Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder Injuries

Each year, nearly 7.5 million people seek medical attention for a shoulder problem, including shoulder and upper arm sprains and strains. More than 4 million of these visits are for rotator cuff injuries alone. Many other visits are for injuries to the labrum, the fibrous tissue inside the socket of the shoulder (the glenoid). In some cases, fractures of the bones of the shoulder or dislocations of the shoulder joint can occur.

Most problems in the shoulder involve the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, rather than bones. Injuries are grouped into two areas: impingement (excessive rubbing of the shoulder muscles against the top part of the shoulder blade, called the acromion) and instability (the shoulder joint moves or is forced out of its normal position).

Shoulder injuries can be painful and prevent you from working or doing any of your usual activities of daily living. If you suspect you have suffered a shoulder injury due to a car accident, fall down or work related injury, it is important that you seek medical attention and receive a proper evaluation as soon as possible.

What are the “mechanisms” that can cause a shoulder injury?

Shoulder injuries in the workplace (worker’s compensation claims) are frequently reported as a result of a sudden pull to lift a heavy object, a repetitive motion or a violent overhead reach. Other shoulder injuries occur due to the sudden force of a fall down (e.g., with an extended arm to catch your fall) or the trauma from an automobile collision (e.g., by gripping the dashboard or steering wheel just before impact).

What are the types of shoulder injuries?

  • Fractures or broken bones, involving the clavicle (collar bone), humerus (top of the upper arm bone), and scapula (shoulder blade).
  • Dislocation injuries such as:
    • A dislocation of the acromioclavicular joint (collar bone) also called a "separated shoulder";
    • A dislocation of the sternoclavicular joint (between the clavicle and sternum; and.
    • A dislocation of the glenohumeral joint or glenoid (the ball and socket joint of the shoulder), which may become dislocated toward the front (anteriorly) or the back (posteriorly).
  • Soft-tissue injuries or tears of the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsule of the shoulder, such as rotator cuff tears and labral tears.

What are the warning signs of a shoulder injury?

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, you should consult a physician if you have experienced these symptoms in your shoulder:

  • Pain in the shoulder, usually with overhead activities
  • Catching, locking, popping, or grinding
  • Night pain or pain with daily activities
  • A sense of instability in the shoulder
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Loss of strength

Why is it important to see an orthopedic surgeon if I think I have a shoulder injury?

Although minor shoulder injuries may heal over time with proper medical care, a full thickness or partial thickness tear injury to a rotator cuff or labrum may not heal without surgical intervention. A tear injury may actually worsen with time and result in complications such as adhesive capsulitis or “frozen shoulder” if left untreated. When medication and rehabilitative therapies are not enough, there are surgical options available, including open (traditional incision) surgery and arthroscopic surgery. Only an orthopedic physician can evaluate and diagnose your symptoms and determine whether you have suffered a serious shoulder injury, or advise if you will need surgery.

Painful shoulder injuries should not be ignored. If you have suffered a shoulder injury as the result of a car accident, fall down or a work related injury, seek medical attention and speak to a knowledgeable injury attorney right away.

Settlement for $737,500 reached in shoulder injury/rotator cuff tear case.
Cook County, Illinois.

In a recent case, John J. Malm was the second attorney retained to represent a 57-year-old man who suffered a shoulder injury as a result of a rear-end-type automobile accident. The other driver’s legal liability in causing the accident was not in dispute. The case was to be tried before a jury on the question of damages: “how much is this claim worth?”

The client had previously engaged another law firm to represent him against the insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance company requested a settlement mediation, at which a settlement proposal was made. After mediation, the insurance carrier and their attorneys offered $190,000 to settle the case. My client’s former attorney strongly urged him to accept the offer. Unsatisfied with the insurance carrier’s offer, the client contacted attorney John J. Malm for a second opinion. Mr. Malm was asked to take over the handling of the case, and he put together an aggressive litigation strategy calculated to increase offer of settlement.

Mr. Malm began taking depositions of eyewitnesses to the crash, whose testimony helped establish the severity of the impact, which caused the injury. Mr. Malm then engaged a vocational rehabilitation specialist to review the client’s work restriction and offer an expert opinion concerning his diminished future employment prospects. Through the testimony of a forensic economist, attorney Malm argued that his client’s future lost income claim would be significant. After completing depositions of the insurance carrier’s own expert physician and economist, the case was prepared for trial, and settled just before trial for $737,500.

There is no substitute for hard work. By allowing attorney John J. Malm to review the facts surrounding the accident, the injuries suffered by the client, and executing an aggressive litigation strategy, the client obtained an additional $547,500 in settlement for his shoulder injury case.