Rotator Cuff Injuries
Rotator cuff injuries are among the most painful crash-related conditions, and they can take an extensive time to heal. Fort Myers injury attorneys at The Garvin Law Firm work to help those diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury after a serious crash.
According to The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the rotator cuff is comprised of a group of four muscles that form a "cuff" over the head of the humerus, which is your upper arm bone. These are the muscles and tendons that allow you to lift and rotate the arm, as well as stabilize the ball of the shoulder within the joint.Why Rotator Cuff Injuries Happen in Car Crashes
A significant portion of rotator cuff injuries we handle occur in motor vehicle crashes or falls.
In a fall, it's usually the result of someone trying to catch themselves by extending their arms to protect the head and abdomen. If they hit at an angle, this can cause traumatic injury to one of those four rotator cuff muscles.
The reason they are also common in crashes has to do with safety devices installed to protect us: Primarily, seat belts and airbags. These devices can put unusual stress on the joints of the shoulder, which can lead to tears and other injuries.
Such an injury may not be immediately apparent, but there are some telltale signs. Examples include:
- Pain when lifting the arm;
- Pain when lowering the arm from a fully-raised position;
- Weakness when rotating or lifting the arm;
- A "cracking" sensation when the arm is moved into certain positions.
You may have some acute pain if there is a tear, as well as immediate weakness. In many cases, however, it may start as a dull pain that gradually radiates up the arm and into the shoulder, with pain worsening over hours or even days. Pain while sleeping is another indication, as we often sleep on our arms or shoulders without realizing it.
Rotator cuff injuries in children are often overlooked too. They should immediately be treated by a doctor. If no injury is diagnosed immediately, but pain, swelling and range of motion persist despite rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE), parents/ guardians should seek medical treatment for their child.Pre-Existing Condition Rotator Cuff Injuries
Although traumatic occurrences such as a crash or nursing home fall can certainly cause a rotator cuff injury, in some cases we're dealing with a pre-existing condition - one that's been documented previously by a medical professional. In fact, this is among the most common defenses in crash-related rotator cuff injuries. That's because the majority of rotator cuff tears result from overuse.
There are two approaches we can take here:
- The injury was not pre-existing and the crash was directly causal, which we prove with previous medical records and work history records.
- The injury was pre-existing and/or chronic, but the crash exacerbated or aggravated the injury to a significant degree.
The strategy we employ will depend on the specific facts of your case. Your receiving regular medical treatment for your pre-existing condition should establish an effective paper trail that can show us the crash made your injury worse. This falls under legal precedent known as the "eggshell rule" or sometimes "think skull rule." This is a legal, common law doctrine holding that one's unexpected frailty is not a defense for the seriousness of injury caused. So even if you do have a pre-existing rotator cuff injury, the negligent driver is still responsible to the extent his/ her actions resulted in the condition's worsening.
The exception to this would be "intervening cause," which can be a complicating factor in your injury lawsuit. For example, if you don't seek immediate medical treatment and then return days later with an acute rotator cuff injury, the defense for other driver has an opportunity to argue it wasn't the crash that caused your acute injury, but rather some intervening cause.
Recognize that auto insurers are only looking to minimize their payout to you. Their questions are designed to uncover this kind of evidence. Never be dishonest, but instead say you wish to cooperate, but will be referring all medical questions to your injury attorney (even if you have not already hired one).
These injuries may require surgical and non-surgical treatment (typically physical therapy). If one heavily relies on the use of the arms and hands for work (as most do), there may be a period of disability, for which the insurers involved may be compelled to pay.
Our Fort Myers injury attorneys are committed to assisting those who have sustained rotator cuff injuries in a crash to recover the damages to which they are entitled.
Call or email the Garvin Law Firm today for a free consultation and we will evaluate your claim and determine the appropriate course of action. We have offices in Fort Myers, Naples, and Key West. We have been handling auto accident cases in Fort Myers, Florida for over 30 years.