Value of Workers Compensation Shoulder Injury Settlements in Virginia
Richmond, VA Shoulder Injury Lawyer Corey Pollard Helps Maximize the Value of Workers’ Compensation Claims for Injured Employees Who Have Suffered Shoulder Injuries, Labral Tears, and Rotator Cuff Injuries on the Job or in Auto Accidents
The shoulder is the most movable joint in the human body. It helps us reach, lift, carry, push, pull, and use our hands.
The shoulder is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle).
A group of muscles and tendons, called the rotator cuff, keeps your upper arm bone centered in your rounded shoulder socket. The glenoid labrum which is a fibrocartilaginous structure, provides cushion to the shoulder joint.
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common workplace injuries in Virginia, affecting thousands of employees each year. The more your job requires you to use your arms and lift or carry, the greater the likelihood that you will suffer a shoulder or rotator cuff injury at work.
We have represented retail employees, construction workers, manufacturing employees, auto mechanics, truckers, professional athletes and entertainers, and many others who have suffered a wide range of shoulder injuries on the job.
For example, we have obtained top-dollar workers compensation settlements for employees who injured their shoulder and rotator cuffs in slip and fall accidents, while lifting a heavy object, while repairing a vehicle on a lift, while reaching awkwardly for an item necessary to complete their job, and while hanging drywall. We’ve also resolved workers compensation shoulder injury cases resulting from auto accidents.
If you hurt your shoulder on the job or in a work-related accident, then you should contact an experienced workers compensation lawyer immediately to determine whether it is appropriate to file a workers’ comp claim in Virginia. You may be entitled to workers compensation benefits if you suffered an injury to your shoulder for the first time or even if your work-related accident aggravated a pre-existing shoulder or rotator cuff condition.
This article provides an overview of the types of workplace shoulder injuries we often see and how to determine the settlement value of your shoulder injury or rotator cuff tear claim. If you have questions about Virginia workers compensation, or are looking for quality legal representation to protect you from an aggressive employer or insurance company, contact Corey Pollard for a free consultation regarding the value of your shoulder injury claim under workman’s comp in Virginia. We will also evaluate your claim to determine whether you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on the long-term effects of your shoulder injury or rotator cuff tear.
Understanding the Difference Between Chronic Shoulder Pain and a Sudden and Specific Shoulder Injury in Workers’ Compensation
Many workers, especially those of you whose jobs involve heavy, manual labor, experience chronic shoulder pain. Excessive use of the arms and shoulders can lead to inflammation and swelling of the bursa, which are small sacs filled with fluid, between the rotator cuff and the acromion. This condition is called subacromial bursitis.
Bursitis is often accompanied by rotator cuff tendinitis, which affects tendons. A tendon is a cord that connects bone to muscle. Most tendinitis is caused by the wearing down of the tendon over time, much like a rope frays over time.
There are two types of tendinitis:
- Acute tendinitis. Excessive use of the arm, such as throwing a ball or reaching overhead at work, can cause acute tendinitis.
- Chronic tendinitis. Degenerative disease like arthritis or wear and tear due to repetitive use of the shoulder can lead to chronic tendinitis.
Tendinitis often affects the four rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder and the biceps tendon.
Having preexisting tendonitis, osteoarthritis, or wear and tear does not mean that you will lose your workers’ compensation claim for a shoulder injury automatically. If you’re able to prove that a sudden and specific event at work aggravated or worsened your preexisting shoulder condition, causing it to become symptomatic, or that your work-related accident accelerated the need for shoulder surgery such as a SLAP repair or rotator cuff repair, then you can receive workers’ comp.
Proving that a shoulder injury on the job aggravated, exacerbated, or accelerated your preexisting arthritis, tendonitis, or bursitis will require an experienced lawyer and opinions from a medical expert. Do not try to win or settle your workers’ comp shoulder injury claim on your own.
Common Shoulder Injury Symptoms
How do you know if you have a work-related shoulder injury? Look for the following symptoms:
- Popping or clicking noise
Seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms in your shoulder, neck, or arm. The earlier you treat the better your chance of recovery.
Common Shoulder Injuries on the Job
There are many types of shoulder injuries that workers often experience. They range in severity from strains and sprains that resolve in a few days or weeks to dislocations, fractures, rotator cuff tears, and frozen shoulders that affect mobility permanently.
The most common shoulder injuries are rotator cuff injuries, labral tears, and frozen shoulder.
Work-Related Rotator Cuff Injuries
Earlier we discussed tendinitis, which occurs when the rotator cuff muscles become inflamed. Other types of rotator cuff injuries include shoulder impingement syndrome, which occurs when the muscles get pinched and trapped, and rotator cuff tears, which can be partial or complete tears.
The most common causes of rotator cuff injuries at work include:
- overextending the arm while performing a work-related task
- lifting an object overhead
- falling on the shoulder
- using the shoulder repeatedly
Shoulder pain – both when the arm is moved and when it is held still – is the main symptom of a rotator cuff injury. An orthopedic doctor will diagnose a rotator cuff injury based on your clinical presentation and examination findings. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often used to determine whether there is a rotator cuff tear and, if so, the extent of it.
Your doctor may try to treat your rotator cuff injury conservatively at first. This will involve resting the shoulder in a sling, prescribing pain medication, and having you perform physical therapy exercises that work on external and internal rotation of the shoulder joint. But if physical therapy fails, you will require surgery. Surgery is the only way to treat a torn rotator cuff.
Following rotator cuff repair surgery, your doctor will place you in a sling for four to 8 weeks. You will need to undergo physical therapy for 8 to 12 weeks to regain range of motion in the shoulder joint.
Your physician will likely limit you to sedentary work (no lifting overhead, lifting/pushing/pulling/carrying less than 10 lbs) for two to three months. Depending on how your therapy goes and how well the rotator cuff repair went, you may be released to work at the medium or heavy exertional level four to eight months post-surgery. In my experience, however, permanent restrictions are often required for rotator cuff injuries on the job.
Work-Related Labral Tear Injuries
Your shoulders are ball and socket joints. This is why your arms can move forward, backward, sideways, in, and out. This movement, however, comes at a cost. Your shoulder is unstable.
The labrum, a rubbery material attached to the glenoid bone, deepens your shoulder socket. This enhances stability, but the labrum is susceptible to tearing. When your labrum tears you will feel deep pain in the shoulder. You may also experience a painful clicking or catching in the shoulder with movement.
There are several types of labral tears. A common one is called a SLAP tear. This stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tear, which refers to the part of the labrum that is injured. A SLAP tear may be accompanied by tearing of the biceps tendon, which attaches to the labrum.
If physical therapy does not improve your labral tear symptoms, then you may require surgery. A shoulder labrum repair requires several weeks in a sling and physical therapy. It will be several months before you can progress to heavier work post-labral repair surgery.
Work-Related Frozen Shoulder Injuries
Frozen shoulder, formally known as adhesive capsulitis, is a medical condition that may occur following your rotator cuff injury, labral tear, or shoulder surgery. A medical procedure that prevents you from moving your arm increases the likelihood of suffering a frozen shoulder injury as part of your workers’ compensation claim.
Treatment for frozen shoulder includes therapy focusing on range-of-motion exercises, steroid injections, medication, and even arthroscopic surgery called shoulder manipulation to try to loosen the muscles and tendons in the shoulder joint capsule so that it can move freely.
Shoulder manipulation surgery often requires three to four months of limited arm use.
Determining Your Workers Compensation Shoulder Injury Settlement Value in Virginia
If you prove that you suffered a shoulder injury by accident arising out of and in the course of your employment, then your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier must provide all applicable benefits. These benefits may include:
- A lifetime medical award for all reasonable and necessary medical care related to your shoulder injury, rotator cuff injury, or labral tear.
- Temporary total disability payments if you are unable to earn a living while out of work for your shoulder injury.
- Temporary partial disability payments if you’re capable of returning to light duty at a lower wage rate following your shoulder injury.
- Permanent partial disability payments for loss of use of the arm because of your shoulder injury. The amount of these payments is based on your functional capacity evaluation and permanent impairment rating.
- Vocational rehabilitation to help you transition to a new career if you are unable to return to your pre-injury job because you hurt your shoulder.
To receive these benefits for your shoulder injury, you must first notify your employer of the shoulder injury in writing and request a panel of physicians from which to choose.
You may pursue a full and final settlement of your workers’ compensation shoulder injury claim. We recommend hiring an experienced workers’ comp lawyer to negotiate a shoulder injury or rotator cuff injury settlement so that you can analyze and address the following issues:
- Whether the compensability of your shoulder injury is disputed. Not all on-the-job injuries are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. An attorney can help you determine the likelihood that you will win on compensability. The greater the risk of losing on compensability, the less your case is worth. Your version of events, witness statements, and the underlying medical reports and diagnostic test results play a role in this analysis.
- Your appropriate pre-injury average weekly wage. This number drives the value of many of the benefits to which you will be entitled. It’s critical that you use the highest number possible.
- Your level of permanent impairment due to the shoulder injury. As your attorney, we will have one of our doctors provide an impairment rating pursuant to the AMA Guides. You are eligible for up to 200 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits for a shoulder injury, labral tear, or torn rotator cuff because such an injury can cause permanent impairment to your entire arm.
- Your geographic location. Many shoulder injuries lead to permanent restrictions. If you live in a rural area with few employers, the insurance carrier will have a difficult time finding you work. This increases the value of the case.
- Your pre-injury job responsibilities. Shoulder injuries happen to people in all occupations. If you work in construction or manufacturing, a shoulder injury will make it more difficult to return to work in your pre-injury job than if you are an office worker or administrative assistant with a sedentary job who has suffered a shoulder injury.
- Your projected future medical costs for the shoulder injury. Shoulder replacemnet surgery can cost more than $100,000.00 and make it impossible to return to jobs at the heavy or medium exertional level. You will also require pain management, which is expensive.
- Other sources of income. Do you qualify for long term disability or SSDI benefits? Then it may make sense to settle your shoulder injury case so that you can reduce any offset.
- Other sources of health coverage. Your attorney can help you evaluate the likelihood that private health insurance or government-provided insurance will have to pay for treatment for your shoulder injury if your case settles on a denied and disputed basis.
- Whether a resignation is required. Some insurance companies and employers require injured workers to resign if they accept a settlement. Some of you may be ok with this, while others will not be. It’s important that you understand all the terms of the shoulder injury settlement offer.
Attorney Corey Pollard: Helping Virginia Workers and Accident Victims with Shoulder Injuries
You’re a hard worker. And you may be dismissing your shoulder pain as something you can live with and work through. But please don’t. Protect yourself and your family by fighting for your workers’ compensation benefits if your job caused your shoulder pain or increased your symptoms.
We recommend hiring a personal injury attorney and work injury lawyer to negotiate a workers’ compensation shoulder injury settlement. By hiring someone who knows the insurance company’s tactics, you increase the chance of maximizing your shoulder injury or rotator cuff injury settlement.
If you are looking for a workers compensation shoulder injury lawyer in Virginia, contact Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We represent injured workers and accident victims in Richmond, Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, and Roanoke. And your consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.