Shoulder Injury after Accident

October 23, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Shoulder Injury after Accident Did you sustain a shoulder injury from a car accident? Are you experiencing shoulder pain after a slip and fall? Read on to find out more about common shoulder injuries and arm injuries from car accidents.

Filing a Claim After Sustaining a Shoulder Injury

In this article, we will provide important information regarding the process of filing a claim due to a shoulder injury after a car accident. We will also go through common types of injuries and their symptoms. Drivers are at risk of sustaining these injuries every time they get behind the steering wheel, so it is important to be cognizant and properly informed concerning all aspects of the process. If you suffered a shoulder injury in a car accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation. We have helped countless accident victims who have suffered from a wide range of injuries move ahead with their cases and pursue the maximum amount of compensation to which they are entitled.

Florida Car Accidents Can Cause Painful Shoulder Injuries

Sustaining a shoulder injury after a traumatic accident is common. The shoulder is a very complex part of the body. Shoulder injuries are not always diagnosed in a timely matter, as it can be difficult to determine the source of the pain. Many people suffer from shoulder pain or problems either immediately or shortly after a variety of Florida accidents. For example, common sources of shoulder injuries include: The severe trauma to the shoulder joint caused by the impact of a car accident causes the body to absorb a percentage of that impact. This can result in several different types of shoulder injuries. A shoulder injury can radically impair mobility and lead to chronic pain, so it's crucial for shoulder injuries to be treated promptly. It is very common for the insurance company to deny claims, stating that the pain that car accident victims are complaining of is actually due to a former injury. The best course of action to defeat this type of claim or allegation is to seek immediate and consistent medical treatment for evidence of the alleged shoulder injury.

Symptoms of Shoulder Injuries After a Florida Car Crash

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones. These bones include the: (i) scapula (shoulder blade), (ii) clavicle (collar bone) and (iii) arm bone (humerus). The bones are joined together by soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsules. Together, these soft tissues form a platform allowing for the arm to function properly. The shoulder joint also has the greatest range of motion out of any joint in the body. Due to this wide range of mobility, the shoulder is more susceptible to injury when compared to other areas of the body. It is extremely important to address the pain that may follow such a personal injury due to the process and the cost of treatment. Recovery time can be prolonged without the proper diagnoses and supplemental required treatment.

Examples of Common Shoulder Injury Symptoms:

  • An agonizingly tender and stiff shoulder that hurts more at night, potentially interrupting sleeping
  • Tingling, lack of feeling, weakness, or inflammation in the shoulder
  • Shoulder pain in a precise area that may worsen with physical exertion
  • Trouble moving arm or arms in any direction without pain
  • Sudden, concentrated pain in the shoulder area
  • Pale, blue, or otherwise discolored shoulder area
Physiotherapist applying kinesiology tape for painful shoulder

Types of Car Accident Shoulder Injuries

According to OrthoInfo, shoulder injuries generally fall under three categories of physical impairment. These include fractures, dislocations, and soft-tissue injuries. Fractures are broken bones that, for shoulder injuries, commonly involve the clavicle, proximal humerus (top of the upper arm bone), and scapula. Shoulder dislocations occur when the bones on opposite sides of a joint do not line up. Finally, soft tissue injuries are tears of the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and joint capsule of the shoulder such as rotator cuff tears and labral (SLAP) tears. This blog post will highlight specific injuries that apply to each type of shoulder injury in the following discussion. We will conclude this section by briefly describing common neck injuries, particularly whiplash injuries, which are often directly related to shoulder injuries after being in a car accident.

Florida Car Accidents Can Cause Clavicle Fractures and Proximal Humerus Fractures

Fractures of the clavicle or the proximal humerus can be caused by a direct blow to the area from a fall, collision, or motor vehicle impact. Most fractures are diagnosed by conducting X-rays of the affected area and by performing a physical examination. Sometimes, additional imaging techniques, such as CT scans, are necessary for a personal injury claim.
  • For clavicle fractures, swelling at the middle of the collarbone area is often apparent. This area tends to have a “bump,” which is the prominent end of the fracture under the skin. The shoulder range of movement is limited, although such a limitation is not quite as stark as what is commonly experienced with fractures of the proximal humerus.
  • For proximal humerus fractures, a severely swollen shoulder will be prominent. Such fractures affect a more durable bone when compared to the collarbone area. There is very limited movement associated with this type of shoulder fracture, and consequently, much more severe pain.
Both of these types of fractures can usually be treated without surgery. However, surgery may be necessary if a compound fracture has broken through the skin, or the bone is severely out of place or position. It may also be necessary if the fractured fragments of bone require plates, screws, or pins to fix. In extreme cases, a shoulder replacement may be the solution.

Dislocations Can Damage Acromioclavicular Joints (AC Joints)

The acromioclavicular joint is where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the highest point of the shoulder blade (acromion). After studying countless injuries throughout the years, it has been concluded that the most common cause for a separation of the AC joint is from a direct fall onto the shoulder. This type of fall causes an injury to the ligaments which serve to frame and stabilize the AC joint. If the power of the fall is severe enough, the ligaments attached to the underside of the clavicle are torn. This type of tear causes a separation of the collarbone and wing bone. The wing bone essentially moves downward, sinking from the weight of the arm. This creates a bump or bulge above the shoulder. An AC joint injury can range from a minor change in configuration with mild pain to an injury-causing deformity and resulting pain that is extreme and excruciating.

Diagnosing an Acromioclavicular Joint Injury

When such an injury causes a deformity, the injury is relatively easy to identify. Conversely, when there is a little deformity that is apparent, the precise location of the pain along with the help of X-rays function to determine the exact diagnosis. One of the ways that doctors provide a precise diagnosis of such an injury is by having the patient hold a weight in their hand on the side of the possible site of injury. By doing so, the potential injury and deformity are much more apparent and easier to identify. A mild AC injury usually involves a sprain of the AC ligament that does not move or alter the collarbone and appears normal on X-rays. A more serious form of this injury occurs when there is a tear of the AC ligament, and sprains in cases of slight tears to the coracoclavicular (CC) ligament. The resulting injury usually manifests by putting the collarbone out of alignment to some extent. The most severe form of shoulder separation completely tears both the AC and CC ligaments. This noticeably and completely puts the AC joint out of proper alignment and out of position. The treatment for this type of injury can be nonsurgical or surgical in nature.

Treating an AC Joint Shoulder Injury

Nonsurgical treatments, such as a sling, cold packs, and medications can help to manage the pain. The doctor may also try other ways to support the injury so that it heals correctly with little to no resulting deformity. A large percentage of people who sustain this type of shoulder injury return to nearly or full functionality, despite sustaining a deformity. There may be continued pain over time, but the functionality of the arm is usually returned to being close to normal. If the pain is persistent and proves to be impossible to live with, surgical treatment is available. Surgical treatment can help restore not only the look of the area before the injury but also minimize any long-term effects and symptoms. Overall, both treatments will necessitate therapy to restore and rebuild motion, strength, and flexibility.

Soft Tissue Shoulder Injuries Include Rotator Cuff Tears & SLAP Tears

A soft tissue injury is composed of tears to the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and the joint capsule of the shoulder. Both rotator cuff tears and SLAP tears can have serious complications following an accident or other personal injury. Shoulder injuries involving soft tissue damage are more common than bone injuries. However, the diagnosis is more difficult to distinguish. MRIs can be used to confirm the diagnosis but there needs to be a correlation between pain to injury. As such, it's better to be fully informed regarding the symptoms and causes of each type of tear.

Rotator Cuff Tears Can Be Debilitating Shoulder Injuries

The rotator cuff is a larger tendon comprised of four muscles that combine to form a cuff over the upper end of the arm. These four muscles include the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor. A rotator cuff tear may be due to an acute injury, such as a fall. In other cases, chronic wear and tear causes degeneration of the tendon from physical activities such as baseball or construction work. The pain in a rotator cuff tear is normally felt in the front of the shoulder and radiates down the arm. The pain may appear in various instances, such as when an individual is trying to sleep on the side of the injury, or in the form of difficulty performing routine activities during everyday life. In any case, the acute pain can usually be described as causing a snapping sensation as well as direct weakness of the arm. This rotator cuff tear injury can worsen over time if it is not addressed promptly by a qualified medical professional with the proper corresponding treatment. Whether the doctor recommends anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, or surgery following persistent pain or weakness in the shoulder, rehabilitation plays a critical role in both the non-surgical and surgical treatment of a rotator cuff tear.

SLAP Tears May Limit Range of Motion and Strength

A SLAP shoulder injury refers to an injury to the labrum of the shoulder. SLAP stands for Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. This area of the upper arm's head fits into a rounded socket in the shoulder blade, formally known as a ball-and-socket joint. Surrounding the edge of the socket is a rim of strong, fibrous tissue typically referred to as the labrum. This tissue functions to help deepen the socket and to stabilize the shoulder joint. It also serves as an attachment point for many of the shoulder ligaments and one of the tendons from the bicep muscles in the arm. Injuries to this area of the shoulder can be caused by acute trauma or by repetitive shoulder motion. Acute trauma can be caused by auto accidents, slip and falls, forceful pulling of the arm as well as shoulder dislocation. Repetitive shoulder motion can cause SLAP injuries due to continuous stress. People who participate in sports involving a lot of overhead movements, such as weightlifters, can experience this injury. Similar to the rotator cuff, this injury has telltale symptoms such as a decreased range of motion and shoulder strength, as well as pain with movement. For these injuries, both nonsurgical treatment and surgical treatment are available. This can range from non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication to arthroscopy. The doctor will determine the best option depending on the severity of the injury and the resulting pain. Overall, rehabilitation will involve physical therapy to rebuild the strength in the affected area.

Whiplash Injuries May be Connected to Pain Between Shoulder Blades

Whiplash is typically caused due to the sudden and violent movement of the head jolting forward and quickly stopping. It is most commonly sustained following a car accident, even in cases where the car accident victims were properly wearing seat belts. In some instances, the seatbelt may actually worsen the impact and the resulting injuries caused by whiplash.

Neck/Back Pain From Whiplash Injuries Can Radiate Through the Shoulders

Traditionally, whiplash injuries will commonly cause neck and back pain which will then move down to the shoulders and arms. It may manifest in the form of neck pain and stiffness, limited range of mobility of the injured area, tingling, and numbness of the injured area. In severe cases, may cause serious damage to the soft tissues present in the neck area, including muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Most often, such car accident injuries are treated with non-surgical treatment, including but not limited to pain management, physical therapy, and medication, as necessary. Treatment is determined by your medical professional depending upon the specific circumstances and details present in your case.

How Chiropractors Treat Shoulder Pain Following An Auto Accident

One effective and common form of treatment following an accident involving shoulder pain is chiropractic treatment. This type of treatment is non-surgical in nature. It may involve the use of a diverse range of techniques aimed at treating and minimizing shoulder, neck and back pain, and injuries resulting from a car accident. Chiropractors may utilize a spinal adjustment technique to alleviate common shoulder injuries. This involves the realignment of the spinal vertebrae, helping to improve and increase the range of motion and reduce joint pressure. In turn, this helps with reducing pain and discomfort. Massage therapy techniques increase and restore blood flow to affected areas of the body and can also serve to improve the range of mobility in the shoulder blade, upper arm, and other affected areas. Finally, chiropractors may direct the patient to perform a series of exercises and stretches as part of their physical therapy and rehabilitation process, which will also help the patient to regain strength and mobility in the shoulder and other injured areas of the body. Man compresses his shoulder, pain in the shoulder. Shoulder close-up

Shoulder Injury Diagnosis After a Florida Car Crash

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder after a car accident, you should see an orthopedic surgeon to fully diagnose the extent of your injury. If you're not sure if your shoulder is injured or just sore from the accident, think about the following three questions:
  • Is your shoulder stiff? Can you rotate your shoulder and move your arm in the normal way you would have before the crash?
  • Do you feel as if you might pop your shoulder out of the socket when moving it around?
  • Is your sore shoulder weak enough that daily activities have become difficult?
If any of the above scenarios apply to you, your shoulder was likely injured during the course of the accident. Listen to your body and be cognizant of all symptoms, it knows and usually alerts you when something is wrong.

Shoulder Injury Tests Can Determine Type and Severity of Injury

When an orthopedic doctor is examining a patient for shoulder injuries, they will perform a series of physical examinations, or tests, that are used to determine the extent and the location of an injury. This physical examination typically involves looking for visual abnormalities, moving the shoulder into certain positions, and receiving feedback from the patient regarding their pain and discomfort levels. When it comes to locating a specific shoulder injury, there are over a hundred physical tests that orthopedic doctors perform to properly diagnose and evaluate the injury. These include the Mazion Shoulder Maneuver, Dugas, Anterior Load and Shift, Rowe Test, and Jerk Test, to name a few. For a full list of orthopedic shoulder tests and the corresponding injuries which they diagnose, please visit

What Does a Shoulder Injury Test Look Like?

Most shoulder injury tests consist of examining the range of motion of both shoulders. This is usually accomplished by utilizing multiple positions, including sitting, lying down, and standing. These tests are commonly comprised of the patient moving their shoulder on their own, as well as the doctor moving the patient's shoulder for them. They are designed to evaluate resistance, strength, and pain levels, allowing the doctor to efficiently and accurately assess the injury. The orthopedic surgeon will also examine the patient's sense of feeling in their shoulders, arms, and hands, as well as the blood flow to each of these areas. This light physical pressure, combined with the process of measuring the patient's pulse can help a physician to precisely locate the injury. Since shoulder pain can often be a result of other related injuries, a good orthopedic doctor will also examine the patient's spine, neck, and chest to be sure that these areas are not primarily responsible for generating the patient's specific pain and injury.

Shoulder Injury Imaging Can Be Used for Diagnostic Purposes

Just like any other physical injury to a bone or muscle, imaging is commonly used to diagnose shoulder injuries by giving physicians an internal look at the shoulder and any possible injuries. The most commonly used forms of imaging are the X-ray, MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound.

X-raying a Shoulder Injury

A standard X-ray is still a common way to image for injuries since they are relatively inexpensive and effective. These two-dimensional images can be used to view:
  • The space between the joints
  • Location of cartilage
  • Abnormal growths, like bone spurs
  • Fractures in the bone
Sometimes, doctors will inject a contrast dye into the shoulder so that it will appear more clearly on the X-ray. This process is referred to as arthrography.

MRI of a Shoulder Injury

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, commonly known as an MRI, has overtaken X-rays to become the most common imaging method of choice for severe shoulder injuries. This is because this type of imaging can produce much more detailed, 3D images of the shoulder structures, including very small tendons, vessels, muscle tears, and fractures. Similar to the X-ray, a dye may be the radiologist may use a dye or contrasted images.

CT Scan of Shoulder Injury Can provide Greater Detail

‘CT scan' stands for computed tomography scan. It may also be called a ‘CAT scan', which is short for computerized axial tomography. This imaging technique combines a traditional X-ray with computer technology to produce multiple images, which, by utilizing specialized software, are used to create a cross-sectional view of the shoulder structure. CT scans are most helpful for diagnosing minute fractures and soft-tissue damage.

Shoulder Injury Ultrasounds Can Reveal Soft Tissue Damage

Ultrasonography is most commonly thought of as a way of viewing the fetus of a pregnant woman. However, this sound wave test can also be used on other parts of the body to examine shoulder tendons and muscles as they actively move around. The other types of tests have a hard time doing this effectively. The ultrasound is limited in its use, however, as it is unable to distinguish and identify any type of bone damage.

How is the Value of a Shoulder Injury Claim Evaluated?

Properly evaluating a shoulder injury case typically involves an analysis of all aspects of a case and its details. The purpose is to predict what a jury may ultimately award the injured party, while simultaneously considering what the at-fault party may be willing and/or able to pay. All of this information must also be weighed against the strength of the case overall. Additionally, you must consider each party's willingness to either settle the case or take their chances at trial, depending on the particular facts involved in the personal injury case. Evidently, this type of evaluation involves many factors and circumstances, but two broad categories of consideration include:
  • the nature and extent of the injured party's injuries, losses, and resulting damages (comprised of everything ranging from medical bills, lost wages and earning capacity, pain and suffering, etc.) and their corresponding valuations
  • the likelihood that the at-fault party would be found liable for the plaintiff's injuries, for purposes of (i) properly evaluating the likelihood and amount of a potential settlement, and (ii) whether a jury would find the defendant liable should the case ultimately proceed to trial.

Why Should I Hire Dolman Law Group to Represent Me?

As personal injury lawyers, we have negotiated maximum compensation for a variety of serious car accident injuries. We understand that a shoulder injury is often more than just an inconvenience. It can compromise your ability to work and take care of your family, in addition to inflicting significant pain. When you have so much to lose, you need a trustworthy team to take on the insurance company. Our clients recognize our commitment to their plights and the successful record to qualify for this position. A few of our recent results include:
  • 1.75 million for a truck accident client with a shoulder injury
  • 750 thousand for a motorcycle accident client with a torn rotator cuff
Aside from obtaining medical evidence, there are many other essential resources that are required for a shoulder injury case that only an experienced personal injury attorney can aid with. Additionally, many misconceptions and false information are provided to people injured in car accidents. A personal injury lawyer from Dolman Law Group can assist you in obtaining reliable information and help protect your rights.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Should Injury Claim

If you have experienced a shoulder injury as a result of someone else's negligent act, you may be entitled to recover compensation. The seasoned personal injury lawyers of Dolman Law Group have the skills and work ethic to negotiate a fair settlement that covers your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. In the event that we need to take your shoulder injury claim to trial to secure a fair settlement, our team has the experience to succeed. You can depend on our legal insight to guide you throughout the personal injury claims process. As a first step after being injured in an accident and experiencing shoulder pain, contact the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for the purpose of knowing your rights and what benefits you're eligible for that insurance companies may try to deny you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation and free consultation regarding your claim. Our number is (727) 451-6900. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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