Before I talk about the value of a case if someone’s carelessness caused a shoulder injury and rotator cuff tear to another in a Florida accident, I want to briefly go over the anatomy of the shoulder.
Anatomy of the Shoulder
The shoulder is made up of three bones:
- Scapula (shoulder blade)
- Clavicle (collarbone)
- Humerus (arm bone)
The soft tissues (ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsule) join those bones together and allow the arm to function.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three joints:
- Glenohumeral joint
- Acromioclavicular (AC) joint
- Sternoclavicular joint
The bones and joints of the shoulder can be seen below:
What is the Rotator Cuff?
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that keep the shoulder steady. The four muscles of the rotator cuff are the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor, and the Subscapularis.
The supraspinatus can be seen below:
What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
A rotator cuff tear occurs when one of the tendons is torn from overuse or injury. A rotator cuff tear weakens the shoulder, which makes it harder or more painful to engage in your activities of daily living, such as putting on your clothes, brushing your hair and more.
As it becomes painful and more difficult to engage in your activities of daily living, the full value of the pain and suffering component increases in a Florida accident case. Pain and suffering is one type of damages that may be awarded in a Florida injury case. Another type of damage is are economic damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, etc.).
You may want to know how much your case is worth if someone’s negligence in Florida – or cruise or boat – caused your rotator cuff tear and possibly surgery. In order to know how much your case may be worth, you need to know the full value of your damages. The full value of a Florida injury case is general made up of pain and suffering, out of pocket medical bills and lost wages.
If the claimant is allowed to make a claim for punitive damages, it can significantly drive up the value of a Florida injury case. Punitive damage claims are in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damage claims are allowed in limited circumstances.
Florida DUI crash cases
If drunk driver causes your injury in a Florida car or truck crash, you may have a punitive damage claim as well. There are many reasons why Florida DUI crash victims should attend the criminal trial.
Negligent Driver was Using Cell Phone
Some Florida courts have allowed an injured person to make a punitive damage claim if the careless driver was on a cell phone at the time of the crash and caused your injury. For example, if a witness testifies that the negligent driver was operating a large truck (e.g. a 60,000 pound dump truck, etc.) and talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash in Florida, the claimant may be allowed to present a punitive damage claim.
In Florida, if the other driver turns a huge truck into the claimant’s right of way and causes injury, the court may allow the jury to decide whether punitive damages should be granted.
Once you know the full value, then you can start to adjust it by more than 51 important factors that affect a possible Florida injury settlement.
Make sure that you understand that more than 51 factors that can affect a shoulder injury case value.
Cause of Rotator Cuff Tear and How it Affects Your Injury Case
The two causes that make up the majority of rotator cuff tears: injury and degeneration.
If you fall down on your outstretched arm or lift something that weighs too much and make a jerking movement, you can tear your rotator cuff. Assuming that someone’s carelessness caused your fall, the strongest case is when an orthopedic doctor states that the person’s fall or other type of accident caused him or her to tear their rotator cuff.
Fall Down Cases
If someone’s carelessness caused your to fall down and suffer a rotator cuff tear in Florida, you may have a case to get your damages (e.g. medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, etc.). Your treating orthopedic doctor may say that one of the types of falls below caused your rotator cuff tear:
Slip and Falls
- Slipping on a product that fell to the floor in a store, supermarket or other premises.
- Fall due to being unable to see the floor because you were in a crowd or were distracted.
- Fall in a pothole.
- Fall on a change of elevation that was greater than a quarter of an inch.
- Fall on an entryway to a premises that didn’t have a slip resistant surface that is uniform throughout the walking surface.
- Fall in a parking lot.
- Slipping on a surface that didn’t have slip resistant paint, even if the surface is painted yellow.
- Fall due to inadequate lighting or no lighting.
- Fall off stairs that don’t have a handrail (or the proper one) and/or the dimensions of the stairs aren’t built according to the requirements.
- Fall off stairs that weren’t repaired correctly or maintained properly and that gave way, or a railing that broke or came loose.
- Slip and fall in a hotel bathtubs or other bathtub somewhere else.
- Slip and fall on a liquid, water, grease, fruit or another substance on the floor of a restaurant, store, supermarket, hotel, condominium complex, etc.
- Slip and fall on liquid near a self-serve drink fountain without a mat in a restaurant.
- Fall due to an improper angle of a ramp.
- Slip and fall on a floor without a nonskid surface.
- Slip and fall due to a cleaning service leaving a slippery floor in your place of employment.
- Slipped and fell on algae at a theme park such as Disney, a hotel or somewhere else.
- Slip and fall at a hotel or other premises due to a broken or improperly maintained sprinkler that sprayed water onto a sidewalk or walkway, whether an uncovered sidewalk or an exterior covered sidewalk.
- Slip and fall on a platform that disengages and slides
Trip and Falls
- Fall due to level changes that were not marked.
- Trip and fall over a pipe that was protruding (sticking out) located in the street.
- Trip and fall on a floor mat that was turned over in a supermarket, store or other premises.
- Trip and fall in a hole in the grass.
- Trip and fall on a rod sticking out of the ground.
- Fall on a pallet in a store that you did not see because you were looking at merchandise.
- Trip on a cord that was not secured to the ground at a supermarket, store, hotel, restaurant or other establishment.
Misstep and Fall
- Fall due to a change in elevation
- Fall in a depression in the ground
- Fall off an unstable chair that collapses at a restaurant, hotel or other premises collapses.
- Fall off a loose booth that tips up and sends a guest to the floor at a restaurant or other premises.
Most rotator cuff tears happen due to the tendon being worn out, which happens slowly over time. The injured person’s doctor is therefore a key witness in a rotator cuff case.
If the doctor says that the rotator cuff tear was acute, this would tend to increase the full value of the case because the doctor is saying that the accident caused the tear.
If the treating orthopedic doctor says that it is a degenerative tear, this would decrease the full value of the case; however you may still be entitled to receive compensation for an aggravation of a pre-existing rotator cuff tear.
If the injured person files a lawsuit against the negligent party, the latter will have a chance to have a doctor of their choosing examine the claimant. This doctor will often say that the tear was degenerative.
What Factors Contribute to degenerative or chronic rotator cuff tears?
Repetitive Stress. If someone does the same shoulder motions over and over, it can stress the rotator tendons and muscles. Some sports activities can increase the likelihood that you have an overuse tear, which decreases the value of a case. Some examples of sports such as rowing, weightlifting, tennis and baseball can make you at risk for a tear. There are also other jobs and routine activities that can cause overuse tears.
Claims Adjuster is Not Your Friend
The claims adjuster is not your friend. He or she is an insurance company employee who has been hired to minimize the liability, causation and damage aspects of your personal injury claim. He or she also is hired to increase the comparative fault aspect of your case. Some adjusters are honest. They are supposed to be. Some are conservative in their valuation of an injury claim.
Others are not moral or lacking in some morals. They will say whatever they have to in order to save the insurance company money. But ultimately, every adjuster’s goal is to save the insurance company money. So present the strongest possible case.
You Are Not Smarter Than the Claims Adjuster
You may be rocket scientist, brain surgeon, top-notch computer programmer or brilliant lawyer. But unless you have handled hundreds of injury claims, an adjuster will run circles around you every day of the week. Worst of all, you will not even know that it is happening. I say this based on my experience of representing hundreds of injured people who have made the mistake of giving a statement to the adjuster before contacting me.
My Florida Shoulder Injury Settlements
My Actual Case: $210,000 Settlement for a Florida male tractor-trailer driver who claimed a shoulder joint tear (glenoid labrum tear) after another tractor-trailer (18 wheeler) rear ended his truck. All the settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
A picture of the vehicle whose driver was cited for careless driving is below.
The treating doctor told us that he did not see a tear, and he only saw fraying. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair the fray in his shoulder.
The other driver who received a ticket for careless driving. The other driver was under dispatch by a trucking company based in Jacksonville, Florida who had a self-insured retention (SIR) of $250,000. Broadspire adjusted the claim.
The other trucking company was insured with Travelers Insurance above the self-insured retention (SIR). We also received a $10,000 settlement check from my client’s auto insurer – Progressive – who provided uninsured motorist coverage.
The claims adjuster for the trucking company sent my client’s medical records to an orthopedic surgeon, who stated that this injury was caused from overuse prior to since my client would often have to lift heavy objects as part of his job.
Tip: Always check and see if the defense doctor talks about rotator cuff tears on his or her website. There may be statements that can help your case. The injured person should immediately present these statements to the liability claims adjuster.
I argued that the heavy impact caused the acute tear.
My case: $147,000 Settlement for a woman who had shoulder surgery following a car accident in Bonifay, North Florida. My client lived in Virginia. The shoulder surgery was unsuccessful so she later underwent a manipulation under anesthesia (MUA). A picture of the damage to the car that my client was a passenger in is below.
I settled a rotator cuff tear surgery case for $147,000 where a car crashed into a car within which my client was a passenger. She was a nurse practitioner. The adjuster argued that my client’s tear was degenerative and caused by her job, which involved lifting patients to and from a bed or chair. I argued that the heavy impact caused the acute tear.
Other factors that contribute to chronic, or degenerative rotator, cuff tears are lack of blood of supply or bone spurs. Both of these factors may decrease the full value of the case.
Review Your Medical Records Prior to Accident
You should review all of your prior medical records and look for the lack of treatment, lack of complaints, and lack of symptoms that usually accompany a rotator cuff tear. Point these out to the claims adjuster.
Doctor May Say That Accident Caused Rotator Cuff Tear But it is Healed
Sometimes a defense doctor, or even a treating doctor, will say that the rotator cuff tear was caused by the car crash or other accident but it has completely healed. I settled a labrum tear surgery case for $210,000, where the treating workers compensation surgeon said that the shoulder pain should have resolved within four to six weeks after the truck crash. The doctor therefore claimed that my client’s shoulder was healed and the pain was not related to the accident.
Check Post-Incident Records for Continued Problems
The injured person should check all of the medical records including, but not limited to, physical therapy records which state that there is a limited range of motion, lack of strength or pain. Point these out to the claims adjuster immediately.
Physical therapists often will spend much more time than the doctor with the injured person. Physical therapist’s notes are often much more detailed, particularly as to limitation of motion, lack of strength and complaints of pain.
Even if your shoulder tear existed before an incident or accident, in Florida you are still entitled to get damages for an aggravation of a shoulder tear or other pre-existing injury.
Younger Injured Victims May Have an Easier Time Proving Acute Tear
If you are young and you are diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear after an accident, you have a strong argument that an incident or accident caused the tear. For example, if you are 15 years old and you have rotator cuff surgery following an accident then it generally will be tough for a claims adjuster to make the argument that you had this tear before the incident or accident.
If you are older, your case may be tougher because a shoulder tear may come with age and repetitive use. This is especially true if you worked in the construction or a similar field which required hard use of your shoulder.
Sometimes the radiologist will say in his report that the tear “may” have been related to a motor vehicle accident or other incident. A doctor who looks the MRI may say that you have a pre-existing rotator cuff tear based on calcification, which may lower the value of your case.
2. Shoulder Injuries From Work Accidents
This article applies if you have a personal injury case. Some of this article (where I talk about the settlement value of a shoulder injury) does not apply if you only have a workers compensation claim. It does apply if you are hurt while working and you also have a personal injury claim.
If you are injured by working, I generally suggest that you treat through workers compensation instead of using Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance or asking the doctors to treat you on a letter of protection. I recommend using your PIP benefits to pay off the workers compensation lien at the end of the injury case.
A letter of protection is when a doctor or other medical provider agrees to give you treatment without asking for money up front, so long as you agree to pay them when your personal injury case settles.
If you do not treat with workers compensation, then the workers compensation insurer may later deny treatment by saying that you failed to follow the workers compensation rules.
Advantage of Getting Workers compensation benefits for your Shoulder (Rotator Cuff Tear, Labral Tear) Surgery
If you were injured while working, one of the advantages is that you may get benefits from your employer or their insurer.
Disadvantage of Using Workers Compensation Insurance for your Shoulder Surgery Case.
The biggest disadvantage to using workers compensation insurance is that a doctor who is paid by a workers compensation insurer may say that shoulder tear was old and unrelated to the accident than a doctor who is a patient advocate. An orthopedic doctor who treats shoulders and is more “patient friendly” is more likely to relate your surgery to the accident.
This is because the doctor being paid by the workers compensation insurer:
a. Knows that if he doesn’t relate the injury to the accident or minimizes your injury then the workers compensation insurer will send him more patients.
b. May be believed by the jury if he or she says that he did not see a tear when he operated on you.
Example of Settlement for a Shoulder Surgery Case if you were working but someone Other than your Employer caused your Accident
Let’s assume that you are working for a company in Florida. Perhaps you are a truck driver. While you are driving your company’s truck you were rear ended by another 18 wheeler. The other truck driver receives a ticket. You report the accident to your employer but you don’t go to the hospital because the pain is not bad enough.
A few days later you decide to go to your primary doctor because your shoulder pain has not gone away. You give that doctor your health insurance information.
You then receive a call from the workers compensation insurer for your employer. They refer you to a medical facility where you receive treatment. A month later you receive an MRI and the report says that you have a torn labrum tear, but the radiologist is unable to tell whether the tear if from the accident. A labral tear basically means that a ligament in your shoulder is torn.
Your doctor – who you were referred to by your employer – continues to treat you. He then says that he will perform shoulder surgery on you if you would like. You choose to have shoulder surgery. You then receive a little more treatment and the doctor tells you that you are as good as you are going to get. The doctor then says that you have a permanent impairment of 2%.
Let’s assume that workers’ compensation gives you benefits. How much your case is worth against the driver that hit you? The formula to figure this out is:
Injury Settlement = (Medical bills and lost wage paid by workers’ comp.) + Pain and Suffering + (Lost wages not paid by Workers Comp)
3. Settlement Value of Shoulder Injury (Rotator Cuff or Other)
a. How Much is the Average Settlement for Rotator Cuff Tear Caused by Someone’s Negligence in Florida?
This question is the similar to asking, “How Much Does a House Cost in Florida?” There are some rural places in Florida where one (1) acre of land costs $10,000, and there are some places in Miami Beach where an acre of land may cost $50 Million dollars. The rural land may be on top of a sinkhole, or have pipe issues and termites in the house, making the house basically worth nothing.
If someone’s carelessness caused a rotator cuff tear to another in a Florida accident, the answer is similar to the answer I gave above regarding the house.
On one hand, if a careless driver in Florida causes Lebron James to suffer a rotator cuff, it could be worth hundreds of millions if he can never play basketball again. Lebron makes about $72 million a year. If he could not play for the next ten (10) years, his lost wages and loss of earning capacity alone could be about $720 Million.
Sometimes Need Threshold Injury to Recover Pain and Suffering Damages
Then we would assign money for pain and suffering assuming that we could prove he has a threshold injury if he was in a Florida motor vehicle accident that required a finding of permanency.
On the other hand, there is Joe Blow who makes $500 a week and misses four (4) weeks because of the Florida car accident. He heals pretty well and he is back to work. His lost earnings may be $2,000 or so if he misses four (4) weeks of work. Assume Joe treated for years for shoulder pain before the crash but never had an MRI. Now, an MRI shows that he has rotator cuff tear.
The bodily injury liability adjuster will argue that Joe’s rotator cuff tear is a pre-existing injury, and that Joe should only be awarded damages that flow from an aggravation of the prior rotator cuff tear. Let’s also say that Joe was 50% or more at fault in the accident. The settlement value would then be sliced down more.
Let’s say Joe’s car and the careless driver’s vehicle show no damage. The settlement value may further be reduced. Let us say Joe owned a car in Florida that was required to have PIP but he was driving without insurance. The value goes down even more.
You can see why it is impossible to say what the average rotator cuff tear is worth in a Florida injury case. Florida does not use a table that states that a rotator cuff tear is worth a certain amount. I have settled torn rotator cuff cases from $10,000 (where there was limited insurance) all the way up to $210,000. It just depends on the facts of the particular case.
All of settlements in this article are below are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
Now, the good news is that based on past Florida jury verdicts we can gather all possible data to see what past juries have awarded for rotator cuff tears in Florida accidents.
b. Pain and Suffering Value of Rotator Cuff Tear Without Surgery
The full value of the pain and suffering component for settlement purposes in Florida of a rotator cuff tear is between $40,000 and $70,000, and possibly higher depending on resultant disability. The lower end of the range is for minimal treatment and little limitation. The higher end of the settlement range is for a longer period of treatment – such as one year or more – and a greater disability.
c. Where Surgery is performed
For a starting point, the settlement range for pain and suffering on a torn rotator cuff where surgery is performed is between $100,000 and $175,000. The low-end of the range is if you had little treatment, are left with limitations and disability after the surgery.
The higher end of the range is for longer treatment (over a year or more), when you left with a larger resultant disability, and your life has significantly been affected.
Below is a diagram of a full thickness rotator cuff tear with subsequent surgery.
Credit: Nucleus Communications.
Without surgery, the full value for pain and suffering is generally less for purposes of settlement. A lot of this article also does not apply to workers’ compensation cases in Florida, as you can generally not get pain and suffering in those cases unless you also have a claim against someone other than your employer. But I do discuss settlements where you were injured while working and someone other than your employer was at fault.
4. How medical documentation and/or testimony affects your case.
You should provide your medical bills, records & diagnostic studies (e.g. MRI cd, CT scan, etc.) to an insurer as soon as possible. Often times the liability insurer will hire a radiologist to review all of your medical records that are in any way related to your claimed rotator cuff tear.
The defense radiologist may say that your injury existed before the incident. You want to make sure that you carefully select your orthopedic doctor. Otherwise you may wind up with a doctor who does not want to help your case and may not be a patient advocate.
Even if the radiologist and treating orthopedic doctor say that they cannot determine the age of your shoulder tear, you still have the right to get a second opinion with a doctor of your choice. This doctor may feel that the shoulder tear is related to the incident or accident. He will probably want to see the actual MRI films.
So how do you know how much your shoulder surgery case is worth if the doctors who treated you and reviewed the MRI have different opinions? Often times you have to cut the full value of your case by a certain percentage.
Rotator cuff tears are usually diagnosed by an MRI. An orthopedic doctor may also state that a shoulder tear cannot be caused by certain types of accidents.
5. Other factors that may affect the value of your settlement involving a shoulder injury or tear are:
- Amount of property damage (particularly true in auto accidents) to the vehicles involved.
- Whether you were taken by ambulance to the hospital from the accident scene. Some doctors may state that if an accident causes a rotator cuff tear you would feel pain immediately following the incident. Despite this, I have settled shoulder injury cases for fair value for clients who did not go to the emergency room on the date of the accident or incident.
- Whether you went to the hospital or waited to treat with a doctor.
- When you initially complained of shoulder pain.
- Whether there is liability insurance.
- The actual claims adjuster handling your case.
- Type of witness the plaintiff makes.
- Whether you exaggerated injuries at the deposition (if a lawsuit is filed).
- Whether you lie at the deposition (if a lawsuit is filed).
- The county where the case will be brought.
- Inability to prove a permanent injury in a Florida auto accident case which requires that you meet the tort threshold.
- And many other factors.
Certain Insurers and Claims adjusters Have a Reputation for Offering more than others.
Similar to any personal injury claim, one factors that may affect the amount that you may get offered to settle your shoulder (rotator cuff) injury is the particular insurance company that you are dealing with. Some insurance companies have a reputation for offering more money than others for the pain and suffering component of a rotator cuff tear.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into the value of a case. There is no guarantee that you get any money for pain and suffering.
6. Shoulder Injury (Rotator Cuff Tear) Settlements
a. Without Surgery
$18,000 Settlement (My Case): I settled a personal injury case against Publix in Miami, Florida where my client had a rotator cuff tear for $18,000. She said that she thought that she slipped on water at a Publix in Homestead, Florida. Liability was difficult in that case. My client was 58 years old and the claims adjuster from Publix argued that my client’s rotator cuff tear was from overuse and not caused by this injury.
Actual Case (not mine): $55,000 Verdict for Pain and Suffering alone for a man who suffered a herniated disc and rotator cuff tear when he slipped and fell on a Royal Caribbean gangway (walkway) when it was raining.
Actual Case (not mine): $10,000 verdict for pain and suffering for a 75-year-old female shopper who fell down in Target in Miami-Dade County, Florida who tripped over a garden hose. She broke 2 teeth, tore a shoulder (rotator cuff) and had wrist pain. $5,000 was for past pain and suffering and $5,000 was for future pain and suffering. She was walking into Target in Miami through the garden entrance and she tripped over a garden hose that was in the aisle that was used for customers to walk through this section of the store.
She claimed that the hose should not have been left in this aisle. Target argued that there was a sign next to this hose and that she saw the hose before she fell.
My thoughts: The jury awarded her $500 a year for her future pain and suffering. I arrived at this amount by using the life tables, which show her life expectancy to be 10 more years. $5,000 divided by 10 is $500 per year. This verdict for pain and suffering is way below the average settlement for pain and suffering for a torn rotator cuff (shoulder). Check out some other injury verdicts and settlements against Target in Florida.
b. My Other Shoulder Surgery Settlements
I have also settled car accident cases where my client had surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear for $65,000 (against a small Miami auto insurer) and $57,000 (with Geico and Progressive). In some of those cases, the liability claims adjuster argued that my client’s rotator cuff tear was not caused by the car or truck accident due to minimal property damage. The claims adjuster also argued that the rotator cuff tear was degenerative (old) and was due to age and overuse.
My case: $35,000 Settlement for a motorcyclist who had surgery to repair his rotator cuff (shoulder injury) after he was hit by another driver in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. The negligent driver had a $10,000 liability insurance policy with Progressive, and the adverse owner had a $25,000 bodily injury liability auto policy with State Farm.
An actual picture taken during my client’s rotator cuff surgery is below.
As you can see from the above settlements amounts, I was still able to settle claims for each client even though there case had some “issues.” The bottom line is that every case is different and even though you may have several things that work against you in a case, your case still may be worth a lot of money.
I had a torn rotator cuff settlement for a client for $18,000 who was injured at a Supermarket in Miami, Florida. My client said that she slipped and fell on water on the floor in the store. In that case, my client was significantly at fault and her injury may have been preexisting.
Other (Not Mine) Shoulder Surgery Settlements or Verdicts
$183,697 Verdict (not my case) for pain and suffering damages and additional undisclosed settlements for a shoulder sprain, multiple bruises to the left shoulder, shoulder; type 1 AC joint sprain, a partial thickness articular sided tear, a partial thickness tear of the subscapularis tendon, shoulder impingement and fraying of the superior labrum and bicep with a type 1 SLAP lesion; subsequent left shoulder arthroscopy with subacromial decompression, distal clavicle and SLAP repair, including insertion of 2 metallic screws and anchors.
Plaintiff settled at mediation with the other 3 defendants, one of which was an uninsured motorist (UM) insurance company.
The Plaintiff, a 48 year-old employee of UPS, was driving home on a highway. He claimed that the Defendant, Rodriguez, made a U-turn (where it was not allowed) and was driving 25 miles per hour below the speed limit. He said that he attempted to avoid the other vehicle and tried to avoid the crash by driving into the grass median.
His truck flew in the air and landed on its side and ended up in the opposite lane of travel. The jury determined that the truck driver was driving a company car. The verdict was in September 2011. The case is Kata vs. K.K. Car Co., Inc. and Ambassador Rent-A-Car.
My thoughts: I do not know the amounts of the other settlements. But because there were additional settlements, the award for pain and suffering is larger than the $183,697 verdict for pain and suffering mentioned above. The amount awarded for pain and suffering is above the average settlement range that I may use as a starting point for pain and suffering for a shoulder surgery.
$69,500 Verdict for Pain and Suffering for a torn rotator cuff that required surgery, neck (cervical) and back (lumbar) strains, and bruises to her arm when she slipped and fell on an unknown substance at a Publix grocery store in Broward County, Florida. She argued that Publix failed to provide a safe environment for her, negligently allowed a dangerous condition remain for an unreasonable length of time, and failed to remedy or warn of the known dangerous condition.
Publix denied liability and argued that the woman was not hurt as bad as she claimed. The jury found her to be 5% at fault. She was also awarded $44,000 for past medical expenses and $80,000 for future medical expenses. The total verdict was for $193,500. The case is Lopez v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc. 05-1465.
My thoughts: The woman who fell was awarded $69,500 for pain and suffering. Most of this money was probably for her torn rotator cuff that required surgery. This is because most juries do not award much for a simple neck and back pain or bruises. This award for pain and suffering is below the average settlement range for a torn rotator cuff with surgery.
7. Calculating Projected Total Settlement
Let’s see how the value of pain and suffering affects the possible total settlement of your accident case where you have rotator cuff surgery. You can calculate your damages in any personal injury case by using the following formula:
Settlement = Out of pocket Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain and Suffering
You are passenger in a car in Bonifay (North Florida) or any city in Florida. The car that you are riding in is struck by another car. The other car receives a ticket for causing the accident. The other car does not have bodily injury liability insurance, but you have $300,000 of uninsured motorist insurance (UM) available and the owner of the car that you are in has $100,000 UM/UIM with State Farm insurance.
You treat with doctors for 1 year or so and the doctor who sends you to get an MRI that shows that you have a rotator cuff tear. Physical therapy does not relieve you of your pain so you have surgery to repair your rotator cuff. The orthopedic doctor says that you have a permanent injury. This allows you to make a claim for pain and suffering in a car accident case in Florida.
You are still able to work at the job that you had before the accident. Your out-of-pocket medical bills are $5,000. Your health insurance company has paid $15,000 in medical bills and they may be entitled to be reimbursed. You have $2,000 in lost wages, mainly for the time that you could not work after the surgery.
Possible Settlement = Out of pocket Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain and Suffering
Because your life has been minimally affected after the surgery, taking the pain and suffering value from the lower end of the range, let’s plug in the numbers:
Possible Settlement = $20,000 + $2,000 + $100,000
Possible Settlement = $122,000
This above example was from my $147,000 settlement, which is within the settlement range that I gave above.
Let’s take the same facts as Example #1 except that you were driving the car in Miami, Florida and you were 50% because you and the other driver both say that you had a steady green light at the time of the accident. There are no witnesses. In this case you would use the formula below:
Possible Settlement = (Out of pocket Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain and Suffering) x (% Other car’s fault)
Possible settlement = ($122,000) x (50%)
Possible settlement = $61,000
As you can see, if you change one fact to the case the value is cut in half. This is one of the reasons why you should be very careful when comparing your case to your friend’s case or other cases that you read or hear about.
Example #3 – Rotator Cuff tear – No Surgery
You are 18 years old and you are riding a motorcycle in Miami-Dade County – or any county in Florida – and you are stopped at a red light. A car hits you from behind. The impact of the crash causes you to fly of the motorcycle and land on your shoulder.
An MRI reveals that you have a torn rotator cuff. The orthopedic doctor that you are treating with states that your rotator cuff tear is related to the accident. Your out-of-pocket medical bills are $6,000 and you have $500 in lost wages. Your total treatment with the orthopedic doctor is for 3 months.
To get an idea of the settlement range for your case, the formula to use is:
Possible settlement = Out of pocket medical bills + lost wages + pain and suffering
Because your treatment was rather short, and you are left with little if any disability, I will assign $40,000 (taken from the range mentioned above) for pain and suffering for settlement purposes. (Because you were on a motorcycle and you were hit by a truck (a motor vehicle), you do not need prove that you have a permanent injury in order to be entitled to money for pain and suffering.) Now I will plug-in the medical bill and lost wage figures that I gave in the example into my settlement evaluation for this case:
Possible settlement = $6,000 + $500 + $40,000
Settlement = $46,500
Now let’s take the same facts from Example #3 except that you were speeding and the other car violated your right of way. To keep it simple, let’s assume that you are 50% at fault for the accident. The formula is:
Possible settlement is= (Out of pocket medical bills + lost wages + pain and suffering) x (% fault of other driver)
Possible settlement = ($6,000 + $500 + $40,000) X (50%)
Possible settlement = ($46,500) X (50%)
Possible settlement = 23,250
As you can see from this example, changing one fact to the case cuts the value of your case in half.
Using an Online Settlement Calculator to Calculate the Value of a Shoulder Injury Case
If you someone’s carelessness causes a serious shoulder injury to another in accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat, I strongly suggest that the injured person does not value his or her case based on an online settlement calculator. There are many reasons why settlement calculators may not work for Florida injury cases. This is true whether you are looking at my Florida injury settlement calculator or one that someone else made.
Should you hire a lawyer if someone’s carelessness caused your shoulder injury in Florida?
A good way to know whether to hire an Florida attorney is to see if you know the purpose behind every question on this detailed twenty-one page personal injury questionnaire. In addition, depending on your type of case, you should know the purpose behind every question on this (9) nine page slip and fall questionnaire or five (5) page motor vehicle accident questionnaire.
There are over 11 reasons to hire a Florida accident lawyer if someone’s carelessness caused your shoulder injury.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your shoulder injury or other injury in an accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat?
See Our Settlements
Check out some of the many Florida injury cases that we have settled, including but not limited to car accidents, truck accidents, slip or trip and falls, motorcycle accidents, drunk driving (DUI) accidents, pedestrian accidents, drunk driving accidents, taxi accidents, bicycle accidents, cruise ship accidents, and much more.
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Our Miami law firm represents people injured anywhere in Florida in car accidents, truck accidents, slip, trip and falls, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, drunk driving crashes, pedestrian accidents, accidents involving a Uber or Lyft Driver, cruise ship or boat accidents and many other types of accidents.
We want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state we may also be able to represent you.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.