The cartilage of the shoulder joint is the labrum. The labrum is the disc of cartilage that lines the glenoid. It stabilizes the joint and limits excessive movement of the humerus. Additionally, it keeps the glenoid and the humerus together.
Many different types of injuries can require arthroscopic shoulder surgery, which is where a surgeon repairs the shoulder by making several small incisions in the joint to insert a camera and tools.
For example, rotator cuff tears, labral tears, and impingement syndrome may all be treated arthroscopically. Approximately four million patients seek medical attention in the United States each year for shoulder injuries. Shoulder arthroscopy is performed on 1.4 million people annually.
Shoulder Injuries Heal Poorly Which Impacts Settlement Payouts
Many things about shoulder injuries are unique and have an impact on the appropriate compensation payout for victims.
Let's start with the joint itself. The shoulder joint is the least constrained joint in our bodies. For example, your hip joint fits concentrically into a socket. The mobile shoulder joint does not concentrically fit. The socket is flat and the ball is round.
What does this mean? The shoulder joint really needs functional soft tissues around it - the rotator cuff, the labrum, capsule, and so forth - to provide stability to the shoulder joints. What this means is that normal shoulder functionality requires a lot of moving parts to work well together.
The other important thing to understand about the shoulder when it comes to putting a settlement value on these injuries is that tendons, ligaments, tendons in the shoulder are poorly vascularized. This means the shoulder does not get sufficient blood supply. This impedes the healing process. The result is often poor and incomplete healing after a motor vehicle crash. A soft tissue shoulder injury usually heals with no scarring or last injury.
These challenges in healing a shoulder injury often result in progressive deterioration of the shoulder over time that can lead to shoulder arthroplasty in the future that may or may not be successful. Frozen shoulder is also a common secondary complication from car crashes.
These complications and future challenges need to be baked into the settlement calculus. They often are not if you do not have a personal injury lawyer who can hold the defendant's feet to the fire.
Finally, serious shoulder injuries are difficult to diagnose. Injuries like, for example, a tear of the cartilaginous labrum of the joint, are often difficult to see on an MRI. So are cartilage defects. Defense lawyers like to pretend things that because something cannot be fully seen with radiographic testing, it does not exist.
It is our job as plaintiffs' shoulder injury lawyers to solve this problem by making these injuries come to life with the insurance company and, if necessary, a jury.
Victims know that their attorney is not going to help them heal. Our job is to get as much money for our clients as we possibly can. Clearly, permanent shoulder injuries will have a greater settlement value than injuries that fully resolve. Higher-energy or high-level cases where the property damage to the vehicles is high is also going to be a driver of settlement value.
The average shoulder injury verdict approaches $100,000. Shoulder injury cases often settle for much less. Insurance companies and even car accident attorneys habitually undervalue these cases. Why? Because they do consider challenges that are specific to shoulder injuries.
One injury that is often a battlefield is a torn labrum. A labral tear is more commonly seen in workers' compensation cases from repetitive stress. But a labrum tear can also occur from car, truck and motorcycle accidents. Our shoulder injury lawyers in Baltimore are more likely to need to file suit in accident cases like this.
- This page focuses specifically on the settlement value of rotator cuff shoulder injury cases
- Settlement amounts for arm injury cases
These case outcomes are instructive in helping you understand the value of these claims. But they are just one tool of many and, used alone, are not predictive of the value of an individual case.
- 2020, Maryland: $310,505 Verdict: A 50-year-old woman is struck in the Arundel Mills Mall parking lot. She experience significant neck and shoulder pain. Four months earlier, she underwent a multi-level cervical fusion. Her imaging studies reveal slight spinal changes. The woman receives chiropractic and physical therapy. Still, she claims permanent neck and shoulder pain. She testified that the collision prevented a full surgical recovery. She settled with the liability insurer for $30,000 but continued with an underinsured motorist claim against Allstate. A Prince George’s County jury saw the case her way and gave her a $310,505 payout.
- 2019, Maryland: $220,000 Settlement: Our client is hit when the defendant's vehicle attempts to make a U-turn in front of his motorcycle. He drives himself to a Baltimore-area hospital. After a few weeks of therapy, his doctor recommends an arthroscopy that includes a rotator cuff repair, subacromial decompression, and biceps tenodesis (tendon repair). The defendant offers $98,000 to settle the case. Our law firm files suit and the offer ultimately increases to $220,000. The defendant's policy was $250,000.
- 2019, Maryland $86,633 Verdict: A 78-year-old pedestrian was struck at a Baltimore intersection. She tore her left rotator cuff and biceps tendon. The woman also had her pre-existing back condition aggravated. She underwent physical therapy and painkilling injections. The woman also took pain medications. Her physicians testified that she reached her maximum medical improvement. The woman alleged that the driver’s failure to yield to a pedestrian caused her permanent injuries. A Baltimore City jury awarded $86,633.
- 2019, Maryland: $120,429 Verdict: A 73-year-old man was rear-ended. He suffered a concussion and soft-tissue left shoulder, neck, and right rib injuries. The man also experienced the aggravation of his pre-existing degenerative lumbar condition. He has physical therapy and steroid injections. The man’s soft-tissue symptoms resolved, but not his lower back ones. His treating physiatrist testified that his injuries were permanent, collision-related, and required future surgeries. The man alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused them. The defense contested this allegation. They argued that the man’s injuries were pre-existing and degenerative. The Montgomery County jury ruled in the man’s favor and awarded $120,429. (This case seems to be only partially related to the shoulder.)
- 2016, Maryland: $250,000 Settlement: Our client stops in heavy traffic on Route 97 in Glen Burnie and is hit from behind by a driver who is not paying attention. She has shoulder surgery and, thankfully, makes a fantastic recovery. GEICO offered their $50,000 limits, and Erie paid $200,000 in uninsured motorist coverage.
- 2014, Maryland: $315,000 Settlement. Our client was a passenger in a taxi cab that veered off the road and crashed into a ditch. An MRI revealed four torn tendons and “massive” damage to his cuff. He underwent surgery to correct the damage and was ordered to wear a protective sling for 6-8 weeks following surgery. Miller & Zois handled this case.
- 2013, Maryland: $33,000 Verdict. A 56 year-old-woman is forced off the road when the defendant exits a parking lot in front of her vehicle. The plaintiff slams into a pole and totals her car. Her rotator cuff is torn during the accident. The shoulder needs surgery, but the plaintiff is unable to afford it due to a lack of insurance. State Farm admits that its insured driver caused the accident but claims that the shoulder injury pre-existed the accident. The Montgomery County court awards the plaintiff a lump sum of $33,000.
- 2013, Maryland: $93,612 Verdict. A motorcyclist in Baltimore County sustains a partial thickness rotator cuff tear that results in permanent injury. The defendant changed lanes abruptly, and the plaintiff runs into the back of the vehicle. Plaintiff additionally suffers abrasions to his lower body and unspecific injuries to his neck and back. The driver claims that a phantom vehicle cut him off causing the swerving maneuver. A Towson jury awards the plaintiff $93,612 for his injuries.
- 2012, Maryland: $335,639 Verdict. A 50-year-old couple is injured when a construction site adjacent to their home collapses. The husband suffers a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery and eighteen months out of work. The wife receives serious lacerations around her eye that cause permanent disfiguration. The defendant had been attempting to construct a home for the past several years, and his negligent building skills resulted in the collapse. The Calvert County jury awards $335,630 when the defendant improperly answers the complaint and fails to appear at trial.
- 2012, Maryland: $43,481 Verdict. Defendant driver swerves across two lanes of traffic into the opposing road and runs head-on into plaintiff. The plaintiff receives a rotator cuff tear that requires decompression and debridement surgery. Additionally, plaintiff suffers strains of the cervicothoracic, thoracolumbar, and lumbosacral spine. The defendant disputes the necessity of the medical treatment and the causation of the injuries, but a Prince Frederick jury awards $43,481 in relief.
- 2012, Maryland: $72,162 Verdict. A 45 year-old-woman in stop-and-go traffic is sandwiched between the two defendants in an auto collision. The plaintiff sustains a painful rotator cuff injury. An Annapolis jury determines that the back defendant was the driver at fault, and the front defendant settles a separate injury claim for an undisclosed amount.
- 2012, Maryland: $ 58,000. A man in his 60s receives bilateral shoulder injuries when defendant driver turns into his lane while attempting a left turn. Defendant argues that the injuries were degenerative and predated the accident. An Ellicott City jury, however, determines one of the shoulder injuries to be related to the crash and awards $58,000.
- 2012, Maryland: $10,000. A woman sustains a cervical strain, cervical radiculopathy, and a shoulder rotator cuff tear when the defendant driver crashes into the woman’s vehicle. The defendant admits liability for the collision but denies the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. A Baltimore County jury finds for the plaintiff but awards only $10,000. Clearly, they did not buy the plaintiff's case. This same case in Baltimore City might have a very different result. Baltimore County jurors are more skeptical than Baltimore City jurors. This was true in 2012 and it is true today.
- 2012, Maryland: $5,000 Verdict. A woman is completely stopped at an intersection when the defendant driver struck her vehicle after colliding with another, non-party vehicle. Plaintiff receives a torn rotator cuff in her dominant arm and requires several months of therapy and pain treatment. Eventually, Plaintiff has surgery to repair the shoulder damage. Defendant argues that the shoulder injury came from a prior condition, and she did not experience enough pain to have torn her rotator cuff. An Upper Marlboro jury originally awards $3,826, but the payout amount is raised to $5,000 due to a high/low agreement.
The average value of a shoulder injury case is about $93,556. There are no statistics on the average settlement for a shoulder surgery lawsuit but, based on our history, our lawyers would expect the average settlement in Maryland for a surgery case to be more than $100,000.
The average rotator cuff award nationally is about $70,000.
The value of your shoulder case is generally calculated by adding up your past and future lost wages and medical bills plus your pain and suffering.
How much is your pain and suffering worth? That is the hard part. There are so many variables that go into a pain and suffering award that it is difficult to estimate without really understanding the case and the medical records, the jurisdiction, and the impact the injury had on the victim's life.
The amount of a workers compensation settlement depends on the jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the value of an on-the-job shoulder injury is going to be less than the value of a third-party tort claim against a non-employer defendant. This generalization is true whether you are paid over time or whether you receive a lump sum payment.
If you have suffered a shoulder injury in an automobile or truck accident in the Baltimore-Washington area and want to bring a claim, call one of our Maryland shoulder injury lawyers at 800-553-8082 or get a free no-obligation Internet consultation. Our attorneys have handled scores of these lawsuits. We we can help you maximize the value of your case.