Workers' Compensation for Shoulder Injuries
Information on this page is not intended as a substitute for a medical evaluation by a qualified provider.
Shoulder injuries can be disruptive and painful. Workers who perform a lot of repetitive motions or do a lot of heavy lifting are at risk of a shoulder injury. It’s not unusual for an employee with a debilitating shoulder injury to need months, years, or even longer to fully recover. And usually during this time, there are medical bills to pay and household needs and expenses to take care of.
Here is where workers’ compensation can come into play. Employers are generally required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they have a minimum number of employees as determined by each state. 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 accounted for 8% of all injuries and illnesses involving days away from work. And these injuries caused employees to miss a median of 27 days away from work during 2018 – more than injuries to any other body part.
If you have injured your shoulder at work, you should talk to a shoulder injury lawyer about potential workers’ compensation benefits and settlements. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. Focus on your recovery, while we focus on fighting for your rights.
What Workers’ Comp Benefits Can I Get for a Shoulder Injury?
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 in order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Also, your specific type of shoulder injury must be covered by your state’s workers’ comp guidelines. Any potential workers’ comp shoulder injury settlement will take into account 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.
Workers’ Comp Guidelines for Shoulder Injuries
Your treating physician usually will 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 and Section 42-9-30 for South 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 your state has allocated for shoulders. If the permanent loss is less than 100% of your shoulder, the doctor assigns a percentage that is then applied to the calculation.
Can I Apply for Disability Benefits for a Shoulder Injury?
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 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:
Torn Rotator Cuff
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. A common symptom of a rotator cuff tear is pain at the top and front of the shoulder or the outer side of the upper arm, which may increase when the arm is lifted in the overhead position. Although some people get relief from physical therapy, a torn rotator cuff frequently requires surgical repair.
This 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.
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 there is less fluid 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.
This is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain for workers that 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.
What Are Common Causes of On-the-Job Shoulder Injuries?
There are many different causes of shoulder injuries at work. 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
- 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 eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. As soon as you are injured at work, let your employer know!
Who is Most at 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, 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
“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 our Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyers for Claim and Settlement 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 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 recipient3 by Best Lawyers
- “Best Lawyers in America – Workers’ Compensation Law, Claimants” 2022 list honoree3 by Best Lawyers
- “Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch – Workers Compensation Law, Claimants” 2022 list honoree3 by 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.
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3For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for the “Best Lawyers,” “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch,” and Lawyer of the Year” awards, visit: www.bestlawyers.com.