Slip and Fall Shoulder Injury Claims: What You Need To Know

Here are the symptoms and outcomes of a slip and fall shoulder injury. See what you need to know to pursue fair compensation.

Whether you realize it or not, you use your shoulder joints heavily every day. They are complicated pieces of bio-machinery, keeping your large arm bones in place and bearing significant weight. They also allow you to perform fine motor functions with your hands and complete other complex tasks, like driving.

Any trauma can cause problems with the bones and soft tissues of your shoulder. When you suffer a shoulder injury in a slip and fall accident, you can lose the use of your shoulder in the blink of an eye.

Shoulder injuries can be painful. Assuming that you can control your pain and other symptoms with medication, you may need expensive and painful surgery. Even that may not be a permanent solution to your shoulder problems.

Slip and fall injuries usually happen because a property owner or renter negligently fails to fix a dangerous situation. Even when an injury is not intentional, the at-fault owner must still compensate you. The pain and loss of functionality of a shoulder injury can change your life. It may stop you from working or enjoying activities with your family.

If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall shoulder injury, read on to learn about how these accidents affect the body. This article will also examine how to get fair compensation for your losses. We’ll also look at what you might expect to recover when settling your claim or pursuing it in court.

How Slip and Fall Shoulder Injuries Happen

Diagram showing shoulder anatomy

Slip and fall accidents can happen in a variety of ways. You might slip in a store, restaurant or hotel due to a wet, slippery floor, especially on rainy or snowy days.

Uneven sidewalks, cords on the floor and poorly maintained stairs can all cause slips, trips and falls.

All these situations create unacceptable hazards that can cause you to slip and fall. The resulting trauma can cause a variety of injuries to your shoulder joint, arm bones, clavicle, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

While shoulder injuries are not typically fatal, they can be crippling. Reduced range of motion or chronic pain can interfere with every aspect of your life. In severe cases, it may reduce your ability to work or prevent you from working at all.

Different Types of Shoulder Injuries

Woman complaining to her doctor about her shoulder

Trauma to the shoulder can result in injury to the shoulder joint. It can also harm the surrounding bones and tissues.

One of the major joints in your body, the shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint between your upper arm bone (humerus) and your shoulder blade (scapula) and also includes your collarbone (clavicle) that connects to the shoulder blade.

An important group of muscles and tendons, called the rotator cuff, are responsible for supporting the shoulder joint and enabling a wide range of motion. Cushions called bursa help protect the tendons in the rotator cuff.

Common of slip and fall shoulder injuries: 

  • Rotator cuff tear: A torn rotator cuff refers to injury of four muscles surrounding your shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries from falls can cause immediate and intense pain and shoulder weakness.
  • Shoulder dislocation: A dislocated shoulder is extremely painful. It may also present a visually deformed shoulder. Though the joint can be fixed, a shoulder dislocation may make your shoulder unstable and prone to further injury.
  • Shoulder fracture: A slip and fall accident can break one or more bones in the shoulder. This includes the humerus (upper arm bone), clavicle (collarbone) and scapula (shoulder blade). Depending on the exact nature of the fracture, surgery may be needed.
  • Bursitis: A shoulder injury can also inflame a fluid-filled sac in your shoulder called the bursa. This condition, known as bursitis, can cause swelling and pain in your shoulder.
  • Impingement: Impingement happens when a bone in your shoulder painfully rubs against the bursa or tendons. This can be treated through surgical and non-surgical means.

Symptoms of a shoulder injury may include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain when making certain movements
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain when sleeping (especially when putting weight on the affected shoulder)
  • Weakness in shoulder
  • Cracking sensation when making certain shoulder movements
  • Visible dislocation or deformation of shoulder

If you or a loved one suffers a shoulder injury after a slip and fall, make sure the injured person does not move, and seek medical attention immediately. In the case of extreme pain, fracture or dislocation, a call to 911 may be necessary.

Effects of a Shoulder Injury

Injured man reading his prescription as his nurse explains it to him

Though not typically fatal, a slip and fall shoulder injury can be painful and debilitating. The pain of a torn rotator cuff, for example, doesn’t just affect your work life and recreation. It can also make it difficult or impossible to get a good night’s sleep.

The inability to raise or turn your arm, especially on your dominant side, can significantly restrict your daily life. You may not be able to work, lift your child, enjoy hobbies, or even walk if you relied on a cane or walker before your slip and fall.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

Because your shoulder can deteriorate from age and repetitive stress, you may be wondering whether a property owner can be held responsible for your injury if your shoulder was already in bad shape. In order to hold a property owner liable for your injury, that injury has to be caused by the condition on the property.

However, if you have prior injuries or shoulder conditions that have made you more vulnerable to future injuries, you can still get compensation. In personal injury law, this is known as the Eggshell Skull Rule.

For example, let’s say that you played football in school, where you dislocated your shoulder several times. A dislocated shoulder can leave your shoulder more susceptible to further dislocation and injury. Now, years later, you slip and fall in a hotel lobby. Your shoulder dislocates and you land badly, breaking bones in several paces.

Even though you had prior injuries that made you more vulnerable to a shoulder injury than a normal person, the property owner is still liable for the effects of your injury.

Proving Your Shoulder Injury Claim

Several X-ray results showing different shoulder injuries

Slip and fall cases are premises liability claims. This means that your claim is against the owner or controller of the property where you were injured.

Regardless of whether you talk to an insurance adjuster or a court, you need to gather compelling evidence to support your slip and fall claim.

First, gather your treatment records. You’ll need medical bills and other documents showing your prognosis. This includes the results of tests and procedures showing how and where your shoulder was injured.

Some common diagnostic tests for shoulder injuries are:

  • X-rays
  • MRI
  • Range-of-motion tests
  • Strength/resistance tests with both affected and unaffected shoulders

Records showing the necessity for shoulder surgery, rehabilitation or other treatment are also important.

Shoulder injuries also impact victims’ work and daily lives in a significant way. You should gather evidence of problems caused at work, including employee evaluations before and after the accident. Statements from co-workers or supervisors can also be helpful.

You should not neglect similar statements from your family and friends. Shoulder injuries can make even simple recreational activities, like riding a bike, painful and difficult. The inability to enjoy your life as you did before the accident is damage for which you deserve compensation.

You will also need to gather evidence about the accident itself. Pictures, videos or other evidence of the hazardous condition that caused your injury will be important for both an insurance company and a court to consider.

Slip and Fall Shoulder Injury Claim Values

Lawyer talking to an injured client about her slip and fall shoulder injury claim

In all likelihood, you will settle your injury case with an insurance company rather than going to court. In any case, you will need strong evidence to support your slip and fall claim. Work closely with your doctors to ensure that you are receiving the best treatment and getting the best information.

Without good evidence, it’s unlikely that your claim will receive over $10,000, and it will probably get much less.

After you gather the evidence you need, the value of your claim will largely depend on the amount of treatment necessary for your shoulder injury. For example, rotator cuff surgery can cost well over $20,000. If you factor in associated treatment, recovery, physical therapy and lost wages, a torn rotator cuff case could easily be worth $40,000 or more.

Less invasive surgical techniques for your shoulder would be comparable in price. As treatment technology advances, arthroscopic surgery may be an option for less serious injuries. This type of surgery makes a smaller incision and can have a shorter recovery time. The exact nature of your medical treatment must be discussed with your doctor.

When calculating the value of your claim, do not forget to add an amount for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages. This amount is typically one to two times your treatment costs and other economic damages. In the example of a rotator cuff tear, the total claim could be between $80,000 and $100,000.

Severe shoulder fractures may require more extensive surgery, rehab, and loss of future income. The higher the cost, the more likely you are to end up in court to get the compensation you deserve. When Berbara Ferren tripped and fell on an uneven sidewalk at an apartment complex, a California jury awarded $493,000 for her broken shoulder and related damages.

Get Help Carrying the Burden

While they may not initially seem as bad as other types of injuries, shoulder injuries can wreak havoc on your life. If you or a loved one has suffered a slip and fall shoulder injury, contact a qualified personal injury attorney in your state for a free consultation and case evaluation.

Matthew Carter, Esq. has been a licensed attorney since 2004. He’s admitted to practice law in California and Nevada, where he was awarded the Martindale.com rating of AV – Preeminent. Matthew has successfully handled a variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases, as well as trials, appeals, and evidentiary hearings throughout state and federal... Read More >>