What Steps Should I Take if I Have Shoulder Pain after a Car Accident?September 13, 2021
Car accidents can cause injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The force of impact causes trauma to various parts of the body, particularly if the vehicles involved were traveling at a high speed. One area of the body that is often affected is the shoulder. Any type of trauma to the shoulder can cause you to experience pain after the accident. Depending on the nature of the accident and the severity of the trauma, the pain may indicate a range of shoulder injuries, from minor sprains to more serious fractures. The costs associated with these injuries can accumulate quickly, particularly if you require surgery and are unable to return to work for an extended period. If you are experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can assist you with the claims process and ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve.
What are the Common Causes of Car Accident-Related Shoulder Injuries?
When your vehicle is struck by another car, the extreme force of impact can cause a great deal of trauma to the body. Shoulder injuries are among the most common types of injuries that are caused by car accidents. In addition to the overall force of impact that can cause significant trauma to the shoulder, the following are examples of other factors that can cause injuries to the shoulder:
- The sudden jolt of the seat belt tightening against your shoulder.
- The impact of your shoulder hitting the door on impact.
- Gripping the steering wheel with arms extended. Tensing the arm muscles to resist the force of impact can cause injuries because the shoulder is not strong enough to withstand the compression.
- The extreme back-and-forth motion that causes whiplash can also cause shoulder injuries.
What are the Symptoms of a Shoulder Injury?
Depending on the type of shoulder injury, you may not feel pain or other symptoms immediately following the accident. Either the injury is not particularly serious, or the adrenaline from the stress of the accident may be masking the symptoms of the injury. More severe injuries, such as a broken collarbone, will likely cause immediate and extreme pain, whereas other shoulder injuries may not produce symptoms until days after the accident. If you were in a car accident and you start to experience any of the following symptoms associated with a shoulder injury, you are urged to seek immediate medical attention:
- Swelling, numbness, or tingling in the shoulder
- Sudden and intense pain
- Stiffness or tenderness in the shoulder area
- Discolored or bruising in the shoulder area
- Decreased range of motion
- Weakness and pain in the shoulder
- Bulge or lump near the collarbone
- Stiff neck
- Cramps or spasms
What Types of Shoulder Injuries are Caused by Car Accidents?
The shoulder connects different parts of the body and has the greatest range of motion than any other joint in the body. Unfortunately, this also makes the shoulder more susceptible to car accident-related injuries. Some shoulder injuries can be treated with rest or physical therapy, whereas others may require surgery or other treatment options. The following are some of the common types of shoulder injuries that are caused by car accidents:
- Rotator cuff tear: The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that keep the ball of your arm bone, or humerus, attached to the shoulder socket. It also helps you raise and rotate your arm. If you have a torn rotator cuff, common symptoms include pain when moving the shoulder, weakness when lifting or rotating the arm, pain when lying on the injured shoulder, and experiencing a popping or a clicking sensation with moving your arm.
- Fractures: The force of impact from a car accident can cause a fractured clavicle, humerus, or collarbone. A fractured collarbone can result in a limited range of motion. A fractured humerus can cause swelling in the shoulder, a limited range of motion, and extreme pain. Compound fractures or injuries for which it is necessary to repair bones with plates, screws, and pins will likely require surgery, including shoulder replacement.
- Soft tissue trauma: This is a less severe shoulder injury compared with a fracture or a torn rotator cuff, but it can be very painful. These types of injuries are actually more common than bone injuries. One example of a soft tissue injury is a superior labrum anterior and posterior (SLAP) tear, which is a tear of the cartilage surrounding the shoulder joint, or the labrum. Surgical and nonsurgical treatment options are available, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication up to arthroscopy. Rehabilitation and physical therapy will help rebuild strength.
- Dislocation: This is another common shoulder injury that is caused by car accidents. Injuries to the shoulder joint occur when the shoulder bone is pushed out of position. The joint becomes immobilized, which causes sudden pain and discomfort. Treatment is usually non-surgical, including the use of slings, cold packs, or medication. Surgery may be required if pain or other symptoms persist.
- Whiplash: If you are rear-ended by another vehicle, whiplash is a common injury. In addition to causing the muscles of the neck to become tight and sore, whiplash can cause pain to radiate to the shoulders. Treatment is generally non-surgical, including physical therapy and pain management.
What are the Treatment Options for Shoulder Injuries?
To determine the most effective treatment option for a shoulder injury, an orthopedist or other specialized doctor will examine the injury. Based on the initial examination, he or she may recommend further testing, including an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound to make an accurate diagnosis. Depending on what the test results show, the doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:
- Physical therapy
What Factors Should I Consider When Filing a Claim for a Shoulder Injury?
In addition to the pain and discomfort associated with the injury, a shoulder injury caused by a car accident can also have an emotional and financial impact. A successful personal injury claim will help secure the financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and costs associated with the injury. The following factors should be considered as you navigate the claims process:
- Disability or long-term impairment: Serious shoulder injuries can cause a long-term disability or impairment. To ensure that your settlement amount reflects this, it is imperative that you are very clear about the extent of your injury and the long-term impact it may have.
- Lost wages or missed investments: If your shoulder injury prevents you from being able to return to work for an extended period, or you missed out on significant investment opportunities while recovering from your injury, this can impact your settlement amount. Your settlement value will likely increase if your earning potential continues to be impacted by your injury.
- Decreased quality of life: Serious injuries that cause temporary or permanent impairments can have a negative impact on your quality of life. This will be considered during the claims process.
How Do I Prove that a Car Accident Caused My Shoulder Injury?
One of the first things you should do if you are injured in a car accident is to seek immediate medical attention. Even if your shoulder injury seems relatively minor, it is imperative that you are examined by a skilled medical professional who can diagnose your injury and recommend the best treatment option. A doctor will be able to provide valuable information about the injury, including whether it was caused by the car accident. If you fail to get medical attention or delay treatment, this can have a negative impact on your case if you pursue a personal injury claim. Depending on the circumstances, your claim may be denied.
It is also highly recommended that you consult with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. He or she will obtain copies of all medical records related to your injury, the police report, and any other documents or information that will prove that your injury was caused by the car accident. In addition, he or she will negotiate with the insurance companies to ensure that you receive the best possible settlement offer. Based on the severity of your injury, a dedicated car accident lawyer will ensure that you are compensated for the following damages:
- All medical expenses associated with the injury
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Car Accident Victims with Shoulder Injuries
If you or a loved one suffered a shoulder injury from a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will thoroughly investigate the case, address all your questions and concerns, and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. Protecting your legal rights is our top priority, and we will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.