Victims in car accidents often suffer shoulder injuries. It's usually the driver who is injured, because the energy from the crash is transferred through the steering wheel to the driver that is gripping it. This is something our San Diego car accident law firm sees often.
It is such an important body structure that an injury here can greatly affect your daily activity and quality of life. Learn more about shoulder injuries, the symptoms, how they are treated, and how settlement values are reached in these cases.
A shoulder joint is actually composed of three different bones: a clavicle (collarbone), a scapula (shoulder blade), and a humerus (upper arm bone). The shoulders are actually the most movable joints in your body. No other joint has the same range of motion as a shoulder.
This is due to the way it is structured. This structure is also the reason why the shoulder is a problematic area. The shoulder is unstable because the ball of the arm portion of the shoulder (humerus) is actually larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. Think of a hat that is too small for a head. This creates the instability of the joint (but also its superior range of motion).
To remain stable, the shoulder must be anchored by muscles, tendons and ligaments. This complex structure leads to common pains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulder, fractures and arthritis.
If you experience any of the following, seek prompt medical attention.
Your rotator cuff is made up of 4 different muscles and their tendons:
The rotator cuff stabilizes the shoulder, and keeps your arm in the shoulder. A tear in the rotator cuff can be extremely painful, but often it can also be manageable through rest, pain medicine and physical therapy.
Injuries to your rotator cuff occur when one of the four muscles/tendons are damaged or torn. Tears can be partial, or be a full tear through the tissue.
Injuries to the rotator cuff include general wear and tear, especially repeated activities or movements, or the injury can be acute - caused by a traumatic incident like a car accident.
Insurance companies and their lawyers will usually try to argue your shoulder injuries are mostly degenerative and not caused primarily by the accident. They do this because in general, a torn rotator cuff can be a serious, higher value case.
Treatment of a rotator cuff depends on the severity of the tear. If it's a smaller tear, you may be prescribed pain medication, physical therapy, and/or steroid injections.
You may require shoulder surgery if:
Different types of surgery include:
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common injuries suffered in car accidents, mainly due to the design of the shoulder. A specific type of shoulder injury is a labrum tear. The most severe tear is a SLAP tear, a Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior tear. That’s medical mumbo jumbo that means you tore your labrum from front to back.
A labrum is a piece of cartilage, shaped like a cuff, that help hold your shoulder in place. Your shoulder is very unstable, due to its design. It’s essentially a ball and socket, where the ball is much larger than the socket. Think of a basketball sitting on a soup bowl. The advantage to this design is much greater mobility. The downside is the shoulder is unstable and very prone to injuries.
Labrum tears usually occur when you are holding the steering wheel as the crash happens. What can make things worse, is when you see the accident occurring and in anticipation you brace for impact, stiffening your hold on the steering wheel, locking your elbows. What this makes for, is a very stiff arm that instantly transfers energy to your shoulder.
If you are suffering from any injury, please go see a doctor right away. If it is a shoulder injury, you will probably need to see a specialist, who may order diagnostic imaging tests such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
If you are lucky, just some medicine and time is enough for shoulders to heel. Unfortunately, in severe cases arthroscopic surgery will need to be performed if the pain doesn’t go away, and your shoulder does not heal.
If you suffered a torn labrum or rotator cuff in a car accident, then I highly recommend speaking with a lawyer. A torn cuff or labrum is a very serious injury. The more serious the injury, the less likely an insurance company is going to offer you a fair or reasonable settlement if you represent yourself. Some tricks they might try: