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Shoulder injury icon green illustration

Your shoulders form a huge part of your ability to move and interact with the world. Shoulder injuries are painful and often debilitating in how they affect your daily life.

Your shoulders include a component called the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is composed of a group of four muscles and their tendons, which are positioned at the shoulder joint. The name ‘rotator cuff’ comes from the fact that the muscles in this area form a cuff around the head of your upper arm bone (humerus). This cuff keeps your shoulder stable and allows full range of movement.

Everyday tasks like driving, cooking, showering, washing your hair, hanging out your washing and getting dressed can all be impacted by a shoulder injury. If you have a shoulder injury you may need to undergo treatment and rehabilitation to recover.

If you have injured your shoulder or rotator cuff in a workplace accident, a car accident, a public place accident, due to medical negligence, or some other kind of injury has happened, we can help you identify whether you can claim compensation. 

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Common shoulder injuries

Shoulder injury pain icon

Shoulder injuries can range from the moderate to the severe, depending on the nature of the injury and how it was sustained.

Common shoulder conditions, which often accompany injuries to the shoulder, include:

  • Sprain or strains of the muscles and/or tendons that form the shoulder
  • Tears in the muscles and/or tendons that form the shoulder
  • Dislocations of the joints that form the shoulder
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Fractures in the bones that form the shoulder
  • Inflammation in the soft tissue that forms the shoulder
  • Impingement syndrome (dysfunction of the shoulder, which causes abnormal wear)
  • Aggravation of degenerative changes in the shoulder joints

A shoulder injury is diagnosed in a range of ways, and you may need to get an x-ray, an ultrasound, an MRI (or other imaging test) or you may be able to be diagnosed with some tests at your doctor’s office. 

An assessment is important when you first detect symptoms of shoulder or rotator cuff injury, especially if you have suffered an injury at work, as any evidence of your injury will be used to support a workers’ compensation claim.

Common causes of shoulder injuries

Some of the most common shoulder joint and rotator cuff injuries happen due to;

  • Sudden impact - this could come from a sudden impact such as a car accident or a warehouse worker being hit from the side by a forklift.
  • Lifting and pushing - lifting objects overhead or pushing heavy objects puts a great strain on the shoulders and can lead to sprains and tears.
  • Excessive reaching - this is a common cause of rotator cuff injuries and often seen in professions such as roofers or painters.
  • Awkward positions - some professions such as electricians and plumbers often have to get into small spaces and awkward positions which puts their shoulders at risk.
  • Repetitive motions - work involving repetitive movements of the shoulder can cause bursitis.
  • Power tools and machinery - certain power tools that cause strain and vibration or road construction equipment such as pneumatic drills can place great pressure on the shoulder.
  • Slips and falls - the impact from a slip or fall can cause fractures, tears or sprains.

Shoulder and rotator cuff injuries can happen to anyone and can occur as a result of injury, or worsen due to ageing. When you have suffered a shoulder injury you will experience pain and tenderness in your shoulder, as well as possible weakness or restriction in your movements. 

There are a range of treatments that you can undergo to help manage your pain and repair the area, including physiotherapy, medical treatment, and even surgery for severe symptoms.

Compensation for shoulder injury at work

Workers with shoulder bandages

When you have injured your shoulder and the injury was suffered at work, or due to workplace activities, you may be able to claim workers compensation, through an insurer such as WorkCover. 

A report on Queensland workers’ compensation found that in 2019-20 there were 4,018 claims lodged for strains and sprains in the shoulder. Of these claims, the majority (39.6% of all claims for shoulder injuries) were in the age bracket of 45-59 years of age, although there were considerable claims for other age brackets.

Of the decisions made on claims for shoulder compensation, 95.4% were admitted into WorkCover compensation successfully. 

The average time taken to decide on whether to pay compensation through WorkCover was 8.8 days in 2018-19 which, if taken to be similar today, means that you would be able to receive a decision within two weeks for a claim for shoulder injury compensation at work.

Professions with the highest rates of compensation claims overall (not just limited to shoulder injuries) include;

  • construction
  • manufacturing
  • healthcare
  • social assistance industry.

This is largely because physical jobs that require lifting or arms to be raised often can have long term effects and reduce ability to carry out certain professions and trades.

Carpenters and tradespeople who have to lift their arms for long periods of time can often suffer shoulder injuries which require WorkCover claims.

Compensation for shoulder injury after car accident

Icon of car airbag

Car accidents are traumatic to the body. If you have been involved in a car accident and suffered a shoulder injury, whether the injury is mild, moderate, or severe, you may be able to claim compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance (CTP insurance). 

Even if you were a passenger in the vehicle, you may be eligible to claim against the driver’s CTP insurance.

  • Cyclists can claim against an at-fault driver’s CTP insurance if they are struck by a vehicle such as a car, truck or bus.
  • Pedestrians who are involved in accidents can claim against the CTP insurance of the at-fault driver.

Example: Francine is walking home from work when she is hit by a car while walking across a pedestrian crossing. She would be able to claim compensation from the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer, as well as through WorkCover as she was on a work-related journey when the accident happened.

Example: Gerry is driving and negligently hits another vehicle from behind as he is texting while driving. Gerry injures his shoulders when he hits the steering wheel, and the person driving the other car has whiplash and shoulder injuries. Gerry would not be able to claim on his CTP insurance as he was negligently responsible for the accident, but the driver of the other vehicle would be able to claim on Gerry’s CTP insurance.

Compensation for shoulder injury requiring surgery

While many shoulder injuries respond well to treatment such as pain management, physio, and other treatments, some injuries require surgery. 

If your treating physician or specialist has recommended surgery as a treatment method, you should seek legal advice on whether you may have a claim for compensation and can get funding for the medical and rehabilitation treatment from an insurer.

When you choose Murphy’s Law as your personal injury lawyer, we will ensure that all of the necessary information is put forward within your claim so that you receive the appropriate benefit.

Permanent impairment lump sum payments?

  • When you are permanently impaired or impacted by an injury, you may be eligible to seek a lump sum payment through worker’s compensation.
  • Permanent impairment means that your injury stays the same over time and is not likely to improve with further treatment.
  • If you seek surgery as a treatment option for your shoulder injury, but know that you will have loss of use of your shoulder as a result, you may be eligible to be assessed for permanent impairment and a lump sum payment.

We can help you navigate this process and ensure that you have the appropriate assessment, which includes advising on what type of specialists to see, or how to proceed with the first steps in making a claim for compensation.

How much compensation will I receive for a shoulder injury?

Icon showing calculator and paper and pen with dollar symbol to show calculation of compensation claim

Shoulder injury claims are calculated by looking at the type and extent of your injury and examining the impact that this injury has had on your life. 

If you have medical expenses and rehabilitation associated with your claim, you may be eligible to include this in your compensation payment. Similarly, if you have received care from a family member or friend, this may be compensable.

Our compensation lawyers can provide legal advice in your free initial compensation to ensure that you know what you may receive in compensation, and what you will need to do to secure an appropriate amount.

How long does a shoulder injury claim take?

How long does claim take icon

Every claim is different in that there are different causes, injuries, severity, and other related factors which must be considered as part of the claim. If your claim is relatively simple you can expect that your claim will be resolved rapidly.

  • A WorkCover claim can be approved within a couple of weeks and you will be receiving payment shortly afterwards.
  • However, if you have a lump sum payment application through WorkCover, or are looking to make a claim for personal injuries due to negligence, this will take some more time.
  • This is because such claims are relatively complex and require certain evidence of the injury to be obtained, which usually cannot happen until your shoulder injury has reached maximum medical improvement.

Medical assessments all take time, and may be costly. When you work with us, we operate on a no win no fee basis which means that you will not pay us for our service unless we are successful in securing a settlement in your favour in your claim. We can assist you with guidance on the types of medical assessments you need to do, and how to get started.

What are the time limits for a shoulder injury compensation claim?

Sand time green icon to represent time limits for compensation claims

There are strict time limits for making a claim for rotator cuff injuries and shoulder injuries. If you are claiming under WorkCover you have six months from the date of your injury, or the date of becoming aware of the injury. 

If you are making common law claims against a negligent employer, road user or other party, then you have three years in which to bring your claim for injury compensation.

We recommend speaking to our legal team today about your shoulder injury claim. We can provide a realistic assessment on things like the time-frame for receiving compensation for your injury, and what to expect as you go through the process of commencing a claim.

Posted by Sarah Truter Solicitor

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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