Torn Rotator Cuff from Fall on Landlord's Steps...

by Carol

I had written and called my landlord several times regarding a broken front step off her front porch and asked her to replace it. She said she would, later. A few months later I was coming out the front door and when I stepped down on the broken step carefully, it still caused me to fall over because it crumbled under my feet.

I fell off the porch and tried to break the fall with my hand. As a result I ended up injuring my rotator cuff, hurting my neck, and twisting my knee which is currently filled with fluid and very painful.

I've been in therapy for months and now they want an MRI to see if surgery will be my best option. They believe my rotator cuff may be torn because the months of therapy have not been successful healing me.

I'm dealing with my landlord's insurance company but I don't know what would be a reasonable settlement. I haven't worked in seven months, and was making approximately $28,000 per year prior to my injury. I may not be able to work again because of my inability to use my arm and walk without limping.

Should I deal directly with the insurance company or hire an attorney? I'm 63 years of age but enjoy working and plan on doing so for many more years. I like the extra money and besides this injury am active and have been in very good health.

What would you suggest to proceed? And what would be a reasonable settlement? Thank you for the information.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Torn Rotator Cuff from Fall on Landlord's Steps...":

Carol (Michigan):

The insurance company may question why, after you were injured so many months ago, are you or your doctors just now considering an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) examination. That's a bit like putting the "cart before the horse".

When you were first injured it would have helped your case if the rotator cuff damage was identified at that time. An injured rotator cuff can be quite painful. These many months after the original injury will make it more difficult for you to convince the insurance company of the seriousness of your injuries.

At this point, the diagnosis of an injured or torn rotator cup will undoubtedly sound a bit suspicious to the insurance company as well.

You say as a result of the injury you haven't worked in seven months. From the facts you present, that would imply you have been receiving therapy for at least seven months as well. That's a long time to go without a rotator cuff diagnosis, especially if, as a direct result of the injuries, you can't use your arm and walk without limping.

Most attorneys don't charge for an initial office consultation. You would be best served by speaking with several. They will be able to review the medical and therapeutic treatment you have been receiving, and then evaluate the merits of your claim, including what a reasonable amount of settlement might be.

Although it isn't always necessary to retain a personal injury attorney for every injury, you may need to consider one because of the delayed appearance of the rotator cuff injury.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Torn Rotator Cuff...
by: Carol, Michigan

I guess I wasn't clear regarding the injury to my rotator cuff...

I did go to the hospital emergency room with my injury and they said they thought because I had limited range of motion it could be a rotator cuff injury; that is in the report. They then suggested I see my physician.

I did and he prescribed therapy. During the therapy my therapist believed my injury was more extensive and wrote my doctor suggesting I be further evaluated.

I was then sent for an MRI following the unsuccessful therapy. So, I didn't wait a long time regarding my injury, it was only a few weeks. When it started feeling worse, I went to emergency where they diagnosed the possibility of a torn rotator cuff.

Regarding my knee, I've been injected with cortisone.

Just to clear things up...

Medical proof needed...
by: Law Guy

Carol (Michigan):

Thanks for clearing things up. We go back to the MRI...

You say you had one, but failed to tell us if the MRI identified your injury as a torn rotator cuff. You also don’t indicate whether you had an MRI examination for your knee, or if you did, what the results were. The MRI results will most likely "make or break" your case.

You tell us the following: “I've been in therapy for months and now they want an MRI to see if surgery will be my best option. They believe my rotator cuff may be torn.”

You also tell us: “I did go to the hospital emergency room with my injury and they said they thought because I had limited range of motion it could be a rotator cuff injury”

You also say: “I was then sent for an MRI following the unsuccessful therapy.”

From the facts you present there doesn’t seem to be any proof of a rotator cuff injury other than conjecture from the therapist and doctor. You need hard proof through medical exams, including the MRI results.

Without any proof of a torn rotator cuff your injuries appear to be “soft tissue” injuries. Insurance companies usually offer a good deal less for soft tissue injuries.

Whether you decide to continue to represent yourself or retain an attorney is up to you. Certainly you have a claim for your lost wages, out of pocket expenses such as prescription and over the counter medications, crutches, or other medical assist items. You also have a claim for pain and suffering / emotional distress.

The question will be how much does the insurance company think your claim is worth?

If you want to continue to represent yourself, put together a list of your medical bills to date, receipts for your out of pocket expenses, and verification of your lost wages. Then demand from the insurance company compensation in an amount of 3 -4 times your combined damages. That amount will automatically include compensation for your mental anguish, etc.

If you aren’t satisfied with the insurance company’s response negotiate as best you can. Explain to them the pain you’ve been suffering for so log and how your injuries have had such an impact on your life and career.

If you still aren’t satisfied you should seek the advice and counsel of a personal injury attorney. As we suggested last time, most won’t charge any fee for an initial consultation.

BE CAREFUL. The State of Michigan has a 3 year Statute of Limitations on personal injury cases. That means if you haven’t settled your claim or filed a lawsuit within 3 years of your injury you will lose your rights to sue.

Hope this helps.

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