Shoulder Injury From a Car Accident

Shoulder injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents but can occur from other types of negligence, such as a work injury or slip and fall. Because the shoulder has a wide range of motion, it is used multiple times during the day. An accident that immobilizes or damages the shoulder can have an impact on daily life, making it difficult for the injury victim to perform ordinary tasks.

Shoulder Pain from Car Accident - Law Offices of David Azizi

Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident

If a sore shoulder after a car accident was caused by another’s negligent actions, a personal injury lawyer experienced in handling such injuries can help you get the compensation you need for the time you’ve lost at work, medical costs and other expenses.

Bones That Make Up the Shoulder

The glenohumeral joint is the primary shoulder joint. The humerus or arm bone rests in a socket that is shallow and called the glenoid. The shoulder bones are held together by muscles, ligaments and other tissues, which give it the maneuverability and strength to perform tasks. Other parts of the shoulder include:

  • Clavicle: This bone is commonly called the collarbone. This is the bone that is broken most commonly in a motor vehicle crash by the seat belt.
  • Acromion: This is the name for the top of the shoulder blade.
  • Humeral head: The rounded top of the arm bone that fits into the glenohumeral joint, it has a rounded shape and rests against the socket of the shoulder.
  • Scapula: This is the medical name for the shoulder blade.

Other Important Parts of the Shoulder

The fibers, ligaments and other tissues that work in conjunction with the shoulder bones are what provide ease of movement and strength. When any of these are damaged, the individual may lose range of motion and have pain and swelling. These parts include:

  • Rotator cuff: The rotator cuff helps to stabilize the shoulder and is made up of tendons and muscles. Commonly injured in accidents, the rotator cuff helps to move the shoulder.
  • Capsule: The shoulder capsule consists of a flat group of fibers that surround the joint. While the fibers help aid the stability of the shoulder, they are flexible, assisting in a range of different movements.
  • Synovium: The synovium is a lining for the capsule. This important part of the shoulder provides joint lubrication and keeps the bones from rubbing together.
  • Cartilage: Cartilage is a substance that covers the ends of the bones, such as the glenoid and humeral head. Because it cushions the bones, the joint can be moved without pain.

Common Shoulder Injuries From Car Accidents

Pain, numbness, limited range of movement, lack of strength and other signs can indicate a shoulder injury. Injuries that are caused by an accident, particularly in a motor vehicle crash, may be due to one of the following:

  • Dislocated Shoulder: When a shoulder dislocates, it comes out of its socket. Symptoms include swelling, bruising, weakness and pain. Seeing a physician right away to have it put back into place is important since symptoms can worsen. Afterward, while the pain and swelling may diminish rather quickly, it may be 12 to 16 weeks before the injury is healed. During that period, extra caution must be observed because the joint will be more likely to dislocate again during this time. Some patients must use a brace that helps prevent this from happening. However, a brace might cause other problems, such as weakness.
  • Fractures: Broken bones are common in motor vehicle collisions but can result from a fall from a ladder or other accidents. Cracks, simple breaks and fractures where the bone extends through the skin can occur. In motor vehicle crashes, broken collarbones are common, as well as fractures of the humerus. A fractured collarbone can mean that the injury victim cannot lift their arm and the shoulder can sag. In some fractures, the individual wears a sling until it heals. However, in more complicated fractures, surgical intervention may be necessary to realign the bones. Treatment of a humerus fracture depends on the type of break and whether nerve damage is involved.
  • Rotator Cuff: An injury to the rotator cuff generally involves a tear or strain. Quick medical care is needed if the rotator cuff is injured in an accident. Severe damage can require a joint replacement, transplant of tendons or other type of surgical repair. Symptoms of rotator cuff damage can include arm weakness, a dull achy feeling in the shoulder, problems sleeping due to discomfort and difficulty reaching the top of your head or behind the back.
  • Cartilage Injuries: Referred to by physicians as a glenoid labrum tear, this is a common sports injury but can be caused by falls or other types of accidents. It occurs when a tear appears in the socket itself. Weakness and pain are symptoms, but the injured person may also feel a catch when moving the arm or a grinding or locking sensation. Diagnosis is through MRI or CT scan using an injected contrast medium. Arthroscopic surgery can confirm the diagnosis. If it is determined that the biceps tendon is unstable, sutures, tacks or screws may be used to repair it. Healing can take from four to six months.

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The Impact of Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident

Due to the shoulder’s prominent role in physical activity, an injury can cause significant harm, both physically and financially. It might cause the inability to sustain gainful employment. Some workers are not able to recover sufficiently. Even with extensive surgery and long periods of physical therapy, the person’s ability to use the shoulder fully can be curtailed.

Since an injury damages the shoulder’s range of motion and strength, it is necessary to ensure that compensation for medical procedures now and in the future, as well as lost wages, be compensated.

For some, returning to work may mean that they will be unable to work at the same job and the new one may pay considerably less. This must be factored into the compensation going forward. Even if workers’ compensation is involved, additional damages may be sought against a third party. Your personal injury lawyer can help by reviewing your case and determining if this is possible.

Shoulder Injury Car Accident Compensation

Shoulder injury from a car accident can cause lifelong problems that restrict movement of this vital joint and cause untoward damage to your ability to work. When someone else’s negligence caused the injury, you should not have to pay for the financial damage it causes. It is bad enough that you are already paying for physical harm you’ve experienced.


If you are experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, we can help. The Law Offices of David Azizi can provide you a free review of your important shoulder injury claim to help you achieve justice and fair compensation. For a trusted car accident lawyer, contact us online or call (800) 991-5292.