Injuries to the shoulder can happen in any line of work, presenting a risk to workers everywhere. Most shoulder injury claims fall under workers’ compensation laws, and the settlement amount you can receive will depend on various factors such as the nature of your injury, prognosis, and job. This article provides an overview of common shoulder injuries in the workplace, estimates average workers’ comp shoulder injury settlements, and discusses the factors that can affect your settlement compensation.
Average Workers’ Comp Shoulder Injury Settlements
Injuries that can be treated without surgery typically settle for amounts between $10,000 and $20,000. Partial disability injuries requiring surgery but not preventing work can see a significant increase in value, ranging from $30,000 to $60,000. The highest-value settlements are for injuries causing full disability, along with the need for surgery, which can easily exceed $50,000 and even reach six figures.
Shoulder injuries are common in factories and warehouses, where lifting heavy objects and twisting motions can cause harm. Slip and fall accidents can also lead to shoulder injuries for office and construction workers. Additionally, employees who drive for a living are at risk of car accidents while working. Regardless of how they occur, shoulder accidents can result in various types of injuries.
Shoulder Impingement Injuries
Shoulder impingement is a frequent cause of shoulder pain, particularly in middle-aged adults and seniors. It occurs when the bones of the shoulder rub against tendons or bursa, causing discomfort and limiting shoulder function. Treatment for impingement usually involves non-surgical methods such as steroid shots and physical therapy. Surgery may be recommended in certain cases, with costs ranging from $8,000 to $18,000 and recovery taking approximately six months.
Work-Related Rotator Cuff Tears
Workers who lift heavy items are especially susceptible to rotator cuff tears, which can cause chronic pain and limit mobility. While approximately 75% of cases do not require surgery, it is crucial to work closely with your doctor and present your case to the workers’ comp insurer promptly. Quick referrals to specialists have been associated with lower costs and faster recovery times. Rotator cuff surgery and related care can cost around $25,000, with an average return to work within seven months. Delayed referrals and the involvement of gatekeepers can increase costs to over $100,000 and extend recovery time to 18 months.
Fractured Shoulder Bones
Many workplace accidents, including motor vehicle and high-impact industrial incidents, result in broken shoulder bones. Fractures of the collarbone, upper arm bone, and shoulder blade can not only hinder specific tasks but also prevent you from working for an extended period. Simple fractures may not require surgery, but complex or open fractures often necessitate surgical intervention, costing between $15,000 and $20,000. Recovery time after surgery can take three to six months.
Factors Limiting Workers’ Comp Settlements
Workers’ compensation benefits usually cover approximately two-thirds of an injured worker’s average weekly wage and do not include compensation for pain and suffering. However, there are circumstances in which you may have the right to sue your employer for a work injury, allowing you to seek comprehensive compensation, including pain and suffering and lost wages.
Workers’ Comp Settlements and Medical Benefits
Workers’ compensation insurance covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses. However, coverage for chiropractic care or alternative treatments may vary depending on your state’s workers’ compensation laws. If you consider settling your workers’ compensation case for a lump sum, it’s important to anticipate future medical expenses and include them in the final settlement amount. Waiving your right to future medical benefits as part of the settlement means you cannot seek additional compensation if medical complications arise later in life.
Disability Wage Settlement Schedules
Your work injury may result in permanent partial or total disability. Federal and state workers’ compensation programs use injury loss-of-use schedules to calculate permanent disability settlements. The schedule assigns a specific number of wage benefit weeks to each affected body part or function. After reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI), you can request a scheduled settlement award. Your doctor will determine the impairment rating expressing the percentage of your disability. For example, if the maximum award for a shoulder injury is 312 weeks and you have a 50% impairment rating, your wage settlement would be calculated as 156 weeks multiplied by your weekly wage benefit.
Getting Back on Track and Back to Work
A shoulder injury can have a life-changing impact, causing pain, disability, and financial burden. Although workers’ comp claims do not factor in pain and suffering, it is essential to ensure that your costs are covered, including a significant portion of lost wages. Negotiating a workers’ comp settlement requires prompt action, as there are strict deadlines for filing claims. If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related shoulder injury, consult a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer in your state for a free evaluation and consultation.