Suffering a shoulder injury at work can be debilitating and devastating. It may keep you out of work and render you incapable of performing daily tasks.
Whether you were involved in a workplace accident, sustained an acute shoulder injury, or suffered a repetitive use injury, you should consult a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney.
Types of Work-Related Shoulder Injuries
There are many work-related shoulder injuries, all with varying degrees of severity. Shoulder injuries can result from an accident or wear-and-tear injuries. The most common types of shoulder injuries at work are as follows.
Shoulder fractures usually involve the collarbone, upper arm bone, or scapula (shoulder blade). An open or compound fracture—when the bone breaks through the skin—can be particularly severe.
Like other joints, it is possible to dislocate your shoulder. A dislocated shoulder occurs when the arm pops out of the shoulder socket. It usually requires a medical professional to pop it back in place.
Sometimes, you can have residual problems after a dislocation. For example, you may be more prone to future shoulder dislocations.
Rotator Cuff Tear
A torn rotator cuff is a common shoulder injury. A rotator cuff injury occurs in the tissues connecting muscle to the bone, often resulting from wear-and-tear repetitive motion.
Bursitis is inflammation of the bursae, a cushion-like fluid-filled sac in the shoulder. Like a rotator cuff injury, bursitis often occurs from wear-and-tear damage.
Causes of Work-Related Shoulder Injuries
The causes of these shoulder injuries can vary. They include:
- Slip and fall;
- Car or truck accident;
- Crush accident;
- Heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling;
- Working in constant awkward postures; and
- Repetitive movements.
The shoulder is a complex joint comprised of the humerus (arm) bone, the scapula (shoulder blade), and the clavicle (collar bone).
It also includes the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that hold it together. This complex structure is susceptible to severe and complex injuries.
Average Workers’ Compensation Shoulder Injury Settlements
What is the average workers’ comp shoulder injury settlement? There is no average settlement for a shoulder injury claim.
Every claim is unique, and the compensation will depend upon several factors, including:
- The severity of your injury,
- Time missed from work,
- Recoverability, and
- Ability to work and earn a living in the future.
The factors surrounding your accident and injury will determine the type and amount of workers’ comp benefits you may be eligible for.
Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits
Depending on your eligibility, workers’ comp shoulder injury benefits in North Carolina can include the following:
- Medical Treatment – The cost of any medical treatment associated with your work-related shoulder injury will be covered by your employer.
- Lost Wages – Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to not only cover the costs of medical treatment but compensate for the time you cannot work due to your injury.
- Vocational Rehabilitation – Sometimes, depending on your job duties and the severity of your injury, you may be unable to return to your current position. For instance, if your job requires you to lift boxes all day but your injury renders you incapable of performing that task, workers’ comp can cover the cost of training you for another position or line of work.
- Compensation for Permanent Impairment – If you are permanently injured and unable to earn a living for the remainder of your life, you can be compensated for that anticipated loss.
The type of compensation you may be eligible for will depend on the severity of your injury.
What to do After a Shoulder Injury at Work
There are specific steps you should take following a shoulder injury at work. These include the following.
Seek Medical Treatment
If you are hurt at work, always seek medical treatment immediately. Generally, your employer gets to choose the doctor you see, except for emergency room services.
If you do not require emergency medical assistance, you should still see a doctor immediately. The extent of injuries is often not immediately apparent, and you may only present with symptoms much later.
Follow your Doctor’s Orders
No matter what treatment you receive, following your doctor’s orders, including all treatment protocols and what activities to avoid, is imperative. Depending on your injury, you may be unable to perform your typical work duties.
Following your physician’s recommendations and instructions is vital to prevent further damage or the risk of being ineligible for workers’ comp benefits. Remember to keep copies of all records and bills from any medical provider.
Notify Your Employer
In North Carolina, you must notify your employer within 30 days of the injury or discovering the injury. You must also provide your employer with doctor’s orders regarding your job capabilities.
For example, if the doctor requires you to be on light duty for a time, you must immediately provide that information to your employer.
File a Claim
You must file a workers’ compensation claim (Form 18) to receive disability benefits when you cannot work.
Depending on your eligibility, disability payments can be temporary or permanent and for partial or total disability. Benefits typically cover your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages.
Workers’ Comp Shoulder Injury Attorneys
Contact us to schedule a free consultation at your convenience.