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Workers' Compensation for Those Suffering from Shoulder Injuries

One of the most common work-related injuries that occur on the job is a shoulder injury. Because shoulder injuries often happen as the result of strains or sprains, the possibility of suffering from a shoulder injury is present in any job field. These injuries are not only common , but are usually quite painful and can prevent movement in an area of the body that is used anytime a person uses his or her arm, making it difficult and sometimes impossible to perform job duties and significantly impacting routine daily activities.

Worker with an an injury in the shoulder

The value in permanent disability payments for a workers' compensation settlement for shoulder injuries can vary depending on the complexity of the shoulder injury and the detrimental impact on an employee's mobility.  Additional factors that are considered include whether you suffer from a torn tendon or fractured bone, and whether you will need only pain management or more extensive surgery, the type of surgery performed, and if there is any permanent, residual range of motion or weakness in the shoulder. Regardless of your situation, speaking to an attorney like the ones at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (also known as GEKLAW) can help you get the legal information you need to understand and make an informed decision about your work injury.

Common Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can range from very mild strains or sprains to much more serious injuries that require intense physical therapy and/or surgery. Common workplace shoulder injuries include:

  • Fractures – A shoulder fracture occurs as a result of trauma or injury from a direct blow to the shoulder usually from a single accident and can cause intense pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and problems moving a limb
  • Impingement – Shoulder impingement is a common injury caused when an individual raises their hands above their shoulders, causing irritation to the tendons and rotator cuff muscles. This can result in pain, shoulder weakness, and difficulty raising one's arm.
  • Bursitis – An inflammation of the bursa (a small sac acting as a cushion between bones and other moving parts like muscles, tendons, or skin) caused by overusing a joint
  • Frozen Shoulder – Occurs when the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint thickens and tightens, causing stiffness, restricted mobility, and pain in the shoulder joint.
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries – Tears in a rotator cuff tendon (part of the shoulder joint) often occur from falling on an outstretched arm or lifting something heavy but can also tear over time due to repeated strain
  • Dislocation – A shoulder dislocation happens when the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket and can be either a full or partial dislocation often occurring when an individual falls on their shoulder or an outstretched arm. A shoulder dislocation usually results in severe shoulder pain, swelling and bruising of the shoulder/upper arm, numbness, muscle spasms, and trouble moving the arm.

Industries Where Arm Injuries are Prevalent

Most workplace arm and elbow injuries involving strains and tears occur in industries that require individuals to overexert themselves by engaging in repetitive or strenuous motion. This is common in factories and warehouses, and can also occur in an office setting where repetitive cutting, filing, or typing can result in stress to the arm and/or elbow.

Other industries such as landscaping, plumbing, painting, cooking, and carpentry also have high occurrences of arm and elbow injuries due to individuals having to work in awkward positions, and where the job requires an employee to engage in strenuous repetitive motions that can cause long term strain and limitation of movements. These fields also involve the use of certain tools and methods which can cause repetitive trauma from constant movement and vibration.

While these types of injuries are more common in those settings, an arm or elbow injury can occur in almost any workplace setting due to a slip and fall from spills, icy patches in the parking lot, damaged flooring, etc.

Teacher with a shoulder injury

Medical Treatment

Treatment for arm and elbow injuries usually starts with a physical examination by a doctor to determine the causes of the pain and how best to treat it. During this process, the doctor will look for any abnormalities, swelling, muscle weakness, or tender areas as well as testing for mobility and strength. The doctor may also order specific tests to help identify the causes of the pain such as an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, etc.

While some of these injuries can heal in a short amount of time with proper care such as rest, altering activities, exercise, and medication, some may require surgery, such as "Tommy John" surgery or open elbow surgery, and a long period of recovery time away from work.

In certain situations, an injury may be so severe that it prevents an individual from returning to the same profession, commonly seen in industries such as construction and manufacturing. Regardless of what type of medical treatment is required for that specific injury, it is advisable to file a workers' compensation claim and seek treatment early.

Benefits to Having Legal Representation

Filing a claim is only the first step on the road to recovering the benefits you may be owed. It can be a long and complicated process if you don't know how to navigate the system. For example, failing to present the evidence needed in support of your claims or missing a filing deadline can result in a delay in receiving benefits or even a denial of your claim. There are very strict timelines for filing and evaluating a workers' compensation claim and delays can be common in situations where the insurance company sees the need to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury.

An experienced Workers' Compensation attorney can help injured workers suffering from arm and elbow pain receive the full range of benefits to which they are entitled. The attorneys at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP (also know as GEKLAW) have spent decades representing injured workers in arm and elbow injuries. A knowledgeable and thoughtful legal strategy can go a long way toward a successful outcome.

Recently, GEKLAW represented an injured worker who worked in a warehouse who suffered from neck and right arm pain.  These symptoms came on after repetitive, physical activity moving and stacking boxes.   Initially, the thought was the neck was the cause of the symptoms.  After pushing to secure the appropriate nerve study testing, it was determined that the symptoms were really due to an elbow injury.  We helped secure authorization for a minimally invasive elbow surgery, and after surgery and post-operative surgical medical treatment, our client was able to return to work without restriction.   Thereafter, we secured a final medical and permanent disability Award for our client.  This is just an example of a successful outcome for an injured worker with an arm and elbow injury.

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