For most people, the shoulder is the most movable joint in the body. However, it is also more susceptible to different types of injuries, ranging from repetitive strain and overuse to rotator cuff injuries and dislocations.
Suffering a shoulder injury can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain, not to mention the possible lifelong complications and devastating medical expenses. A shoulder injury can severely limit your mobility and reduce the range of motion, which may affect your ability to perform your job duties or tasks of daily living.
If you suffered a shoulder injury because of someone else’s negligent conduct, consider contacting a Chicago shoulder injury lawyer to seek financial compensation from the negligent party. Abels & Annes, PC, takes on these types of cases and will evaluate your rights for free.
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The Consequences of Suffering a Shoulder Injury
Depending on the nature and severity of the shoulder injury, a victim may need to undergo surgery. In some cases, the injured party may suffer from a limited range of motion for the rest of their life.
Many people never realize how much they use their hands and arms until they suffer an injury. In truth, humans use their hands for almost every aspect of daily life. Whether getting dressed, picking up a set of keys, typing at work, or even making dinner for your family, hands are vital to it all.
When a victim sustains a shoulder injury, though, suddenly even the smallest movement of a hand or arm is excruciating if it is even possible. Many injuries leave victims unable to raise their arm above a certain height or turn their arm from one side to the other. With this limited mobility, normally automatic and easy tasks can become difficult.
Common Types of Shoulder Injury
The shoulder consists of three bones: the clavicle (collar bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper arm bone). The ball of the humerus is bigger than the socket that holds it, which makes the shoulder joint unstable. The lack of stability in the shoulder joint makes it more vulnerable to injuries.
While some shoulder injuries are relatively minor, like bruises/contusions or a separated shoulder, more serious shoulder injuries include fractures (broken bones) and rotator cuff tears.
Some of the most common types of shoulder injury include:
- Rotator cuff injury. The term rotator cuff refers to the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. The primary function of the rotator cuff is to keep the head of the humerus within the socket. However, putting too much stress on the rotator cuff can cause injuries. Rotator cuff injuries can occur from repetitive stress or traumatic events.
- Separated shoulder. Damage to the ligaments that connect the collar bone with the shoulder blade can cause a partial or complete shoulder separation. Falling or the force of impact in an automobile accident can cause this injury.
- Brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus consists of the network of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the hands, arms, and shoulders. A brachial plexus injury occurs when the nerves are torn, stretched, or otherwise damaged.
- Dislocated shoulder. The shoulder can become dislocated when the upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket. Usually, this type of shoulder injury occurs due to a strong blow to the shoulder. Common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include swelling, numbness, acute pain, and difficulty moving the arm and shoulder.
- Shoulder sprains and strains. A person can suffer a shoulder sprain or strain when ligaments, tendons, or muscles stretch or tear.
- Tendinitis of the shoulder. This type of shoulder injury occurs due to inflammation or irritation of the tendons. Repetitive movements are a common cause of tendinitis of the shoulder.
- Fractured scapula, humerus, or collar bone. The force of impact in a slip and fall accident, motor vehicle accident, or another traumatic event may result in fractured shoulder bones, including humerus, scapula, or collar bone.
Regardless of what type of shoulder injury you suffered, you need immediate medical attention to diagnose your injury and begin the necessary treatment for the best possible outcome in your recovery.
Causes of a Shoulder Injury
Shoulder injuries can occur in:
- Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents. One of the most common ways to suffer a shoulder injury is a slip and fall or a trip and fall incident where a victim either stumbles or slips on a surface and then falls to the ground. When a person begins to fall, it is human nature to attempt to break a fall by putting your arms and hands in front of your body so that your arms hit the ground first. This makes it less likely that your head or other vital organs will absorb the brunt of the impact and can reduce overall injuries.
- Automobile accidents. Another common cause of shoulder injury is automobile accidents. In auto accidents, shoulder injuries usually occur in one of two ways: either an object strikes the shoulder directly, or the driver of a car tenses his or her grip on the steering wheel, and the force of the impact to the car and driver’s body causes the damage. The first type of crash happens when one car collides into the side of another car and causes the side of the second car to indent, striking the passengers inside. We see the other type of accident most often in rear-end collisions where one car strikes the rear bumper of another.
- Bicycle and motorcycle accidents. A shoulder injury is also a common injury suffered by victims of bicycle and motorcycle accidents. Bicyclists and motorcyclists are susceptible to various injuries, including shoulder injury, when involved in an accident with other vehicles. They do not have any protection, such as airbags or seat belts, to reduce the severity of their injuries. The impact can lead to dislocations, muscle tears, or fractures.
- Workplace accidents. On-the-job accidents may also result in a shoulder injury, especially when a worker falls from a ladder or scaffold. Some shoulder injuries also occur from overuse and everyday wear and tear from performing monotonous tasks as part of the job duties. When this happens, the injured worker may pursue a workers’ compensation claim.
Regardless of what caused your shoulder injury, you might have a right to recover damages if you can demonstrate proof that your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongful conduct.
Symptoms of a Shoulder Injury
The fact that you suffered a shoulder injury may not be apparent immediately after the accident. Often, victims develop symptoms of a shoulder injury within days or even weeks after the traumatic event.
Symptoms that may indicate that you sustained a shoulder injury include:
- Pain in the shoulder when moving the arm or carrying objects
- Limited range of motion
- Stiffness or tenderness in the shoulders
- Numbness or tingling
- Loss of feeling or weakness in the shoulder
- Swelling in the damaged area
If you notice any symptoms of a shoulder injury, you may want to get checked up as soon as possible. A doctor will perform a physical exam and may order additional tests to diagnose your shoulder injury. Starting the treatment right away can improve your chances of full recovery.
Failure to seek medical attention and diagnose your injury within a reasonable time may jeopardize your shoulder injury claim. The insurance company is likely to argue that your delay in receiving medical care proves that your injury is not as serious as you claim.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Shoulder Injury
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in your body, which is why diagnosing a shoulder injury requires professional help. If you believe that your shoulder was injured, you should visit a hospital or go to a doctor to get a diagnosis. A doctor will perform a physical examination and determine the nature and severity of the shoulder injury based on the symptoms and the range of motion.
However, a doctor may also order additional medical imaging tests, including MRIs, CT scans, and X-rays, to provide an accurate diagnosis. Once they determine your diagnosis, your doctor can prescribe a treatment plan.
Depending on the nature of the shoulder injury, possible treatment may include:
- Physical therapy. A doctor may prescribe physical therapy to alleviate shoulder pain and improve the range of motion after an injury.
- Injection. Cortisone injections are a crucial part of the treatment of shoulder injuries. These injections reduce pain and improve movement.
- Medication. A doctor may also prescribe medication to alleviate pain and help speed up the recovery process.
- Surgery. While surgery is the last resort when treating a shoulder injury, it may be necessary to repair a tear of the rotator cuff and restore function. In some cases, a victim may need a shoulder replacement procedure to remove damaged bones and replace them with metal or plastic implants.
A large number of people who sustain shoulder injuries need physical therapy and rehabilitative care in addition to any treatment received by a medical doctor. This therapy is usually designed to help the victim return to a pre-injury state of function so that the patient can return to as many activities as possible.
If you have sustained a shoulder injury, you should seek any needed medical treatment so that you may have a chance of a full recovery. In extreme cases, the victim may need to undergo a joint replacement, which is a complex and expensive procedure.
Compensation for a Shoulder Injury
A person who sustains a shoulder injury may have to deal with a great deal of pain and unexpected expenses, including mounting medical bills. Since the victim’s mobility may be limited, he or she may no longer work and earn a living. For this reason, if you suffered a shoulder injury, you might want to explore your options for compensation.
Depending on the severity of your shoulder injury and the skill and expertise of your Chicago shoulder injury lawyer, you can seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills, including the cost of surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy, among other procedures
- Loss of income, including lost wages and the loss or decrease in earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Impairment or physical disability
- Emotional distress
The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved through an agreed-upon settlement. However, some cases go to court. If your Chicago shoulder injury lawyer says you should not accept the proposed settlement offer because it does not accurately reflect your losses associated with the injury, your lawyer will most likely file a lawsuit and handle the court proceedings on your behalf to secure the full compensation to which you are entitled.
How Can a Chicago Shoulder Injury Lawyer Help?
No matter what caused your shoulder injury, an experienced lawyer will examine the details of your accident and develop a strategy to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. A skilled lawyer will handle the legal aspects of your insurance claim while you focus on recovering from the shoulder injury.
A Chicago shoulder injury lawyer can provide the following types of services:
- Help you seek the assistance of a medical professional to begin the treatment
- Determine what caused your accident and who can be held responsible for causing the shoulder injury
- Evaluate your economic and non-economic damages and losses, including medical bills and lost wages
- Communicate with insurance companies on your behalf
- Negotiate a fair settlement offer to ensure that compensation for your shoulder injury is fair
- Advice you on your legal options and help you resolve your shoulder injury claim in the most efficient manner possible
An experienced and results-driven lawyer will fight for the compensation to which you are entitled and advocate tirelessly on your behalf. With a lawyer on your side, you can alleviate your stress and focus on your medical treatment while the lawyer handles your claim in your best interests.