The stress experienced during a car crash causes all the muscles in the body to become tense. When the stress ends, the muscles will release the tension. However, this tensing of the muscles can lead to an injury, even when an accident is minor. In addition, due to the body’s natural reaction of releasing hormones (e.g., adrenalin) to assist the body as it deals with stress, a shoulder injury from a car accident may not reveal itself right away. For this reason, seeking medical treatment directly after any automobile accident is recommended.
The Shoulder Joint Consists of Three Bones
Shoulder joints consist of three bones: the collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula) and the upper arm bone (humerus). The shoulders tend to be somewhat unstable: This instability results from the ball of the upper arm being larger than the socket holding it. As such, for the shoulder to remain stable and in the proper position, it must be anchored by the surrounding tendons, muscles, and ligaments.
Shoulder Injuries Caused by Seat Belts
If you suffered a shoulder injury due to your seat belt, you are not alone. The seatbelt crosses the shoulder, which is why shoulder injuries are a common occurrence during motor vehicle accidents. Even so, the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) and law enforcement still recommend the use of a seat belt: Keep in mind that wearing a seat belt is the law. Moreover, while a shoulder injury during an automobile accident can result, the seat belt may very well save your life: According to the NHTSA, seat belts saved almost 14,000 lives in 2015.
Common Shoulder Injuries from Car Accidents
Usually, it is the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the shoulders that become injured during a motor vehicle accident.
There are two categories that the medical field uses when diagnosing shoulder injuries:
- Instability – this injury occurs when the shoulder joints are misaligned. The symptoms associated with this category of shoulder injury includes pain upon raising the arm and/or the feeling that the shoulder is not in the right place.
- Impingement – this injury occurs when the shoulder blade and shoulder muscles rub against one another: However, impingement usually results from repetitive overhead arm movements (rarely due to a car accident).
Shoulder Strains and Sprains After an Accident
The term strain refers to a condition in which a tendon or muscle has become stretched, or torn. Symptoms of a strain include swelling, muscle spasms, cramping, pain and difficulty moving the shoulder.
The term sprain refers to a condition in which a ligament is stretched or torn. The ligaments are responsible for connecting the bones at the shoulder joint. Symptoms of a shoulder sprain include bruising, swelling, pain, an inability to move the shoulder altogether. At the time of injury, a pop or tear may be felt.
A Shoulder Dislocation After an Accident
A dislocation is a joint injury characterized by the ends of the bones being positioned incorrectly. A dislocated shoulder will be swollen, extremely painful and noticeably out of place. In addition, moving it may be impossible.
A dislocated shoulder is an emergency; therefore, seeking treatment directly following a car accident is essential. The shoulder may need to be repositioned and medicine for the shoulder pain can be provided. Initially, a sling or splint might need to be worn; however, eventually, rehabilitation treatments will begin.
Unfortunately, once any joint is dislocated, the chances of a recurrence is likely.
Rotator Cuff Injuries After an Accident
The rotator cuff consists of tendons and muscles that help the shoulder move: These muscles and tendons also assist with maintaining stability. During an automobile accident, the rotator cuff may become torn, the tendons might be inflamed (tendinitis) or the fluid filled sac (bursa) may become irritated and swollen (bursitis).
Some rotator cuff tears are extremely painful; whereas, others are not.
A ‘No Fault’ Insurance State, Explained
Since New York is a ‘no-fault’ insurance state, after a car accident, you are required to contact your own insurance company to inform them about the accident: The no-fault insurance will pay up to $50,000 for your medical expenses and lost wages; however, it will not cover loss of property or pain and suffering. In order to be compensated for these losses, you need to file a personal injury claim to and seek a shoulder injury settlement.
To receive compensation in this type of case, you have to prove that you have been seriously injured.
Should Injury Settlements
While some damages are easy to calculate, others require the skill of a knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer. Medical bills and lost wages are considered ‘concrete losses’ because they can be calculated using a paper trail; however, determining pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and future lost wages are ‘not concrete.’ For these reasons, calculating a car accident shoulder injury settlement cannot be completed until all the evidence is gathered.
If you have a shoulder injury due to a car accident and you are having difficulty with your no-fault insurance company, contact The Law Office of Siler & Ingber LLP today at to schedule your free case review. Moreover, if you would like to seek compensation for lost property as well as for pain and suffering, we may be able to help.