Valuing a Shoulder Injury Case – Major Factors to Consider

by | Published on Jul 5, 2017 | Medical Record Review

Shoulder impingement syndrome personal injury claims call for detailed medical claims review to determine the appropriateness of medical services provided and the nature of the injury. The treatments for this condition vary on the basis of severity. A shoulder injury can cause considerable debilitation to your entire arm’s movement. Such injuries are acquired from work and traffic accidents, slips and falls, and other mishaps. It is estimated that around 7.5 million people in the United States visit the doctor each year following a shoulder injury; more than four million are injuries sustained to the rotator cuff.

Quite painful and restrictive, shoulder injuries are grouped into those causing impingement and those resulting in instability. In the first group, repetitive rubbing of the shoulder muscles on top of the shoulder blade could lead to serious damage like bone degeneration and muscle tears. Shoulder impingement often occurs in people engaged in physically strenuous jobs. Shoulder instability occurs when the socket is dislocated from the shoulder joint, and this happens to victims of car accidents, slip and fall injuries and other serious accidents. Instability injuries can cause loss of strength and flexibility.

It is important to seek immediate medical attention because left untreated these conditions could lead to severe disability. If the injury is caused at the workplace or by some other party, a person’s employer or other responsible party should be responsible for his/her medical expenses.

How is a shoulder injury valued? Important considerations in this regard include:

  • What the Jury may award to the plaintiff
  • How much the defendant is willing to pay
  • If the case is settled before trial, what amount each side may be willing to agree upon

The major factors to consider are the extent of the plaintiff’s injury, and whether the jury is likely to find the defendant liable if the case goes to trial. It is difficult however, to accurately determine the amount a plaintiff will receive because when there is a trial, the jury are the people who decide how much money the defendant/insurance company must pay the injured plaintiff. Damages for pain and suffering are more difficult to predict because they are less concrete, whereas damages such as medical bills and lost wages that are more concrete may be easier to determine or predict.

When valuing damages in an injury case, other important considerations would be:

  • Was the plaintiff a highly active person who used to engage in a lot of sports and outdoor activities but now suffers a partially disabling shoulder injury? In such a case, his/her damages based on “loss of quality of life” could be higher in the eyes of a jury.
  • Did the plaintiff have a prior shoulder injury that made him more vulnerable to re-injury? In such a case, his/her damages may go down.
  • Has the shoulder injury temporarily or permanently prevented a plaintiff from making a living? The defendant could then be held liable for the diminished earning capacity or the full extent of lost wages.

Lawyers handling personal injury cases such as the above typically hire medical review services to perform a detailed medical records review that will help them understand the nature of the injury, the appropriateness of treatment received or sought. This is very important for them to value the injury and advise their clients accordingly. If the shoulder injury occurred at the workplace, it will be typically paid out through the employee’s state workers’ compensation system. This amount will vary from state to state according to particular standards of compensation in each state.

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