Shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff tears are common during car crashes. These injuries often take a long time to heal, and they may require intense physical therapy, medications, time off work, and even surgery. If you suffered a severe shoulder injury, we know you probably have a lot of questions and concerns.
Our car accident lawyers help victims and their loved ones find closure and get financial compensation for losses. In this article, we explain the basics of a rotator cuff injury and outline some factors that may impact your personal injury claims after a wreck.
What Is a Rotator Cuff Tear?
Your shoulder is made up of a series of bones, tendons, muscles, and soft tissues. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint; the head or ball of your upper arm bone (humerus) sits in a shallow, dish-like socket in your shoulder blade (scapula).
Your rotator cuff is made up of four tendons that hold your upper arm bone in the shoulder socket and help your arm rotate. Trauma and overuse can cause these tendons to tear, rupture, and swell, which may lead to a rotator cuff tear.
Common symptoms of a rotator cuff tear include:
- Shoulder pain, especially with movement at or above shoulder level and lifting
- Upper arm pain
- Problems rotating, lifting, and lowering your arm
- Difficulty sleeping at night
- Shoulder and arm weakness
- Cracking and popping sensations
If you experience any of these symptoms after a car wreck, you should talk with your doctor. Untreated rotator cuff injuries can worsen over time and may cause permanent damage.
Doctors typically categorize rotator cuff tears into two categories:
- Partial tear (or partial-thickness tear): Trauma and forces from the crash damage the tendon but do not completely sever it
- Complete tear (or full-thickness tear): The force of the collision rips the tendon in two or tears it away from your humerus bone
A torn rotator cuff may heal with rest, medications, and time. However, you may need physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and surgery, especially if you have a full-thickness tear.
A rotator cuff injury may take months or more to heal, and the healing process can be a frustrating one. You may need multiple rounds of therapy and injections. You may have to try various medications and live with limited use of your arm. You may even need help with simple daily tasks, like brushing your hair or grabbing a gallon of milk out of the fridge.
How Do Doctors Diagnose a Rotator Cuff Tear?
If you’re experiencing any pain after a car wreck, you should see a doctor. Acute rotator cuff injuries are often very painful and frequently require an emergency room visit. However, if your pain is milder, you may be able to schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or a telehealth doctor.
When your doctor examines your shoulder, they’ll have you perform a series of tests that assess your arm’s strength and range of motion as well as the pain you’re experiencing. Based on your exam, your medical team may schedule an x-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to get a closer look at your bones and tendons.
How Do Car Crashes Cause Rotator Cuff Tears?
Rotator cuff injuries can happen in any car crash. As an example, imagine you’re holding onto the steering wheel at a red light when another driver’s car slams into your vehicle. The force of the impact pushes your upper arm into your shoulder, stressing the rotator cuff’s fibers and causing a tear. (The force of a seatbelt’s retraction can damage your shoulder as well.)
However, you may also have underlying arthritis or degenerative changes that make your shoulder more vulnerable to an injury. If that’s the case, the insurance company and their doctors may try to argue that your rotator cuff problems were pre-existing. The insurance company may try to blame your injuries on your work, hobbies, and genetics. Don’t let them get away with these tactics.
Texas, like other states, applies the “eggshell skull” doctrine to injury claims. Under this legal rule, the negligent driver must “take you as you are,” including any factors that may increase your risk of injury.
For example, suppose you were born with a rare condition that made your skull as delicate as an eggshell. If another driver runs a red light, T-bones your car, and causes a massive skull fracture, they can’t avoid liability because of your pre-existing medical condition. This same concept also applies to arthritic shoulders.
If the insurance adjuster or company doctors argue that your shoulder injury is degenerative or unrelated to a car crash, call an experienced car wreck attorney right away. They can help you respond to these allegations and fight back.
What Is My Rotator Cuff Injury Claim Worth?
The settlement value or trial value of your rotator cuff claim will depend on many factors. When you work with Crosley Law, we’ll carefully assess your case, considering the following issues:
- The severity of your shoulder injury
- Medical bills for ER visits, physical therapy, surgeries, diagnostic studies, and other treatment
- Your lost income and wage-earning capacity
- The circumstances surrounding the crash
- How much insurance coverage applies to your claim
After we learn about your claim and your circumstances, our team will help you understand the value of your case and then suggest ways you can get the compensation you deserve.
The insurance company may try to make you a settlement offer, but it’s rarely in your best interest to accept their first offer. Adjusters frequently try to take advantage of unrepresented crash victims by offering them lowball settlements. The adjuster may even discourage you from calling a lawyer, claiming that an attorney will just slow down the process.
“The insurance company may try to make you a settlement offer, but it’s rarely in your best interest to accept their first offer. Adjusters frequently try to take advantage of unrepresented crash victims by offering them lowball settlements. The adjuster may even discourage you from calling a lawyer, claiming that an attorney will just slow down the process.”
Once you settle your claim, you typically can’t go back and demand more compensation, even if you accepted an extremely unfavorable deal. That’s why it’s always a good idea to schedule a free, no-risk consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers before you accept any settlement offer. Unlike the insurance company’s adjusters, we’re on your side. And we’ll never charge you a fee unless we recover a settlement or win your case at trial.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Crash Victims With Shoulder Injuries
At Crosley Law, we stand up for car crash survivors and other injured victims in San Antonio and across Texas. If you’d like to learn more about our approach to rotator cuff injury claims and our track record of success, contact our office today. You can schedule your free consultation and take the first step towards rebuilding after an injury.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.