential first to understand how the shoulder joint works. Shoulder injuries tend to heal slowly, which often lowers the settlement value.
The Glenohumeral Joint
The shoulder joint is technically known as the glenohumeral joint and is one of the most dynamic joints in the human body. It connects the glenoid or the shoulder socket to the humerus, which is the large bone of the upper arm and allows people to move their shoulder backward and forward. Additionally, it enables the arm to move upwards in a circular motion.
What Is a Rotator Cuff?
The term "rotator cuff" refers to a bundle of tendons and muscles that allows movement of the shoulder and arm by holding the shoulder joint in position. When a component of the rotator cuff becomes inflamed or injured, it can cause serious problems with the movement of the arm. Shoulder pain, inflammation, weakness, and a decreased range of motion are possible outcomes.
A Rotator Cuff Injury May Require Surgery
Numerous sorts of injuries may demand arthroscopic shoulder surgery, in which a physician fixes the shoulder by inserting a lens and tools through many tiny cuts made in the joint. These surgeries can be costly and require physical therapy before the victim can feel any improvement or regain the use of his or her shoulder joint again.
Common Shoulder Injuries That Occur in Car Accidents
The shoulder joint can be injured in several ways, and the type of injury usually determines the amount of compensation that a victim can receive. Additionally, the time it takes for the victim to recover and the amount of medical care and physical therapy they will need also influence settlements. Here are some of the most common shoulder injuries that occur in car accidents.
1. A Torn Rotator Cuff
As mentioned previously, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that facilitate the movement of the joint. When muscles or tendons in this region are severely injured or torn, the muscles no longer attach to the shoulder, which reduces movement in the joint and causes pain and inflammation. This is referred to as a rotator cuff tear. Torn rotator cuff injuries often require treatment in the form of arthroscopic tendon repair.
Understanding a Rotator Cuff Injury
A rotator cuff injury is one of the most common shoulder injuries that occur in a car accident. Because a torn rotator cuff can result from repetitive strain, insurance companies often argue that a complainant's injuries are not a direct result of the car accident.
A Rotator Cuff Injury Is More Common in Rear-end Collisions
Additionally, a rotator cuff injury is more commonly seen in a rear-end car accident. In the majority of rear-end accidents, the driver is seen gazing into the rear-view mirror just before being struck. This typically results in the driver becoming tense in an attempt to brace him or herself for the crash.
When a car strikes from the rear, the tension in the body can help to absorb a lot of the force, so it effectively protects the internal organs. However, because the arms and shoulders take a lot more of the force, this stress also leads to a torn rotator cuff.
Symptoms of a Rotator Cuff Injury
Symptoms of a rotator cuff injury or a rotator cuff tear include:
Pain on the upper or outer part of the shoulder that comes on suddenly and is intense
A throbbing arm
The range of motion is restricted
Swelling of the shoulders
Having trouble sleeping due to shoulder pressure
Weakness in the joint
Hearing a clicking or popping sound when moving the arm
2. Dislocated Shoulder Injury
This is an injury where the upper arm bone is forced out of the glenohumeral joint. In some cases, the entire joint may move out of place. The joint must first be restored to its proper location and often requires several weeks of rest and physical therapy to recover fully.
A significant displacement may demand surgery. This type of injury can cause medical bills to pile up, which is why it is essential to contact a personal injury lawyer from Keating Law Firm to pursue legal action against the person at fault to help victims cover these expenses.
3. Tear of Cartilage in the Shoulder Joint
The labrum is the cartilaginous part of the glenohumeral joint. This cartilaginous structure attaches to the border of the shoulder girdle and serves to hold the joint's ball in position. It can be torn in several ways.
Firstly, it may be torn straight off the bone. Secondly, it could be torn inside or along the labrum's border, and thirdly, a tear may occur where the bicep tendon connects. Rest, over-the-counter medicines and physical therapy are commonly used to treat these injuries.
A bursa sac on the body is inflamed or irritated in this condition. Bursa sacs are joint-cushioning fluid-filled pads that prevent damage to the joint caused by friction. One major symptom of this shoulder injury is shoulder pain. Rest, cold therapy, and pain relievers are the most common treatment options for bursitis.
When ligaments found between the collarbone or clavicle and a portion of the shoulder blade (known as the acromion) tear, it results in a separated shoulder. It loosens the attachment between the shoulder blade and the collarbone, allowing them to detach or move apart.
Victims of a separated shoulder injury often require a sling to keep the joint in place. They are also required to use pain medication and cold therapy to treat the injury. Once the joint has healed, physical therapy is often recommended.
6. Shoulder Impingement
Impingement is a shoulder injury that occurs when a tendon rubs against the shoulder blade. Symptoms include shoulder pain and weakness of the shoulder. Rest, pain killers, and physical therapy are the most effective therapies for shoulder impingement.
7. Soft Tissue Damage
If the shoulders' tendons, muscles, and ligaments are subjected to stress, soft tissue injury ensues. Soft tissues such as muscles can collide with hard surfaces during a collision, which can result in burst blood vessels.
Contusions or severe bruising around the shoulder and collarbone are common signs of ruptured blood vessels in the shoulder. Many other soft tissue injuries are not so easily distinguished and may require imaging to identify and cure.
Diagnostic testing is also required for other soft tissue injuries, such as a shoulder strain. This typically involves the tearing of tendons and muscles. A sprain, which involves the damage or tearing of the ligaments in the joint, is another possible outcome.
There are three bones in the shoulder: the scapula, humerus, and clavicle, and when these bones are broken either partially or entirely, it is called a bone fracture. A hairline fracture is a very thin break in the bone, while a complete fracture refers to more severe damage to the bone.
Both types of shoulder fractures are usually visible right after an accident. Sharp pain, paralysis, lack of movement in the shoulder, and inflammation or discoloration at the site of the injury are all signs of a shoulder fracture.
Whiplash involves neck and head trauma caused by fast movement during a collision. The force of contact in an auto accident, notably a rear-end crash, pushes the upper half of the body forward and jerks it backward, straining and ripping soft tissues.
Because many soft tissues in the neck attach to components in the shoulder, shoulder pain is a typical sign of whiplash. Headaches, stiffness, loss of movement, neck pain, and muscular spasms are other indications of whiplash.
Proving Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Even if the facts of a case appear to be uncomplicated, plaintiffs will still need to establish a clear case of negligence to receive compensation following a car accident. It all boils down to what can be proved, so the validity of the proof is critical to the success of any personal injury case. Four elements must first be proved to hold a driver liable for negligent behavior, which leads to rotator cuff or shoulder injuries
Duty of Care. One of the first elements that must be proved is that the defendant had a responsibility to drive in a way that did not endanger the plaintiff. This element is not difficult to prove in car accident cases since all drivers have a responsibility to keep others safe while on the road
Breach of Duty. Next, a plaintiff must prove that the other driver did not perform this duty of care. This involves proving that another person in similar circumstances would have acted differently
Causation. The complainant must also prove that this breach of duty is what caused the accident that led to the rotator cuff injury
Resultant Damages. Finally, victims must be able to prove that the injuries and financial damages they suffered were the direct result of the accident and not due to preexisting conditions
Without the right lawyer, these elements can be difficult to prove, particularly in the case of shoulder injuries, as strain to the joint over time could cause these injuries to occur. This is why it is essential to seek the guidance of a professional lawyer to get the highest possible personal injury settlement.
What Settlement Amount Can Victims Expect for Shoulder Injuries?
The truth is that victims do not hire a personal injury attorney to help them heal but to help them obtain compensation for the damages they suffered. Because of the nature of shoulder injuries, medical bills can quickly pile up, as these injuries often require regular checkups.
They can also render victims unable to work, which can have devastating financial repercussions for the victim and his or her family. This is why seeking compensation is so important following a car accident, but what can victims expect to receive in the way of compensation?
The average award for a shoulder injury is around $100,000. However, cases involving shoulder injuries commonly settle for significantly less. This is because these claims are often undervalued by insurance companies and even personal injury attorneys. The reason for this is a lack of consideration of the challenges that are specific to shoulder or rotator cuff injuries.
A torn labrum is a common injury that occurs because of car accidents. Repetitive stress causes a labral tear, which is more prevalent in workers' compensation claims.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Shoulder Injury Case?
The reality is that no two shoulder injury cases are the same. While injuries may be different, the facts surrounding each case are different. Below are some of the factors that vary in shoulder injury cases.
A personal injury attorney must take these factors into consideration when preparing a shoulder injury claim. Car accident victims can talk to an experienced Nashville auto accident attorney from Keating Law Firm to discuss how these factors affect their unique case.
The degree of negligence demonstrated by the other driver affects the value of a settlement. An example would be getting the average settlement for a rear-end car accident. If a victim can show that the other driver was acting carelessly or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the compensation amount may increase greatly. However, if the complainant was also partially at fault, this can decrease the amount they can receive in a settlement.
2. Medical Bills
Medical bills are one of the most important aspects of any damage case. The more money a plaintiff spends on medical bills, the greater the likelihood that they have suffered more severe shoulder injuries.
Past and future healthcare expenses related to the car accident, such as emergency room visits, prescriptions, and doctor's appointments linked to shoulder injuries, should be included in the compensation.
3. Loss of Income
The shoulder is an important part of the human body because it allows for the movement of the arms, enabling people to lift heavy objects. Injuries such as a torn rotator cuff often require weeks of rest.
Because most people cannot afford to miss days at work, financial strain often ensues following a car accident. Those who are suffering damages and financial strain because of the negligence of another should hold that person liable. The number of days or weeks that the plaintiff has been unable to return to work often determines how much compensation they may claim for lost wages.
4. Pain and Suffering
A court may award recompense for the pain and suffering that victims experienced as well as other accident-related consequences, such as emotional distress. Pain and suffering forms part of damages commonly referred to as non-economic damages. These damages are not determined the way that economic damages such as medical costs are.
This is why it is crucial to contact a reliable personal injury law firm when filing shoulder injury claims. An attorney from Keating Law Firm can help victims obtain the maximum compensation for their injuries, including compensation for damages like pain and suffering.
What Is the Likelihood of Receiving a Settlement in a Shoulder Injury Case?
The possibility that the accused will be found guilty at trial is another important consideration in determining the value of a case. If the claimant has almost no evidence that the accused is to blame for the shoulder injury sustained by the complainant, the case's value plummets.
In this case, even if the prospective damages are considerable, a defendant will be less reluctant to reach an average settlement for a soft tissue injury car accident and more likely to allow the case to go to trial. Similarly, in cases where liability is disputed, the claimant is more likely to accept an unfair settlement offer instead of risking losing the case at trial.
This Is Where a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Before making a personal injury claim, victims or shoulder injuries are encouraged to seek legal counsel from a law firm that has experience in dealing with shoulder injury cases. The professional lawyers at Keating Law Firm have dealt with hundreds of rotator cuff tear cases and other shoulder injury cases, having successfully obtained settlements for victims.
It is important to engage an experienced attorney because insurance companies can often try to get away with paying low shoulder injury settlement amounts.
They try to blame victims for their injuries being unrelated to the accident or just discrediting the severity of the injury in general. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will stand by a victim's side, ensuring that their shoulder injury claim is taken seriously.
How Long Does It Take for Shoulder Injuries to Heal?
Recovery is influenced by a number of things. The average time it takes for complete healing depends on how soon after the accident the injured party received treatment, the severity of the injury, the location of the rotator cuff tear, among others.
During surgery, the tendon is usually reattached to the upper arm bone to fix rotator cuff tears. A serious injury may require tendon stitching, whereas a partial tear may just require a debridement, in which the physician eliminates harmful tissue to aid recovery.
If adequate measures are taken immediately after a car accident, most rotator cuff injuries will heal in six months. Even with surgery, roughly 6 out of 10 patients do not heal adequately when major injuries are involved, never regaining their full range of motion. The healing process is considerably more challenging for those over the age of 60.
Despite steroid medications and physiotherapy to help regain movement, tendonitis or bursitis of the shoulder can take anywhere between three to six months to heal completely.
Should Shoulder Injury Victims Contact a Lawyer?
Because people use their shoulders for many different activities each day, shoulder injuries are debilitating and greatly affect their quality of life.
Those who have experienced such injuries in a car accident that was caused by someone else's negligence can help their case by getting medical attention as soon as possible and contacting a lawyer from Keating Law Firm who can assist them throughout the legal process.
Attorneys can assist victims by evaluating their damages and determining whether their injuries will need ongoing medical care. They also take care of the paperwork involved when filing a claim and gather evidence in the form of medical bills, video footage from the accident scene, and witness statements.
Need a Personal Injury Attorney? Contact Keating Law Firm Today!
Dealing with a shoulder injury case can be extremely difficult, especially when dealing with shoulder injuries. However, Keating Law has top-rated attorneys that are experienced in dealing with shoulder injury cases. Here are a few reasons to choose Keating Law:
Victims get one-on-one attention
Claims are evaluated thoroughly before attorneys offer a solution
Plaintiffs get access to decades of experience in personal injury law
Case evaluations are free of charge
Those who have sustained shoulder injuries in a car accident should contact Keating Law Firm today at (866) 836-4878 for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of their case and begin the legal process to hold the responsible party liable.