Shoulder Pain After Wreck? Here’s What to Do Next

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Yet unlike readily visible injuries, such as cuts and major fractures, many shoulder injuries aren’t immediately obvious, and can be difficult to diagnose and treat. This can cause complications if you’ve been injured because of someone else’s carelessness and want to seek fair compensation.

This post will outline some of the most common shoulder injuries after car accidents and describe how you might experience them. We’ll also provide guidance on what to do next, and how an experienced personal injury attorney can make the entire process easier and increase your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.   

Common Causes of Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident

Sometimes post-car-accident shoulder pain is due to minor, temporary inflammation or bruising. Other times, it’s related to serious injuries in the shoulder joint, shoulder blade, or even the upper arm bone.

Common causes of shoulder pain after a car accident include: 

Whiplash

Whiplash is a whipping, back-and-forth motion of the neck that often happens when a vehicle is hit from the front or rear. This causes issues for the head, neck, and back, and the shoulders are also likely to be affected. Muscle strains and tears often means whiplash pain radiates into the shoulders.

Rotator Cuff Tear

A torn rotator cuff is a tear in the grouping of four muscles that attach the arm bone (humerus) to the shoulder blade. Not only will this cause shoulder pain, but you might experience weakness or a cracking sensation when moving your arm. A torn rotator cuff could ultimately require shoulder surgery.

Bone Fracture

The main bones that cause shoulder pain after a car accident are the clavicle (collar bone) and humerus (arm bone). Fractured clavicles are especially common, but both kinds of bones are vulnerable in a car crash because of their closeness to the steering wheel, dashboard, and window. An incredibly blunt force could even cause a fracture in your scapula (shoulder blade).

Dislocation

If a car accident forces the body to twist with the arm in a particular position, the arm might also twist and come out of the shoulder joint. This can certainly cause shoulder pain, but you could also lose shoulder mobility and feel like your arm is “dead” or separated from your body. Proper medical treatment is vital to preventing muscle damage and other serious conditions. 

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are incredibly common after a car accident. Soft tissues include muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves that surround organs and bones and hold them in place. The shoulder is full of soft tissues that give it strength and mobility. When these are bruised, sprained, or strained, it can cause shoulder pain, weakness, swelling, and loss of movement.   

Symptoms of Car Accident Shoulder Injuries

Symptoms of a shoulder injury can range from minor discomfort to major pain and loss of function. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, watch for the following symptoms and report them to your doctor:

  • Shooting Pain
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Tingling/numbness
  • Burning sensations
  • Knotting/stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Reduced range of motion

When you seek medical attention for shoulder pain, your doctor may order diagnostic imaging, such as an x-ray, to get a proper look at the bones and soft tissues. Medications can include steroids to reduce pain and inflammation. (Ice can help as well.) Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment can reduce pressure on the shoulder and help it heal.

Experienced car accident attorneys are familiar with shoulder injuries and pain after a car accident. They’ll know how to present the cause of your injured shoulder to the insurance company and give you a better chance at fair compensation for your personal injury claim. 

RELATED: How to Prove You Have Whiplash — and How a Lawyer Can Help

How to Pursue Compensation for Your Shoulder Injury

Maybe you have one of the most common shoulder injuries. Maybe your diagnosis is something you’ve never even heard of. Either way, if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence and they’re negatively affecting your life, you deserve financial compensation. 

If you’re wondering how to begin, start with this list:

  • Gather all important records and documents associated with your case. This includes medical bills, pay stubs (to show lost wages), photos of the accident and injuries, contact information for anyone present at the accident, and medical records of your diagnosis and treatment plan.
  • Go to all your medical appointments and therapy sessions (physical rehab and cognitive therapy) and follow the instructions doctors give you. This shows that you’re doing what you can to heal.
  • Do not speak with the at-fault party’s insurance company before first speaking with an attorney, as the insurance adjuster may try to get you to say something to use against you in the investigation. They might also try to get you to accept a settlement that is less than what you deserve.
  • Avoid talking about your shoulder injury and auto accident on social media. Anything you say could be twisted and used against you. It’s best to discuss the situation only with those who need the information, such as a spouse, doctor, or lawyer.
  • Work with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the complexities of a personal injury claim and increase the chances of you securing fair compensation. 

Once you’re working with an attorney and have the materials you need to build a solid case for your shoulder injury, this is what you can expect during the process of recovering compensation:

  • Your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company, outlining your losses (medical care, lost wages, etc.) and why the at-fault party is responsible for them.
  • The insurance company may send a counteroffer for less than you and your attorney know you deserve. This begins a negotiation process, with the parties involved hopefully reaching an agreement on a settlement amount.
  • If the sides cannot agree, you may try mediation or arbitration (where a neutral third party facilitates settlement discussions) or escalate your claim to a lawsuit.
  • Once the compensation amount is agreed upon, whether in negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or a lawsuit (usually these cases don’t go all the way to court trial), your case will be wrapped up and the insurance company will send a settlement check

It might sound simple, but there are often some bumps and challenges along the way. Your chances of getting fair compensation for your shoulder injury are greatly increased when you work with an experienced car accident attorney.

RELATED: Can I Be Compensated for Neck and Back Pain After Car Accident Injuries?

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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