Someone’s negligence may cause your shoulder injury and pain in an accident. If so, you may have a case.
The shoulder consists of many joints, tendons and muscles that let the arm move around.
Even Without An Accident, You May Have Shoulder Problems
Even without an injury to your shoulder, moving your shoulder can cause problems with instability or impingement of the bony parts or soft tissue in the shoulder.
The fact that these problems may happen just from moving, and without an accident, can lead to a decrease in full value of a shoulder injury case. The insurance company may argue that your shoulder instability or impingement was not caused from the accident.
I’m going to quickly talk about the shoulder. Then, I’ll discuss shoulder injury settlements and claims.
Anatomy of the Shoulder
The shoulder is made up of three bones:
- Scapula (shoulder blade)
- Clavicle (collarbone)
- Humerus (upper arm bone)
Guest Gets $197,500 for Humerus Fracture and Shoulder Surgery from Slip and Fall
A hotel guest got $197,500 for a fractured humerus, surgery to fix it, and a arthroscopic shoulder surgery. She slipped and fell in a bathtub.
She claimed that the fall also worsened her pre-existing shoulder injury. The hotel’s insurer said it was questionable whether the shoulder surgery was related to the fall.
Glenoid, and Rotator Cuff
The head (top) of your upper arm bone goes into a round socket in the shoulder blade. The socket is known as the glenoid.
Several tendons and muscles in your allow your arm bone to be centered in the shoulder socket. The tissues are known as the rotator cuff.
These tissues blanket the head of your humerus and join it to the shoulder blade.
Causes of Shoulder Pain
The majority of shoulder problems consist of:
- Fracture (broken bone)
- Tendon Inflammation (tendinitis or bursitis) or tear of a tendon
Occasionally, too much use of the shoulder leads to inflammation and swelling of the bursa between the rotator cuff and the area of the shoulder blade that is called the acromion.
Here is a closeup of the acromion.
This swelling is called subacrominal bursitis.
If you have bursitis, liable party’s insurance company may argue that your bursitis was due to excessive use of your shoulder, and not the accident.
Bursitis can usually happen at the time as rotator cuff tendinitis.
If you have tendinitis, the insurance company may argue that it was caused by a breaking down of the tendon that happened slowly through time. The insurance company may argue that the tendinitis wasn’t caused by the accident.
The insurance company may argue that your tendinitis:
- Was caused by excessive overhead tasks at work or sport
- a degenerative disease including recurring wear and tear or arthritis caused by your age, that lead to chronic tendinitis.
Tendon Tears Can Be Accident Related or Not
Splitting of your tendons may come from an acute (sudden) injury such as a car accident or fall.
However, tendon tears can also come from degenerative changes due to your aging, wear and tear or overuse over a long period.
Since a tendon tear doesn’t always come from an acute injury like an accident, it can make these cases tougher to prove.
Hopefully, your doctor says that your accident caused your tendon tear.
The insurance company may hire a doctor who will likely say that the accident didn’t cause the tear. Their doctor will likely say that the tendon tear was due to your advancing age, long-term overuse and wear and tear.
Tears can be partial or full, where the tendon is split into 2 parts. In most complete tears, the tendon is ripped away from its joining to the bone.
Full Tears Have a Higher Full Settlement Value
All things equal, full tears are worth more than partial tears. Rotator cuff injuries and biceps tendon injuries are some of the most typical of these injuries.
Shoulder instability happens if the head of the humerus if pushed out of the shoulder socket. It can happen from sudden injury or overuse.
Hopefully your doctor says that your shoulder instability was caused by a sudden injury. The insurance company’s orthopedic doctor will likely say that overuse, and not the accident, is the cause of your shoulder instability.
Learn about shoulder fracture (broken bone) cases.
Pain and Suffering Damages in a Shoulder Case
Tip: Let the doctor know any activities that you can no longer do, or have difficulty doing, because of your shoulder injury. The doctor’s records are a big part of your case.
Average Settlement Value of Shoulder Injury Depends on Type of Injury
As you’ve seen, there are many different types of shoulder injuries. Each injury has a different value for the pain and suffering component of the case.
Thus, it’s difficult to say how much a “shoulder injury” is worth without knowing the specific facts of the case.
Other Factors Affecting Shoulder Injury cases
- Amount of property damage (particularly true in auto accidents) to the vehicles involved.
- How soon you complained of shoulder pain to a doctor after the accident.
Scooter Rider Gets $52,000 for Shoulder Pain and other injuries
The crash happened in North Miami Beach, Florida. Crawford & Company handled the claim for the company that owned the pickup truck.
Broadspire is Crawford’s global Third-Party Administration (TPA) division.
I represented the scooter rider. We settled for $52,000. My client’s eye injury was his worst injury.
Lady Gets $30,000 Settlement for Shoulder Pain and Other Injuries
Her shoulder pain wasn’t her biggest injury though. USAA insured the at fault driver.
USAA paid $30,000 to settle the case.
Passenger Gets $25,000 for Shoulder Labrum Tear and Other Injuries
See a case where a passenger got $25,000 after a car rear ended him in Key Largo. He claimed a herniated disc, shoulder labrum tear, finger and knee Injury.
Driver Settles Claim for $21,000 for Shoulder Pain and Soft Tissue Injuries
20 days later, a nurse practitioner examined him and said that pain was extending into his left shoulder.
He also claimed that the accident caused or aggravated other soft tissue injuries. The crash happened in Coconut Grove, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Driver Gets $20,000 for Shoulder Pain and Other Injuries from Truck Crash
He claimed that the accident caused soft tissue injuries to his shoulder and neck, and a concussion. He also claimed that he lost sensation in his fingertip.
Shopper Wins $1.5 Million for Pain and Suffering for Shoulder Surgery
Jessie Bellaiche slipped and fell at a Publix Supermarket in August 2010. She suffered multiple-bone fracture of her left shoulder, including the complete dislocation and severing of the humeral head, as well as the detachment of her rotator cuff.
Jessie, a 70-year old woman, underwent major surgery to implant an artificial shoulder joint. The result of the surgery was poor. She was left with only limited movement of her arm which could only be fixed with a second major surgery.
Bellaiche refused to undergo a second surgery. Her attorney offered to settle with Publix for $126,000.00. Publix didn’t accept the offer.
On November 20, 2015, a jury returned a verdict for Bellaiche and awarded her over $1.5 million in damages.
Want to know the best part?
The jury didn’t put any fault on the shopper for her fall.
The breakdown was:
- past medical bills leading up to trial ($60,356.22)
- pain and suffering from the date of her accident to the end of trial ($500,000), and
- future pain and suffering ($1,000,000)
Bellaiche’s future life expectancy at the time was 12.9 years.
The bad news for the injured shopper?
On March 18, 2018, Miami-Dade County’s appeals court said that Publix wasn’t aware that there was water on the floor before the shopper’s fall. Without notice, they said Publix should have been entitled to have the case dismissed before a jury verdict.
Thus, the appeals court ruled in favor of Publix. The shopper gets no compensation. The case is Jessie Bellaiche v. Publix (3rd DCA Florida 2018).
You May Be Still Be Able To Settle Shoulder Injury Cases That Have Issues
I’ve been able to settle shoulder injury claims even though the case had some “issues.”
The bottom line is that every case is different. Even though you may have several things that work against you in a case, your case still may be worth a lot of money.
Using an Online Settlement Calculator to Calculate the Value of a Shoulder Injury Case
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.
Can You Get Pain and Suffering Damages in a Florida Car or Truck Crash?
Someone’s carelessness may cause your shoulder injury in a Florida car or truck accident. But you do not automatically get money for pain and suffering.
Many Florida car or truck crash cases require that the injured person meet the tort threshold in order to get even one penny for pain and suffering.
A threshold injury usually consists of a permanent injury. This is true in shoulder tear cases. In the case of shoulder surgery, significant and permanent scarring may satisfy the tort threshold.
Not every Florida vehicular accident case requires that you meet the tort threshold, so you must understand the law. Do not expect the adjuster to explain the law to you.
Take a look at past Florida personal injury verdicts. You will see that some injuries have a history of meeting the tort threshold. Other injuries do not.
If you have a shoulder tear, you have a higher chance of meeting the tort threshold than shoulder pain alone.
If you have shoulder surgery, then you have an even higher chance of meeting the tort threshold than a shoulder tear without surgery.
Should you hire a lawyer if someone’s carelessness caused your shoulder injury in Florida?
A good way to know whether to hire a Florida attorney is to see if you know the purpose behind every question on this detailed twenty-one page personal injury questionnaire.
There are over 11 reasons to hire a Florida accident lawyer if someone’s carelessness caused your shoulder injury.
Did a driver’s carelessness cause your shoulder injury in an accident in Florida? Did you suffer another injury or another type of accident?
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.