A shoulder injury is any type of injury to one or both of a person’s shoulders. A shoulder injury can be particularly debilitating since they often affect a person’s use of their hands and arms. They also affect a person’s ability to get good sleep at night. Shoulder injuries can also develop in connection with other head, neck, or back injuries.
Some common causes of shoulder injuries may include:
- On-the-job injuries
- Repetitive strain (such as when a worker is required to perform heavy lifting or lifting of objects above the head)
- Slip and fall accidents
- Accidents caused by another party’s negligence
- Medical malpractice (i.e., defective shoulder surgeries, misdiagnosis, etc.)
Finally, shoulder injuries may also be caused directly through criminal or civil tort acts such as assault and battery.
What Are the Types of Shoulder Injuries?
Usually, shoulder injuries involve the tendons, muscles, and ligaments at the shoulder joint, although fractures of the bones that meet at the shoulder joint may also occur.
Shoulder injuries fall into two broad medical categories. The first category is instability when one of the shoulder joints is out of alignment and causes pain when raising the arm. You may feel like your shoulder is slipping out of place. The second category is impingement when the shoulder muscles pinch against the top of the shoulder blade. Impingement injuries are typically the result of repetitive overhead arm movements.
Is It Possible to Be Compensated for Losses Caused by a Shoulder Injury?
Suppose you have a personal injury case involving a shoulder injury. In that case, you may wonder how the injury might impact the value of an injury settlement or court award you might receive. The dollar amount you end up with depends on the unique facts of your case, but there are a few common factors to consider when evaluating a shoulder injury claim.
Depending on the nature of your shoulder injury, you may recover various losses caused by a shoulder injury. In general, most persons can recover the following financial costs concerning a shoulder injury claim:
- Medical costs, such as hospital fees and prescription medication costs
- Work-related costs, such as worker’s compensation benefits
- Lost wages, if the injury caused the person to lose work hours (may also include loss of future earnings)
- Punitive damages, if the injuries were caused through criminal intent (not available for all cases)
- If available, damages associated with pain and suffering
If the injury is due to a work-related accident, the injured person may need to file a claim with a government agency to obtain relief. A person cannot file a work-related lawsuit in some states unless they first file with such an agency. You may need a lawyer to file the claim with the agency.
How Should a Shoulder Injury Case Be Evaluated?
Valuing a shoulder injury case involves coming up with a guess at what a jury would award the injured person while also considering what the person being sued would be willing to pay. Additionally, parties must consider the amount each side would be willing to agree upon in order to settle the case before going to trial.
Two factors contribute most to valuing any shoulder injury case:
- The nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and other damages
- The likelihood that a jury would find the defendant responsible for the injuries if the case were to go to trial
How Can My Damages Be Estimated?
Accurately estimating how much money a plaintiff might receive to compensate for their shoulder injury is difficult. At trial, damages will most likely be determined by a jury. The jury ultimately decides how much money the defendant owes the injured plaintiff.
Some damages, such as medical bills and lost income, are easier to predict because they are concrete. Losses like these will be based on the amount a plaintiff has paid or lost and will continue to pay or lose. More subjective damages like pain and suffering are different in every shoulder injury case. Every case and every jury is different. Pain and suffering damages may fall within a broad range.
How the shoulder injury affects a plaintiff is also important in valuing damages. For example, if the plaintiff were a young, active person who played sports and enjoyed outdoor activities before suffering a disabling shoulder injury, the damages would likely be greater than if the injury happened to a relatively physically inactive person. If a plaintiff suffered an injury that left them more susceptible to re-injury, the damages might go up, as well.
How Likely is it That the Defendant Will Be Found Liable?
The likelihood of the defendant being found liable at trial is another major factor in evaluating shoulder injury claims. If a plaintiff has little or no evidence proving the defendant was at fault for the shoulder injury, the case’s value goes down. Even if the potential damages are high, a defendant will be less willing to settle in this situation. If there is little evidence proving liability for an injury, defendants may take their chances at trial. When the fault is up in the air, the plaintiff may be more inclined to accept a low settlement offer.
You should first consult a personal injury lawyer if you’re thinking about filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit after a shoulder injury.
If your shoulder injury happened at your workplace, you might need to file a claim through your state’s worker’s compensation insurance system. Each state has different standards of compensation. If a plaintiff is not completely disabled by the injury and does not have high medical bills, the worker’s compensation settlement may not be very high. Personal injury settlements usually pay out more. If your injury occurred while you were on the job, consult with an attorney about a worker’s compensation claim.
What Type of Evidence Do I Need to File an Injury Lawsuit?
If you have suffered a shoulder injury, consider taking the following steps to make sure that you have enough evidence to satisfy a claim:
- Record all important information related to the injury or accident. These records may include dates such as when the injury occurred, as well as locations
- Obtain any testimony and information related to witnesses of the injury
- Be sure to keep and make photocopies of all medical documents related to the injury
- If your shoulder injury caused police authorities to be involved, request a copy of the related police report
- Write a detailed, step-by-step description of the shoulder injury. Be sure to describe how the injury has affected your daily life and whether you need compensation.
Some personal injury claims may require the testimony of an expert medical witness. Courts or defense counsel may request expert witness testimony to verify the extent of a shoulder injury. An attorney can help brief you on how to cooperate with expert witnesses.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Shoulder Injury Claim?
Shoulder injury claims can often be complex. They may involve several weeks or months of research and analysis. Your claim may not be processed for some while after the actual injury occurred. You may wish to work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you compile all the documents and evidence that will be used in your case.