Rotator Cuff Tear Compensation

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If you, or someone close to you, have suffered a rotator cuff tear injury in Queensland due to the negligence or fault of another party, you might wonder if you're entitled to rotator cuff injury compensation.

This straightforward guide aims to help you understand the intricacies of claiming compensation, including your rights to compensation, common causes of such injuries, an overview of the claims process, frequently asked questions, and time limits for making a claim specific to Queensland. 

Smith's Lawyers team of personal injury claim experts offers free initial advice and no-obligation appointments at home, in the hospital, in-office, or via phone. All claims have no upfront costs or risks of being left out of pocket under our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise. We operate Queensland-wide.

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Understanding Your Rights After a Rotator Cuff Tear Injury in Queensland

If you've experienced a rotator cuff tear injury in Queensland as a result of someone else's negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. There are specific compensation schemes for different types of accidents available throughout the state. These include: 

  • Motor vehicle accidents: The Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme covers compensation for those who suffer shoulder injuries on the road, and it wasn't their fault. You can claim regardless of whether you are a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian.
  • Workplace injuries: If you're injured on the job, statutory claims can be made through WorkCover Queensland or, if your employer is a self-insurer, through their workers' compensation scheme. This applies regardless of who was at fault. In cases where the employer was negligent, common law claims can also be made.
  • Public place accidents: If you've been injured in a public place, common law claims can be made against the public liability insurer of the entity or person responsible for the area.

If you think your shoulder injury was caused by someone else, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer to find out if you can claim compensation. 

Smith's Lawyers offers a free case review, which could help you understand how your claim might look.

Common Causes of Rotator Cuff Tear Injuries

The rotator cuff is essentially a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. It plays an important role in supporting the arm's movement and stability. A bad accident can lead to tear injuries that could leave you in considerable pain and possibly lacking the mobility to perform basic tasks.

 Some of the most common causes of a tear include:

  • Falling accidents: A hard fall onto an outstretched hand can sometimes cause damage throughout the arm, all the way to the shoulder. This can occur in various workplaces, but particularly within industries that involve heights such as construction or utility services.
  • Heavy lifting: Lifting heavy objects without proper training or equipment is a prime reason behind many rotator cuff tear injuries. Manual labour workers like those in warehouses and docks are particularly at risk.
  • Repetitive movement: Continuous overuse can strain the rotator cuff, leading to tear injuries over time. Professions requiring frequent overhead activities, such as painters or cleaners, are susceptible to this.
  • Direct blows: A strong, direct impact to the shoulder region, like those resulting from road accidents or heavy object collisions, can severely damage the rotator cuff.
  • Age-related degeneration: Naturally, as we age, our muscles and tendons tend to deteriorate. Professionals in physically demanding roles for many years may experience a rotator cuff tear injury due to this degeneration.
Common Types of Rotator Cuff Tear Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries can happen anywhere and often when you least expect it. Although it usually takes two to four weeks for these to recover, sometimes it can take months. These injuries can manifest in many ways, including: 

  • Partial tears: These occur when the rotator cuff is damaged but not completely severed. It's common in workplace incidents where there is a sudden jerk of the arm or a heavy lifting incident. Accidents like this could leave you eligible to claim workers' compensation.
  • Full-thickness tears: Also known as a complete tear and as you can expect, the muscle tissue is fully torn. Most common in serious road accidents or from a slip. It can cause significant pain and limit arm mobility. Worksafe Queensland recommends that you don't return to work and avoid overhead activities for 28 days following an injury.
  • Tendinitis: This is an inflammation of the tendon that can result from repetitive overhead activities common in certain occupations. Persistent pain and difficulty in moving the arm are typical symptoms.
  • Impingement: This injury happens when the shoulder blade exerts pressure on the underlying soft tissues when the arm is lifted. It's predominant in jobs that require lifting the arm overhead, causing discomfort and restricted motion.
  • Bursitis: Caused by inflammation of the bursa (a small fluid-filled sac), this injury is often a result of prolonged physical labour, leading to chronic shoulder pain and difficulties with arm movement.

If you think you have developed any of these conditions because of someone else's negligence, then you could be entitled to make a shoulder injury compensation claim.

Contact a personal injury lawyer who can advise you of what options you have.

Workers Most at Risk of Rotator Cuff Tear Injuries

Some industries are at a higher risk of incurring work-related rotator cuff tear injuries than others. Generally, this is due to the physical demands of the job. Some of the professions most likely to claim include: 

  • Construction industry: Builders and labourers are frequently required to lift heavy materials and perform repetitive overhead activities. This can place continuous strain on the rotator cuff, increasing its susceptibility to injury.
  • Healthcare: Nurses, care providers, and other healthcare professionals are often required to lift and turn patients, especially those with limited mobility. These activities can stress the rotator cuff, making workers prone to injury.
  • Warehouse and logistic services: Staff in these sectors regularly carry out heavy lifting and repetitive overhead work. These persistent activities can result in fatigue and subsequent injury to the rotator cuff.
  • Painters and decorators: Such jobs often involve working at height and holding your arms above your head for extended periods. This repetitive overhead action can place significant strain on the rotator cuff, sparking injuries.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Understanding the Compensation Claims Process

When you've experienced a rotator cuff tear injury in the workplace, understanding the workers' compensation claim process can feel like trying to navigate a maze.

Below is a general guide for how your claim could look. Your process might be different and involve fewer or more steps. Remember, before considering a claim, it's crucial to seek medical advice following your injury. This not only ensures your fastest route to recovery but can also aid significantly when launching a claim for shoulder injury compensation.

Below is an outline of the steps involved: 

1. Seek Free Initial Legal Advice

The first step is to get in touch with a law firm that specialises in compensation claims for injuries. Such a firm will have the necessary expertise and understanding of the complexities of Queensland law and can confirm your legal options, including eligibility to make a claim.

2. Engage A Personal Injury Lawyer

After an initial phone assessment, the next stage is a no-obligation consultation to explain the process and client agreement in more detail and to gather initial key information relating to your accident and injury to help assess your case and your injury and identify the liable party. The client agreement will also be explained so you can understand the terms under which the personal injury law operates. Smith’s Lawyers runs all claims risk-free with no upfront costs.

3. Gather Evidence To Build Your Case

Once your compensation matter is opened, you will be allocated a personal injury lawyer who will start gathering the required evidence to build a strong case and to determine liability. This may include medical reports, accident reports, witness statements, CCTV or dashcam footage or documentation of any loss of earnings due to your injury. Further down the track, when your injuries have settled, your law firm may arrange for independent medical assessments such as occupational therapy assessment to assess your ability to work, long-term recovery prospects and so on.

4. File Your Claim

Your personal injury solicitor will lodge a notice of claim and negotiate on your behalf with the liable parties, typically with their insurance companies (or their legal representatives), such as the CTP insurer of the at-fault party for car and road accidents or WorkCover Qld for workplace accidents. 

5. Negotiate With The At-Fault Party's Insurer

Negotiations with the insurance company aim to reach a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Most cases are settled out of court in a compulsory conference, an office-based meeting involving yourself, your personal injury solicitor and a barrister they have engaged in leading the negotiations along with the legal representatives of the at-fault party's insurer. 

In the unlikely event that a settlement cannot be negotiated out of court, proceedings can proceed to court. In most ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case is unsuccessful in court. Smith’s Lawyers No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise protects you from this risk and means you can not be out of pocket.

6. Settlement Payment

If your claim is successful, you will receive a lump-sum tax-free compensation settlement. The amount received will depend on different factors, including the severity of your injury, any impact on your earning capacity, and any medical expenses incurred. Legal fees are charged for the work completed only if there is a successful outcome.

Seek expert advice ASAP: Remember, each case is unique, and the process can vary based on the specifics. It's suggested to seek professional legal advice and have your case reviewed by an expert team to guide you in this journey. Smith's Lawyers are experts in personal injury claims and offer a Queensland-wide service with free initial advice to get you started in your claim process.

What Evidence Do I Need to Support My Rotator Cuff Tear Claim?

If you've had an accident and suffered a rotator cuff tear, it's important to gather as much evidence as you can to support your claim. The more comprehensive your evidence, the more likely your case will result in a successful outcome. 

The things that will likely help your claim include: 

  • Medical reports: Any treatment you receive for your injury must be documented in detailed medical reports. This information is essential to demonstrate the severity of your injury and the extent of the treatment required. Ensure you obtain copies of your diagnostic reports, treatment plans, prescriptions, and any other relevant documents from your healthcare providers.
  • Proof of accident: This can include photographs, video footage, police reports, or other physical evidence from the scene of the accident. It will provide an objective view of the circumstances surrounding the injury and can greatly strengthen your claim.
  • Witness testimonies: Statements from anyone who witnessed the accident can provide insights into what happened and show more clearly who's to blame. Be sure to collect the contact information of any witnesses at the scene.
  • Details of expenses: Keep track of any expenses related to your injury. This can include medical bills, the cost of medication, rehabilitation costs, and any that had you out-of-pocket. The more comprehensive your record of these expenses, the better your claim for compensation.
  • Proof of lost earnings: If your injury has resulted in you being unable to work, either temporarily or permanently, having evidence of the income you've lost is vital. This can range from payslips to bank statements or tax returns. It's not just immediate loss that counts, but also potential future earnings.

Shoulder injury compensation payouts are more likely where you have lots of relevant, credible, and accurately recorded evidence. Speaking to a lawyer can help you figure out what is going to be best for your claim. 

Smith's Lawyers offer a free case review where you can discuss how your claim will look. 

Calculating Your Compensation Amount

How much you get as a lump sum payment relies on several factors, which can feel like navigating a labyrinth. Generally, in a settlement, the courts will consider the following:

  • Past and future loss of earnings: If your injury has led to time off work, you can claim for lost wages. This also extends to any potential roadblocks the injury might pose for your future earning capacity, such as promotions or performance bonuses. Importantly, your compensation may also include losses related to your superannuation contributions.
  • Hospital and medical expenses: All costs related to your medical treatment, from hospital stays to surgeries, are covered in your claim. Any future medical costs with a clear link to treating your rotator cuff tear or alleviating its symptoms are accounted for as well.
  • Rehabilitation costs: Rehabilitation plays a critical role in making a successful recovery from a rotator cuff tear. You can include physiotherapy and other forms of rehabilitative care costs for this process in your compensation claim.
  • Pain and suffering: Compensation doesn't only cover physical losses. The emotional and psychological trauma that comes with enduring pain, suffering, and the subsequent adjustment to life post-injury can also be a significant component of your claim.

How Can a Rotator Cuff Tear Impact Your Ability to Work?

A rotator cuff or shoulder injury can significantly affect your ability to do your job, particularly if your work involves physical activity. Effects can be felt both in the short and the long term. 

Short-term impact: Initially, you might struggle with simple tasks such as lifting, pushing, or pulling. Even typing or writing could prove challenging. Pain and a limited range of motion could disrupt your day-to-day work, possibly making it impossible to perform certain tasks. These challenges might force you to take time off from work, resulting in lost income. 

Long-term impact: In the long term, a rotator cuff tear could lead to ongoing weakness, reduced mobility, and even a decreased capacity to work at all. It might also have a long-lasting psychological impact, such as anxiety or depression, which can affect work performance and job satisfaction. 

Remember, your capacity to earn an income is a critical component when determining your compensation following a rotator cuff injury.

Our team at Smith’s Lawyers can provide a no-obligation case review to explain your options when it comes to work and your injury.

Time Limits for Rotator Cuff Tear Injuries

It's important to note that, in Queensland, rotator cuff and shoulder injury claims must generally be lodged within three years of the date of the accident or injury. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, these limits can be different.

For work-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have six months to lodge your claim with WorkCover. The six-month period begins whenever the incident takes place, either when you are injured or after a doctor has made their assessment.
  • You have three years to commence legal proceedings for a common law claim. If your employer or a third party caused or contributed to your injury, this can be run alongside a standard WorkCover claim.

For motor vehicle-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have nine months from the date of the accident or when injuries first became apparent to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim Form (known as a 'NOAC') with the Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer). A “reasonable excuse for delay” can be provided outside the nine months but must be within three years of the accident, or you will be barred from making a claim.
  • Or, you have one month from when you first consult with a lawyer about the possibility of making a claim to lodge the form. When running a claim with Smith’s Lawyers, your appointed solicitor will help you complete and submit this form.  Note: This time limit is the earlier of the two (one month vs nine months), so if you have spoken to a lawyer about your potential claim, you must lodge the NOAC within one month.
  • Where the motor vehicle at fault cannot be identified (such as in a hit and run), or the vehicle was unregistered, you have three months from the date of the accident to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim form with the Nominal Defendant. For these claims, if you have missed the three-month period, a reasonable excuse can be provided, but it must be provided within the standard nine-month limit; otherwise, you will be barred from making a claim.
  • After the Notice of Claim Form is lodged, you have three years from the date of the accident/injury to start legal proceedings.

These limits can fluctuate based on specific circumstances, such as exceptional delays in discovering the injury or if the injured party was under 18 at the time of the accident. For those under 18, the time limit begins when they reach adulthood.

At Smith's Lawyers, we offer free and no-obligation case reviews to aid you in understanding your legal rights after an injury. Operating on a No Win, No Fee, No Catch® basis, we aim to provide risk-free legal assistance and advocate for your right to proper compensation.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the difference between a rotator cuff strain and a rotator cuff tear?
  • Rotator Cuff Strain: This involves overstretching or minor tearing of the tendons and muscles that make up the rotator cuff. Symptoms include pain, weakness, and reduced range of motion.
  • Rotator Cuff Tear: This is a more severe injury where one or more of the tendons completely tear away from the bone. This often leads to intense pain, significant weakness, and a crackling sensation when moving the shoulder.
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Do I need surgery for a rotator cuff injury to be eligible for compensation?

No, surgery isn't a prerequisite for compensation. Your claim hinges on demonstrating the degree of impairment caused by the injury, regardless of whether surgery is needed. Non-surgical options for rehabilitation and medical treatment are still factored into your compensation entitlements.

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What should I do first if I think I've injured my rotator cuff at work?
  1. Immediately Report the Injury: Inform your employer as soon as possible, both verbally and in writing. This creates a documented record of the event.
  2. Seek Medical Attention: Promptly visit a doctor for diagnosis and begin treatment. Medical records play a crucial role in your compensation claim.
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My employer is disputing my rotator cuff claim. What are my options?

If your WorkCover claim is denied, you have rights to appeal and reconsiderations:

  • Internal Review: Request your claim be re-examined by WorkCover.
  • Further Appeals: You can progress to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) or higher courts if still disagreed with. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer is vital during this process.
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It was a pre-existing injury, but work made it worse. Can I still claim?

Potentially, yes. Aggravation of pre-existing conditions by work activities can warrant compensation. This will require medical evidence that links the worsening of your condition directly to your work. Seeking legal advice will enhance your understanding of potential compensation entitlements in these scenarios.

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How can a rotator cuff injury impact the ability to work?

Severe rotator cuff injuries can make these jobs very difficult:

  • Construction and Trades: Limited dexterity and strength could restrict tool use, overhead movement, and lifting.
  • Manual Handling: These jobs often involve tasks that put excessive strain on the shoulder.
  • Healthcare: Nurses and carers frequently lift and turn patients, demanding full shoulder function.
  • Other Repetitive Tasks: Many jobs requiring repetitive arm movement could further damage or inhibit the healing of a rotator cuff injury.
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What is the impairment rating for a rotator cuff injury?

Permanent impairment ratings, assessed by an independent medical examiner (IME), typically vary depending on the injury's severity. Rotator cuff injuries might fall within the 5-15% range on the WorkCover permanent impairment guidelines. However, your individual rating, which greatly influences compensation amounts, requires the expertise of medical and legal professionals for accurate determination.

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Are there any upfront costs or risks?

No; our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise at Smith’s Lawyers means there are no upfront costs, and you can never be left out of pocket as a result of the claim. Typically with ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could still be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case goes to court and is unsuccessful. In the unlikely event that your case goes to court and you are unsuccessful, we'll cover the costs - so you won't pay a cent to us or anyone else.

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Get expert advice today

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers. We can explain your options to Rotator Cuff Compensation claims so you are clear on your rights during this difficult time.

Take our 2-minute free claim check

Fill in the form below to find out if you have a claim.

Last updated:
June 23, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.