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Shoulder Impingement After a Car Accident

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Get the compensation you deserve for a shoulder impingement caused by a collision.

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A shoulder impingement caused by a car accident can be painful and long-lasting. It could also result in costly medical expenses and require you to take time off from work to recover. So, how do you get fully compensated for a shoulder impingement after a car accident?

Speak to a Law.com Premier Attorney who can build a strong case on your behalf and fight to maximize your compensation. To schedule a free consultation, contact an attorney in your area.

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Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common condition affecting the shoulder joint. It occurs when there is impingement of tendons or bursa in the shoulder from the bones. 

A shoulder impingement typically happens when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become irritated and inflamed as they pass through the subacromial space, the passage
beneath the acromion (part of the scapula).

How does a shoulder impingement from a car accident happen?

In a car accident, the shoulder can be directly impacted, either by striking part of the vehicle (e.g., the door or steering wheel) or by the force of a seatbelt restraining the shoulder abruptly. This direct force can cause swelling, inflammation, or damage to the shoulder structures.

The most common shoulder impingement symptoms include:

  • Shoulder pain: One of the most common symptoms is a sharp, aching, or throbbing pain in the shoulder area. The pain is usually localized to the front or side of the shoulder and can radiate down the arm.
  • Pain with arm elevation: Pain worsens when lifting the arm overhead or when performing activities that involve reaching, throwing, or swimming.
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder: A shoulder impingement can cause discomfort or pain that increases when lying on the affected side.
  • Reduced range of motion: A shoulder impingement can result in difficulty and discomfort when moving the arm, especially in certain directions. This may be accompanied by a feeling of stiffness in the shoulder.
  • Weakness in the shoulder: Weakness in the shoulder can occur, especially when attempting to lift objects or perform overhead activities.
  • Clicking or grinding sensation: You may experience a clicking or grinding sensation in the shoulder when moving the arm.

How long does a shoulder impingement after a car accident last?

The duration of a shoulder impingement following a car accident can vary depending on: 

  • The severity of the injury.
  • Your overall health.
  • The presence of any pre-existing shoulder conditions.
  • The effectiveness and consistency of medical treatment.

For mild cases, symptoms may resolve within a few weeks to a couple of months, especially with prompt treatment. In more severe cases, the recovery could take several months. In some instances, full recovery can take up to a year. If an impingement leads to additional complications such as rotator cuff tears, this can prolong recovery.

Treatment for a shoulder impingement typically involves a combination of non-surgical and, in more severe cases, surgical options. The goal is to reduce pain, decrease inflammation, and restore normal function and range of motion to the shoulder. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Rest and activity modification: Avoid activities that worsen the pain, especially those involving overhead movements. This allows the inflamed tendons to rest and heal.
  • Ice and heat therapy: Applying ice packs to the shoulder can help reduce swelling and pain, especially in the initial stages. Heat therapy is used later to relax and loosen tissues and stimulate blood flow to the area.
  • Medications for pain and inflammation: Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. These should be used as directed by a healthcare professional. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe medication. 
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy involves exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion.
  • Corticosteroid injections: For more severe or persistent pain, corticosteroid injections may be administered into the subacromial space to reduce inflammation. However, these are typically used cautiously. Overuse can weaken tendons.
  • Surgery: If non-surgical treatments don't provide relief, surgical intervention might be considered. The most common procedure is arthroscopic surgery, where a surgeon inserts a small camera and tools through tiny incisions to remove or repair damaged tissue. This surgical method may also be used to increase the size of the subacromial space to reduce impingement.

How much should I settle for a shoulder injury? 

Determining an appropriate settlement amount for a crash-related shoulder injury involves various factors. The value of a shoulder injury settlement can vary based on:

  • Medical expenses such as doctor's visits, hospital stays, physical therapy, medications, and any surgeries or procedures. Future medical expenses should also be considered if ongoing treatment is required.
  • Lost income due to time off work for recovery and medical appointments.
  • Pain and suffering or physical and emotional distress caused by the injury. The calculation for pain and suffering often depends on the severity of the injury, the level of discomfort, and the impact on your daily life.
  • Impact on quality of life, such as your ability to engage in usual activities and hobbies.

To receive compensation for your shoulder injury, you must prove that another party was liable for the injury. This means showing that the injury was caused by someone else's action or inaction.

In some cases, both you and the other party might be found partially at fault for the car accident. Many states follow a comparative negligence rule, where your compensation can be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re found to be 20% at fault for a car accident, your compensation might be reduced by 20%.

In states that use the modified comparative negligence rule, there’s a threshold for receiving compensation at 51% or 50%, depending on which state you’re in. That means you can only seek compensation if your level of fault is below that threshold.

How to prove an injury from a car accident

To be eligible for compensation, you’ll need to prove that your injury is directly related to the crash you were involved in. 

Get medical help as soon as possible after a collision. This is crucial for two reasons: to ensure your health and safety and to obtain medical records that document your injuries. These records serve as evidence of the injuries you sustained.

Document your injuries and symptoms in detail from the time of the collision onwards. Note any physical discomfort, pain, emotional distress, or impact on your daily activities. 

Also, follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and keep records of all medical appointments, treatments, medications, and any other related expenses. This includes physical therapy, counseling, and any special equipment needed for your recovery.

A lawyer will first evaluate the specifics of your case, including the circumstances of your car accident and the extent of your injuries. They can help you understand your legal rights and the potential for compensation.

After the initial consultation, your lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into your car accident. This may include gathering police reports, interviewing witnesses, analyzing crash scene photos, and possibly consulting with crash reconstruction experts.

An attorney will also ensure that your medical injuries, treatments, and prognosis are properly documented. This might involve working with your doctors to get comprehensive medical reports that link your shoulder injury directly to your car accident.

When calculating the total damages you're entitled to, your attorney will include medical expenses, lost wages, future treatment costs, pain and suffering, and any other related expenses.

With a skilled attorney on your side, you won’t have to deal with the other driver’s insurance company. Personal injury lawyers are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies. They can handle all communications and negotiations on your behalf, aiming to ensure that you receive fair compensation without being lowballed.

While most car accident cases are settled out of court, there is the possibility of your case going to trial. Your lawyer will develop a legal strategy tailored to your situation. They'll represent you in all legal proceedings, from pre-trial negotiations to court appearances and trials.

Consult with a Law.com Premier Attorney near you

If you sustained a shoulder impingement or other shoulder injury in a car accident, get an experienced legal advocate on your side. A Law.com Premier Attorney will represent you every step of the way. 

It won’t cost you anything to hire a Premier Attorney. They work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay any upfront fees for their services. To get started on your shoulder injury claim, contact one of our verified attorneys in your area for a free consultation.

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