Legal Help For Victims Of Shoulder Injuries
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body. But, the shoulder’s mobility also has a downside in that it’s a rather weak joint and very easy to injure. Anyone who follows sports knows what a dreaded injury a torn rotator cuff is. A torn rotator cuff can seriously sideline and even end an athlete’s career. What is more tragic, however, is when these injuries occur outside of a game, when the victim is least suspecting it. Vehicle collisions, falls, bike accidents, and even dog attacks can all result in a torn rotator cuff.
Fortunately, new surgical developments now allow complex joints like shoulders and knees to be rebuilt in many cases. However, these surgeries are expensive and require extensive physical therapy and long recovery periods. If your rotator cuff was torn in an accident, not only will you accrue substantial medical bills, but you’ll also miss a good amount of work, especially if your job involves any sort of physical activity, be it swinging a hammer or stocking a shelf.
If someone else caused your rotator cuff to tear through an act of negligence, you may have grounds for a legal claim to recover some or all your medical expenses and lost wages. To find out more about your legal options, call the injury lawyers in Seattle at Pendergast Law at 888-539-9211 to schedule a free consultation.
What Is The Rotator Cuff?
A rotator cuff is a group of four tendons and muscles that merge together where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder. Together, they form a socket, or ”cuff,” that allows the humerus to move in multiple directions.
When healthy and fully functional, your rotator cuffs allow you to raise your arms above your head, reach behind your back, and perform complex motions. But this only makes matters worse when one is damaged. A rotator cuff tear occurs when part of the socket becomes irritated or pulls away from the bone. Such a tear can ruin your ability to move your upper body without experiencing sharp pain.
Unlike more sudden and obvious injuries like broken bones or head wounds, a torn rotator cuff may start out as mild pain and inflexibility, which is common after a car or bike accident. For active adults, the injury may be brushed off as minor, but in the days after an accident, you may start noticing that your full range of motion is heavily limited, and experience sharp pain and muscle weakness in your upper arm.
Symptoms Of A Torn Rotator Cuff
Following a serious vehicle collision or catastrophic fall, it is common for victims to overlook soft-tissue injuries. These wounds often present as muscle pain, limited flexibility, and a general sense of discomfort, which are all normal responses after an accident. In addition, adrenaline and shock can mask these injuries, making it harder for victims to recognize them.
However, after an accident, it is important to have your injuries reviewed by a trained medical professional, preferably in an emergency room. You should also consider seeing your primary care physician for a full checkup. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may have suffered a torn rotator cuff and should speak to a doctor immediately:
- Difficulty rotating your arm or raising your hands above your head
- A dull ache within either shoulder
- Sharp pain while moving your arm
- Weakness is your arm and upper body
- Difficulty sleeping on your shoulder
- A crackling or clicking sound when raising your arm
- General stiffness
Who Is Prone To Torn Rotator Cuff Injuries?
Anyone can get a torn rotator cuff, but they are prominent in athletes and workers who repeatedly perform overhead motions with their arms. This includes baseball and tennis players, swimmers, painters, and carpenters. Age also plays a big factor in who suffers rotator cuff tears. Individuals over the age of 40 are more prone to rotator cuff injuries, even though they tend to be less active than younger people.
But beyond occupational and sports causes, a rotator cuff can also tear during a catastrophic accident. Blunt-force trauma can easily cause soft-tissue injuries and damage the muscles of the upper body, leading to tears and limited mobility. Even if you are more prone to suffering these types of injuries due to age or having an active lifestyle before the accident, you should not dismiss the overall value of your claim. If someone else caused your rotator cuff to tear, then you may be eligible to receive compensation for their negligent actions.
Accidents That Cause Rotator Cuff Tears
While many torn rotator cuffs are the result of years of repetitive motion and physical stress on the shoulder, they can also be the result of a single sudden incident, such as:
- Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents
- Car accidents
- Bicycle and motorcycle accidents
- Falls from heights
- Sports accidents (skiing, football, etc.)
- Construction accidents
How Is A Rotator Cuff Tear Treated?
If left untreated, this injury can lead to permanent damage, including stiffness, muscle degeneration, and chronic pain. In severe cases, not exercising your shoulder or receiving physical therapy can result in a condition called frozen shoulder, which occurs when the tissue along the shoulder becomes stiff.
However, with proper treatment and care, it is possible to heal a torn rotator cuff. Doctors will typically prescribe rest, placing ice on the shoulder, and physical therapy sessions. Stretches and exercises devoted to the upper body can help strengthen the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff. Steroid injection and pain medications are also an option if you are experiencing chronic pain, especially if it limits your ability to sleep.
Surgery is another method of treatment, but it is usually utilized when no other option is available. A surgeon may need to perform an arthroscopic tendon repair, a minimally invasive surgery that involves a minor incision to reattach the tendon to the rotator cuff. When the damage is more severe, an open tendon repair may be required. This procedure involves a larger incision but is still not that invasive compared to more complex procedures, such as tendon transfers or shoulder replacements.
Tendon transfers are only required when the tendon is too damaged to reconnect with the shoulder. Thus, surgeons may have to remove the damaged tissue and utilize another tendon from your body to replace it. Shoulder replacements operate on a similar principle but are only necessary when the bones of the shoulder are too damaged to heal and must be replaced with prosthetics.
Treatment costs can vary drastically. Physical therapy, medication, and time away from work can easily eat away at your savings, but they pale in comparison to the costs of a serious surgical procedure. These treatments can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars, not including the costs of rehabilitation and lost wages. However, if someone else caused your injuries through an act of negligence, then these costs may be covered in a personal injury claim.
Compensation For Torn Rotator Cuff Injuries In Seattle
Accident victims in the state of Washington can pursue far more than medical costs in a personal injury claim. Our state allows victims to recover the total costs of their injuries, ranging from emergency room visits to aftercare following surgery. In addition, if you took any time off work to attend medical appointments, rest, and fully recover, then these lost wages should be included in your claim. Lastly, accident victims can also include the physical pain of their injuries and the emotional costs of their trauma. These costs are harder to pin down, but our team at Pendergast Law can work with you to determine a fair price.
Altogether, if someone else caused your rotator cuff injury, then you can pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages due to missed work (count on at least 12 weeks after rotator cuff surgery)
- Loss or diminishment of earning capacity
- Permanent injury or disability
- Hedonic damages for loss of joy of life
Pendergast Law Case Results
- $190,000 recovery – a 59-year-old woman who had rotator cuff surgery due to a car accident.
Why You Should Speak To An Attorney
Torn rotator cuff claims are difficult to pursue on your own. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that make their revenue by paying out as little as possible in claims. If you negotiate without an attorney, you quickly learn how dismissive they can be. Given that torn rotator cuffs can occur due to age and overuse, an insurance company may try to argue that your injury is a preexisting condition or that you injured yourself at work. It may even hire an investigator to research your personal life to dig up evidence against you. For example, if you regularly play sports in your free time, the insurance company may argue that your torn rotator cuff is a sports injury rather than an auto accident injury.
All of this is to say that working with an experienced attorney is your best option. At Pendergast Law, we can launch our own investigation into your accident and advocate for proper compensation for your injuries. This process may include speaking with medical experts to review your injuries, securing surveillance footage of your accident, calculating the total costs of your injuries, consulting with an accident reconstruction expert, and collecting witness statements. When it comes time to negotiate with the other party’s insurance company, we can argue that your injuries were clearly the result of that party’s negligence and that you deserve compensation.
A rotator cuff injury can have a serious and prolonged impact on your life. You may have to take weeks off of work, be in unimaginable pain, and even have difficulties picking up your children. To get a settlement worthy of your injury, you need to contact the qualified Seattle serious injury attorneys at Pendergast Law. We have helped many injured Seattle residents secure the compensation they need. Call us at 888-539-9211 for a free consultation.