This page is about tort bicep injuries in car accident and other injury claims. Our lawyers look at how these injuries occur, and the range of jury payouts and settlement amounts for a torn bicep.
About Bicep Tear Injuries
The biceps are muscles on the front of the upper arm that are used to bend your forearms up at the elbow. The bicep attaches to the bone with three separate tendons. One tendon runs on the outside of the shoulder attaches the bicep to the top of the shoulder socket. A second tendon anchors the bicep to the inside of the shoulder socket at the shoulder blade (scapula). Finally, a third tendon attaches the bicep to the lower arm bone (radius) at the elbow.
These tendons are dense, fibrous strips of tissue. A torn bicep injury occurs when one of these tendons is partially or completely torn away from the bone. A torn bicep injury can occur either at the elbow tendon connection or either of the two tendons connecting to the shoulder. A torn biceps can also come in different degrees of severity.
Different Types and Grades of Bicep Tears
There are different types of bicep tears based on which of the bicep tendon attachments is strained or torn:
- Proximal Biceps Tear (Shoulder): a proximal bicep tear occurs when one of the two tendons attaching the bicep to the shoulder is torn or strained. The tendon running along the outside of the shoulder and attaching at the top of the shoulder socket (the “long head” tendon) is much more likely to get torn than the tendon on the inside of the shoulder (the “short head” tendon).
- Distal Biceps Tear (Elbow): a distal bicep tear occurs when the strain or tear is in the tendon connecting the bicep to the forearm at the elbow. This type of torn bicep is far less common. It most often occurs when the extended elbow is impacted by a significant force (such as the collapsing dashboard in a head-on auto accident).
A torn bicep injury is classified into one of three grades of severity based on how extensive or complete the tendon tissue is damaged and other physical criteria.
A Grade 1 bicep tear is considered a “strain” and it occurs when the tendon is overstretched but does not get detached from the bone. Usually very minimal loss of mobility and strength.
Occurs when the tendon is partially but not fully detached from the bone. Can cause some degree of mobility and strength loss.
When the tendon attachment ruptures or tears completely away from the bone. This is the most severe type of bicep tear and it causes mobility loss and often requires surgical repair.
Causes of Torn Bicep Injuries
A bicep tear can be caused either by chronic overuse or by acute physical trauma such as in an accident. When the shoulder or arm is stretched or torn in an auto accident it can cause an acute tear of the biceps at the shoulder (proximal bicep tear). This type of tear in an accident almost always occurs in the long head tendon (on the outside of the shoulder). Biceps tears at the elbow (distal bicep tear) can be caused by auto accidents or by workplace injuries (such as lifting something very heavy).
Diagnosing a Torn Bicep
A torn bicep injury is preliminarily diagnosed by a doctor based on medical history, symptoms, and physical examination of the arm. The physical examination alone will often not be able to rule other similar shoulder and arm injuries (such as a torn rotator cuff). The doctor’s initial diagnosis will usually be confirmed with an X-ray and possibly an MRI. The MRI is the only conclusive way to establish whether the bicep tear involves a complete or only partial detachment of the tendon.
Car Accidents That Lead to Bicep Injuries
These tendons can be damaged or torn in car accidents due to several factors:
- Sudden Impact: The force generated in a car accident, especially in front-end or side-impact collisions, can abruptly and forcefully extend the arm, leading to overstretching or tearing of the bicep tendons.
- Seatbelt Injuries: Wearing a seatbelt is crucial for safety, but it can also lead to bicep injuries. During a collision, the seatbelt may restrain the upper body while the lower arm continues to move forward, potentially causing bicep tendon damage.
- Airbag Deployment: Airbags deploy at high speeds to protect occupants, but the force can lead to injuries. If the driver’s arm is positioned in front of the airbag during deployment, the sudden inflation can cause bicep injuries.
- Bracing for Impact: In anticipation of a collision, individuals may instinctively tense their muscles and brace themselves. This action can increase the risk of bicep tendon tears due to the sudden muscular contraction.
Treatment Options for Torn Bicep
The appropriate treatment for a torn bicep injury will depend largely on the type and degree of the bicep tear. For a Grade 1 or 2 bicep tear, treatment is usually limited to rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. For more serious Grade 2 bicep tears, stronger anti-inflammatory medications might be required along with physical therapy. Physical therapy can help speed recovery and regain full range of motion and strength.
For the most serious torn bicep injuries surgery may be necessary. Surgery is always recommended in cases where the bicep tendon is completely torn away from the bone attached. Most doctors will also recommend surgery if the tendon is more than 50% torn away from the bone. Distal bicep tears at the elbow are also more likely to require surgery to make a full recovery.
Surgery for a torn biceps involves the surgical reattachment of the damaged and torn tendon to the bone. This is usually bone with some type of grafting that allows the tendon tissue to regenerate and eventually reform its attachment to the bone.
Settlement Value of Torn Bicep in Personal Injury Case
A torn bicep injury can sometimes occur in a car crash and other types of accidents that give rise to personal injury lawsuits. The average compensation payout for a torn bicep injury in a personal injury case will depend on the severity of the injury and the level of treatment required. The most serious torn bicep injuries (e.g., those requiring surgical repair) can have an average value between $40,000 to $75,000.
The best way to evaluate the potential settlement value of a torn bicep injury is to look at settlements and verdicts in prior cases involving a bicep tear and similar circumstances. Below are actual compensation awards in prior torn bicep cases.
- Hall v Prilutski (Pennsylvania 2023) – $92,302 Verdict: The plaintiff was driving in the center lane of the interstate and slowing for traffic when the defendant, who was said to be driving too fast for the traffic conditions, struck the rear of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff allegedly suffered a tear of the right biceps, a torn rotator cuff, and cervical disc injuries resulting in medical expenses in excess of $20,000.
- Buhr v Houle (North Dakota 2022) – $135,543 Verdict: The plaintiff was at a social gathering at a friend’s house when the defendant tackled him and threw him to the ground with significant force. The plaintiff sued for assault claiming that he suffered tears to the right bicep and rotator cuff which required reconstructive surgery. Of course, it is hard to thin slice out the bicep tear from the rotator cuff injury in terms of how the settlement amount was calculated here.
- Jacobs v Integrity Prop. & Casualty (Wisconsin 2021) – $77,000 Verdict: The plaintiff, a 55-year-old self-employed truck driver, claimed to suffer a torn biceps tendon and a rotator cuff tear requiring surgery and resulting in permanent partial mobility when his tractor-trailer was struck on the front right side. After getting a policy limits settlement with the at-fault driver, the plaintiff sought additional UIM damages from his own insurance company.
- Mitchell v Holtz (Wisconsin 2020) – $150,000 Settlement: A 67-year-old woman was T-boned and suffered left rotator cuff and bicep tears. She underwent an arthroscopic procedure with debridement. The woman’s left shoulder was 5 percent partially impaired. She experienced strength deficits and limited mobility. The defense admitted liability but contested causation. This case settled for $150,000.
- Ebrahim v. Cruz (New York 2020) – $72,371 Verdict: Plaintiff was walking down a wooden staircase when it collapsed under him. He grabbed another step to prevent his fall and suffered a right biceps tear which required surgery to repair. He sued the homeowner alleging that she failed to warn him of the hazardous staircase. The homeowner denied liability. A jury awarded him $72,371.
- D.D., Pro Ami v. Mitchell (New York 2020) – $50,000 Settlement: A pedestrian child was struck and suffered a partial biceps tear, shoulder impingement, a right elbow sprain, a hip effusion, and lower back pain. The girl’s father alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused her injuries. He claimed she failed to yield to a pedestrian and maintain an appropriate lookout. The man also made a UIM claim against GEICO.
- Richards v. Dotson (Virginia 2019) – $200,000 Verdict: A 75-year-old man was rear-ended and suffered bicep and rotator cuff tears and the aggravation of his pre-existing lumbar pain. The man alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused his injuries. He claimed he excessively sped, tailgated him, and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded the man $200,000.
- Trejos-Colonia v. Tirsa Lisboa (New Jersey 2018) – $100,000 Settlement: A 55-year-old woman was rear-ended. She suffered cervical and lumbar herniations, a rotator cuff tear, and a biceps tear. She underwent massage therapy, chiropractic care, and cortisone injections. The woman underwent a left shoulder and bicep arthroscopy. This case settled for $100,000.
- Blevins v. Clearwater (Virginia 2016) – $75,000 Settlement: A 58-year-old man tripped and fell on an unmarked brick in a hotel patio. He suffered a right shoulder dislocation, supraspinatus and infraspinatus tendon tears, a biceps tear, a glenoid labrum tear, and a synovial glenohumeral joint tear. The man underwent six months of physical therapy. He experienced difficulties reaching backward and recurring shoulder pain. This case settled for $75,000.
FAQs – Torn Bicep in Personal Injury Case
How much compensation can you get for a torn bicep?
The level of compensation you can expect for a torn bicep in a personal injury case will depend on the type and severity of the injury. The most serious types of bicep tears involve total tendon detachment and require reconstructive surgery. The typical settlement value of these cases is between $40,000 to $75,000.
What happens if you don’t fix a torn bicep?
If you don’t get any treatment for a torn bicep injury involving partial or complete detachment of the tendon from the bone, your arm will likely lose strength and mobility and could become permanently disabled.
Can a torn bicep heal on its own?
A serious bicep tear (where the tendon completely or partially detaches from the bone) will not heal on its own because the tendon will not reattach itself to the bone. Minor torn bicep injuries, where there is only a “strain” as opposed to an actual tear, will heal on their own.
How do you fix a torn bicep?
For a minor bicep tear, treatment is usually limited to rest and anti-inflammatory medications. For a Grade 2 or 3 bicep tear, surgery will often be necessary to reattach the torn tendon to the bone.
Medical Literature on Torn Biceps
- Hendy, B.A., et al. “Outcomes of chronic distal biceps reconstruction with tendon grafting: a matched comparison with primary repair.” JSES International. 5.2. (2021): 302-306. (This study compared the effectiveness of distal biceps repairs with or without allografts in treating chronic distal bicep ruptures. The researchers found that distal bicep reconstructions with grafts had comparable failure rates, reoperation rates, final motion range, and patient-reported outcomes as procedures without a graft.)
- Lynch, J., et al. “Magnetic resonance imaging versus ultrasound in diagnosis of distal biceps tendon avulsion.” Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research. 105.5. (2019): 861-866. (This study compared the effectiveness of MRIs and ultrasounds in pre-operatively diagnosing distal biceps tendon injuries. The researchers found that MRIs were about 81 percent accurate in diagnosing distal biceps avulsions, while ultrasounds were about 51 percent accurate. They concluded that MRIs were more accurate than ultrasounds. However, they also concluded that ultrasounds were more cost-effective.)
- Monfared, S.H.B., Lans, J., & Chen, N.C. “Patient Reported Outcomes of Long Head Biceps Tenodesis after Spontaneous Rupture.” Archives of Bone and Joint Surgery. 9.2. (2021): 195. (This study aimed to evaluate factors that influenced patient-reported outcomes in bicep tenodesis that followed upper biceps tendon ruptures. The researchers narrowed their data to 23 patients. They found that six reported post-operative cramping that lasted for about eight years. The researchers also found that six experienced post-operative complications that included pain, infection, stiffness, and re-rupturing. Four out of the six underwent a revision procedure. Patients who sustained a sports-related bicep tear or underwent suture anchor-assisted tenodesis reported better post-operative outcome measures.)
- Parikh, P., et al. “Distal biceps tendon rupture: Is surgery the best course of treatment? Two case reports.” Journal of Hand Therapy. (2020). (This study looked at whether surgery was necessary to repair distal bicep tears. The researchers examined two middle-aged men who underwent physical therapy for their distal bicep tears. They found that both men’s supination strength and flexion “returned to normal limits.” The researchers concluded that bicep tear patients could fully recover without surgery.)
- Penalosa, B.S., Grigoryan, G., & Syed, H.M. “Rupture of the Proximal Long Head of Biceps Tendon Presenting as a Pectoralis Major Tear: A Case Report.” JBJS Case Connector 11.1 (2021): e20. (This study looked at a 50-something man who suffered an upper biceps tendon tear and presented with pectoralis major rupture-like symptoms. The researchers found the tendon’s thick distal segment became entrapped under the pectoralis major. They concluded that upper biceps tendon tears that impact the pectoralis major could cause symptoms that resemble pectoralis major ruptures.)
Contact Miller & Zois About Your Torn Bicep Case
If you suffered a torn bicep injury in an accident, call our personal injury lawyers today to find out how much your case might be worth.