Shoulder injuries are common. Whether you have suffered a rotator cuff injury or a shoulder ligament tear, shoulder injuries are seen in a range of workplaces and in roles that involve lots of lifting and/or reaching such as in healthcare and warehouse/packing roles. The symptoms of a shoulder injury can include sharp pain, restricted movement, and swelling or tenderness.
If your shoulder injury has been caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness then you may able to claim compensation. Negligence can occur in a number of ways.
If you have suffered a shoulder injury at work you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Your employer has a duty to provide a safe, proper, and adequate means for employees to perform their work.
The duty of an employer extends to:
If you have suffered a shoulder injury at work due to the negligent or careless provision of work, systems or safe environment then you may be able to sue your employer for compensation. Even if your shoulder injury has been aggravated or has been incurred over a long period of time, you can still claim for personal injury.
Jeff works in an ice cream factory. He is working on a machine adding raw ingredients when he gets his arm stuck in the machine, and it turns on unexpectedly. He suffers injury to his shoulder. There was no training provided to Jeff and the machine was not fitted with a kill switch. Due to the negligence of his employer it is likely that Jeff will be able to seek compensation for these injuries.
Ryan works in a factory performing electrical maintenance on machinery. He has been trained and instructed in how to use the machinery and in how to activate kill switches and electrical isolators. Despite this, he wants to get home early and cuts a couple of corners. Due to his negligent actions he injures his shoulder in a machine. It’s unlikely that Ryan would be able to claim compensation for his injuries due to the fact that his injuries were caused by his own negligence.
If your shoulder is injured as a result of a car accident and the accident was not your fault you may able to claim compensation from the at-fault driver’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance.
Lydia is riding her bicycle and suffers a severe shoulder injury when a car clips her and sends her flying onto the pavement. Lydia can seek compensation from the owner of the vehicle that struck her from their CTP insurance.
Jasmine is driving to work and is late, so she’s speeding. On her way she loses control over her vehicle and hits a bollard, causing her to suffer shoulder injuries. Due to the fact that the accident was her fault and there was no other driver involved, it is unlikely that Jasmine can seek compensation for her injuries. If her accident took place after 1 July 2016 Jasmine may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).
When you enter onto someone else’s land - whether it’s a private home or a public place - the owner or occupier of that land has a duty to ensure the safety of people entering their land. A common shoulder injury might occur when someone slips over on a floor surface, or trips on an unexpected hole or obstacle.
Grace is visiting a public pool when she trips over a broken piece of concrete and injures her shoulder. The pool knew of the concrete but did not take steps to alert the public or to fix it. Grace may be able to claim compensation for her injuries from the pool.
Jemma is running next to a public pool when she slips over due to water on the pool’s edge. Signs specifically prohibit running, but Jemma was doing it anyway. Jemma’s injuries were sustained as a result of her own negligence so she will likely not be able to claim for compensation from the pool.
If you take place in contact sports then you are accepting an implied risk of injury. Shoulder injuries which are sustained in the normal or ordinary course of playing sports will likely not be compensatable. But if you sustain an injury due to someone else’s negligent act, or through inadequate supervision, then you may be able to claim for compensation.
In addition to negligence claims for compensation, you may be able to claim compensation under a school or university's insurance policy if you play sport for them.
Roger plays tennis for his school. He is at training one day when he trips over a stray piece of the court which has lifted, falling and injuring his shoulder. He was not warned about this, even though the maintenance staff knew. Roger may be able to claim compensation from the school.
This form of compensation is designed to provide financial relief for the pain and suffering that you may experience due to your shoulder injury. Damages are assessed with reference to something called ISV Tables where each type of injury is allocated a rating and then given a financial amount depending on the severity of the rating.
For example an extreme shoulder rating such as severe fractures or dislocation has a rating between 31 to 50 and a monetary range of $51,350 to $99,900. A minor shoulder injury such as soft tissue injury or fracture is rated 0 to 5 with a monetary range of $0 to $7,400.
Diagnosing your shoulder injury may require a range of visits to medical practitioners and may need trips to specialists. Any medical costs that you incur as a result of your shoulder injury may be eligible for compensation and can be claimed.
Hospital and surgical costs
A shoulder injury may require surgery and a stay in hospital. If this is the case you can claim any relevant hospital costs and surgical costs provided they are necessary for the treatment of your shoulder injury.
Any reasonable costs of rehabilitation may be claimed, including costs like physiotherapy and acupuncture.
Loss of income and future earning capacity
A shoulder injury may mean you are off work while you recover and rehabilitate. If you have been unable to work and lost income you may be able to claim for this loss of earnings. In addition to this, if your shoulder injury results in you being unable to work in the future in the same capacity as you previously did then you may be able to claim a loss of future earnings as well. A loss of future earnings is usually calculated as a lump sum.
Loss of Superannuation
If you have lost superannuation which would otherwise have been received then you can claim compensation for this as well.
Care & Assistance
A serious shoulder injury can prevent you from completing tasks you might previously have done. If this is the case and you now require others to perform these tasks for you, you can seek compensation for any care or assistance which is now being provided by family, paid contractors, and/or friends.
In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.
The amount of compensation which is payable is determined by looking at what your life was like prior to suffering your shoulder injury and comparing this to what your life is like now. When a large impact is seen on your life this will generally result in a higher amount of compensation, whereas smaller impacts result in lower amounts of compensation.
The compensation payable for a shoulder injury will depend on a range of variables, including:
When you have been injured you have three years to bring an action for compensation beginning from the date of your injury. If you miss this three year deadline then you will be prohibited under statute from bringing an action.
Depending on where and when your injury took place, there may be specific pre-court procedures in place which have their own specific time limits. You must adhere to these time limits otherwise you may lose your right to claim.
If you were under 18 when you suffered your injury then different time limits may apply.
Shoulder injuries are common in the workplace and at home. Here are some of the most common ones:
Nerve palsies - this is where a permanent or enduring paralysis of the affected area served by the nerves exists
Crush injuries - the shoulder is crushed causing extensive bone damage and tissue damage
Fractures - a bone fracture resulting in swelling and pain
Dislocation - bones slip out of alignment where ligaments are stretched
Overuse injuries - prolonged stress on a joint can result in strains, tears and other presenting issues
A shoulder injury can be caused by an accident, by trauma at work, through slipping or falling, or through overuse.
Car accidents: The shoulder can be injured or dislocated through a car accident and cause ongoing pain and injury.
Slips and falls: A slip or fall can result in the shoulder being impacted and can cause traumatic injury to the area.
Sports injury: Contact sports can cause shoulder issues, while any sports that put ongoing pressure on your shoulder can result in injury to the shoulder.
Overuse: Gradual onset conditions and long-term shoulder issues can result from overuse of the joint.
Your shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Due to this range of movement the shoulder is also more likely to be injured. Shoulder injuries can take place during sporting activities, while working, or even just doing tasks around the home. The long term impacts of a shoulder injury can be as minor as some stiffness through to complete immobilisation of the joint. It is important to seek treatment for a shoulder injury as the consequences can range from chronic pain through to disrupted sleep owing to pain.
Depending on the type of shoulder injury you have sustained and how you suffered the injury, you may be able to seek compensation. Regardless of the circumstances you should seek legal advice to find out if you are eligible to make a claim for compensation.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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