Shoulder Injury

Is the insurer denying you benefits for your on the job shoulder injury?

Most insurers make more by paying less. A free case evaluation can give you clarity on if you’re getting all the benefits you may be entitled to – or if you should fight for more.

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This page refers to Shoulder Injury in North Carolina.

Since laws differ between states, if you are located in South Carolina, please click here.

How a North Carolina Shoulder Injury Lawyer Can Help You

Information on this page is not intended as a substitute for a medical evaluation by a qualified provider.

A construction worker helping their female colleague with her injured shoulder.

Workers who perform a lot of repetitive motions or do a lot of heavy lifting are at risk of a disruptive, painful, and potentially debilitating workplace shoulder injury. It’s not unusual for an employee with a shoulder injury to need months, years, or even longer to fully recover. Usually, during this time, there are medical bills to pay and household needs and expenses to take care of.

Here is where North Carolina workers’ compensation can come into play. Employers are generally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they have a minimum number of employees. This insurance provides qualifying employees benefits for medical treatment of work-related injuries and cash payments that partially replace lost wages.

Unfortunately, on-the-job shoulder injuries are common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that shoulder injuries caused employees to miss a median of 30 days away from work in 2021-2022 – three times the median of 10 days.

If you have injured your shoulder at work, you should talk to an experienced attorney about filing a workers’ compensation claim. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. Focus on your recovery while we focus on fighting for your rights.

What North Carolina Workers’ Comp Benefits Can I Get for Shoulder Injuries?

If you injured your shoulder at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for the following expenses related to your work injury:

  • Lost wages*
  • Medical treatment
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Death benefits
  • Payment for your permanent impairment

*Lost wages suffered are based on your Average Weekly Wage and can be temporary or permanent and partial or total.

In general, you must be able to prove that your shoulder injury arose out of and in the course of your job duties to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Also, North Carolina’s workers’ comp guidelines must cover your shoulder injury type for you to be eligible. Any potential workers’ comp shoulder injury settlement will consider the following factors: lost time from work, your Average Weekly Wage, the severity of your injury, and the structure of the settlement.

Tip: If your shoulder injury was caused by a person or entity other than your employer or a co-worker, you may be able to file a third-party claim for additional compensation. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help.

Workers’ Comp Guidelines for Permanent Shoulder Injuries

Your treating physician will usually determine any permanent partial disability (PPD) rating for your shoulder injury using workers’ comp guidelines provided by the state. These guidelines are found in G.S. 97-31 for North Carolina.

In general, total loss of use of the shoulder entitles you to two-thirds (2/3) of your average weekly wage, times the number of weeks the law allocates for shoulders. If the permanent loss is less than 100% of your shoulder, the doctor assigns a percentage that is applied to the calculation.

Can I Apply for Disability Benefits for a Shoulder Injury?

If your shoulder injury prevents you from returning to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.

Tip: Workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits may be interrelated. If you qualify for both, this is even more reason you should talk to an experienced North Carolina shoulder injury lawyer.

Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin today if you injured your shoulder at work. Our workers’ comp lawyers and Social Security Disability lawyers can work together to help our clients with their legal needs.

What Are Common Types of Shoulder Injuries at Work?

The shoulder is the most flexible and mobile joint in the body, but this mobility makes it prone to injury.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries Include:

Rotator Cuff Injury

Rotator cuffs connect the humerus (bone in the upper part of the arm) to the scapula (shoulder blade). They keep the bones in place within the shoulder joint while you move, which allows you to rotate your arm and shoulder without pain. If your rotator cuff injury occurred during strenuous activity, it may be more likely that you’ll need more time and treatment before you can return to your job. Although some people get relief from physical therapy, rotator cuff injuries frequently require surgery, leading to costly medical bills.

Shoulder Dislocation

This condition, also known as adhesive capsulitis, occurs when the head of the humerus slips out of the shoulder joint. Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include pain, swelling, numbness, and bruising. Treatment options include relocating the head of the humerus back into the shoulder joint (usually with anesthesia), immobilization, rehabilitation, and sometimes surgery.

Frozen Shoulder

This condition occurs when the tissue surrounding the shoulder joint, called the shoulder capsule, becomes so thick and tight that it’s hard to move. Bands of scar tissue form, and less fluid is lubricating the joint. Treatment for frozen shoulder involves range-of-motion exercises and, sometimes, corticosteroids and numbing medications injected into the joint capsule. In a small percentage of cases, arthroscopic surgery is needed.

Shoulder Impingement

This is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain for workers who use their hands above shoulder level to perform their job duties. It occurs when the rotator cuff catches or rubs against the acromium (top of the shoulder), causing the tendon tissue to swell and fray. Shoulder impingements are treated by icing, physical therapy, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, and, in some cases, cortisone injections.


When the tendons attaching the bones and muscles are strained, the tissue around the tendons can become inflamed and painful. Shoulder tendonitis is often caused by a tendon being pinched by nearby structures. Physicians usually treat shoulder tendonitis with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), physical therapy, ultrasound therapy, corticosteroid injections, and, for severe injuries, surgery.

the human shoulder anatomy including the clavicle, rotator cuff, humerus, tendons & scapula

What Causes On-The-Job Shoulder Injuries?

Certain factors do make a shoulder injury more likely to occur. Everyday actions (such as painting), as well as once-in-awhile events (such as falls), can contribute to a worker’s shoulder pain and discomfort. The most common causes of on-the-job shoulder injuries include:

  • Lifting and carrying
  • Pushing and pulling
  • Falling
  • Awkward positioning
  • Repetitive movement
  • Frequent overhead movement
  • Blunt trauma to the shoulder
  • Working with power tools that cause hand-arm vibration
Tip: Failure to document a shoulder injury right away could affect your workers’ compensation benefits eligibility. As soon as you are injured at work, let your employer know!

Am I at Increased Risk for Shoulder Injuries at Work?

The following list includes just a few of the jobs that carry a risk of shoulder injury:

  • Construction workers who spend much time bending, lifting, and pulling heavy objects
  • Painters and carpenters whose jobs require repeated overhead motions
  • Truck drivers who load and unload heavy cargo
  • Nurses and healthcare workers who help move patients
  • Warehouse workers who lift heavy loads and drive industrial vehicles
  • Landscapers who reach upwards to prune and trim trees
  • Teachers and childcare givers who bend and pick up children throughout the day

woman holding inflamed shoulder area

Someone came out to our house the following week, interviewed me, and then took on my case. I was very satisfied every step of the way because they kept me informed what was going on.


 Berniece R., a bank employee and James Scott Farrin client who was fired after she tore her rotator cuff at work

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Guidance

Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated, and sometimes they are wrongfully denied by the insurance company.

We have workers’ comp attorneys and paralegals who have worked at insurance companies and know how to counter their tactics. If you suffered a shoulder injury at work, our team understands workers’ comp laws and can guide you through the process – from application to potential settlement. Contact us or call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Why us? Several of our workers’ comp attorneys are North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law – a distinction held by less than 1% of lawyers licensed to practice in North Carolina.5

Board Certified Specialist North Carolina State Bar Workers' Compensation Law logo

Several of our workers’ compensation lawyers have been recognized by their peers for their workers’ compensation efforts. This recognition includes lists and awards, such as:

  • “Lawyer of the Year – Workers’ Compensation Law, Claimants” 2022 award recipient4by Best Lawyers
  • “Best Lawyers in America – Workers’ Compensation Law, Claimants” 2024 list honoree4by Best Lawyers
  • “Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch – Workers Compensation Law, Claimants” 2024 list honoree4by Best Lawyers

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we fight for our clients to try to help them receive the maximum benefits they may be entitled to.

Tell them you mean business.

5 Figure provided by NC State Bar as of 1/24.

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