Charlotte Shoulder Injury Lawyer

Charlotte Shoulder Injury Lawyer

Sustaining any type of injury while at work can be a devastating and painful ordeal. North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act was instituted to protect workers and justly compensate for their injuries, resulting medical bills, and time off work. Unfortunately, the letter of North Carolina’s law can prove more of a hindrance than a help when covering work injuries, especially shoulder injuries, which can be harder to definitively prove.

If you’ve recently suffered a shoulder or other type of work injury, contact a skilled and qualified attorney who can review the details of your case and work to ensure that you receive proper and just compensation for your injury.

Workers’ Compensation and Shoulder Injury Representation in Charlotte, NC

The team at The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, has been dutifully representing Charlotte, NC workers for many years. We believe in fighting for our clients, which is why we choose to charge a relatively low contingency fee to represent workers’ cases. By charging a mere 25% contingent fee and offering initial consultations, our hope is that more workers will fight for the compensation they deserve, trusting us to represent them.

While we continue to hope and fight for North Carolina legislation to justly provide for its workers, we believe that the current workers’ compensation system is not always fair. For this reason, we work hard to develop an effective strategy to secure compensation for those who are hurt at work.

Charlotte Shoulder Injury Lawyer

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

The United States established the workers’ compensation system to benefit workers who are injured at work. State programs, however, are responsible for implementing and administering benefits to workers. For this reason, specific benefits can vary between states. Nevertheless, workers’ compensation is ideally intended to provide workers who have suffered an injury or contracted an illness at work with benefits, including: 

  • Medical expenses. The cost of any medical treatment arising from your injury is covered by workers’ compensation. This includes, but isn’t limited to, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any medication recommended or required.
  • Reimbursement for lost wages. If you are unable to work due to your injury, workers’ compensation can cover the lost wages that you would have earned if not for the injury, including bonuses and commissions that you would have earned.
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits. In some cases, where the worker is unable to return to the same job due to a particular injury, workers’ compensation can cover the cost of training for a new job, offering career counseling, or making modifications to your home or workplace to provide needed accessibility.

Settlements for workers’ compensation can be paid out in one of two ways: 

  • Lump-sum settlement. In a lump-sum settlement, compensation is paid out as a one-time payment that encompasses all of the worker’s entitled benefits, including medical bills and lost wages.
  • Structured settlement. In a structured settlement, compensation is distributed in weekly or monthly installments for an allotted period of time, such as five years.

What Are the Signs of a Shoulder Injury?

The Department of Labor cites shoulder injuries as the musculoskeletal disorder that keeps workers off the job for the longest amount of time. On average, workers suffering shoulder injuries are unable to return to work for 21 days. Before filing a claim with your employer, it is important to assess the injury. If you are experiencing any of the following, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible:

  • Swelling of the shoulder
  • Bruises on the shoulder
  • Cracking sound when moving your shoulder
  • Weakness in your arm
  • Inability to lift or move your arm
  • Pain, especially at night when resting on your arm

Experiencing these or other similar symptoms can be a sign of a shoulder injury. If any of these symptoms are present, you should seek immediate medical attention.

What Are the Common Causes of Shoulder Injuries?

Injuries in the shoulder occur when excess strain is applied to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones that make up the shoulder. This can happen at a workplace when any of the following occurs: 

  • Heavy pushing or lifting. Pushing with your arms or lifting heavy materials can place a continual or sudden strain on your shoulder. Individuals in warehouses, factories, and construction sites are particularly prone to the risk of suffering an injury to the shoulder through these tasks.
  • Slip and falls. Slip and fall injuries are among the most common causes of workplace injuries. Workers who slip on wet or damaged flooring, or fall from a platform or ladder while working, risk landing on their shoulder, causing significant injury.
  • Strained movement while in awkward positions. Moving your arms while they are raised above your head, especially for extended periods of time, will put a strain on your body. Those whose work tasks frequently lead them into awkward positions, such as plumbers, construction workers, or some manufacturing workers, tend to run a higher risk of suffering shoulder injuries as a result.

Common Types of Shoulder Injuries at Work

The shoulder can be damaged in several ways, ranging from mild to severe injuries, especially when performing work tasks. While certainly not exhaustive, the following constitute the most common shoulder injuries that can arise at work: 

  • Shoulder dislocation. If your arm pops out of the shoulder socket, the dislocation will weaken the joint, leading to more pain and a higher vulnerability to further injury in the future.
  • Shoulder fracture. When excess pressure is placed on the bones, the break is known as a fracture. If the bones pierce through the skin, it’s called an open fracture. Fractures most often occur on the shoulder when a worker falls and lands on their shoulder from a great height or when a heavy object falls onto the worker’s shoulder from above them.
  • Rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuffs are responsible for the mobility of the shoulder. Tearing one of these cuffs results in severe aches when sleeping on or raising an arm, which can further weaken the arm.
  • Bursitis. When the fluid sac in the shoulder’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons, called the bursae, inflames, it causes pain in the whole shoulder.
  • Frozen shoulder. When a shoulder has become limited in movement or has become stuck, this is known as frozen shoulder. This is most commonly caused by inflammation of the tissues surrounding the joint, which consists of a ball and socket. Generally, this is a secondary condition that follows another injury, typically to the rotator cuff or bursae.
  • Shoulder impingement. Impingement occurs when a tendon inside your shoulder catches on or rubs against nearby bone or tissue, especially as you lift your arm. This painful condition can occur if the tendon or bursae has become swollen or inflamed.

Most Common Shoulder Injury: Torn Rotator Cuffs

A torn rotator cuff is one of the most common shoulder injuries in the workplace. As it is such a common workplace injury, it is also a leading cause of workers’ compensation claims. The rotator cuff itself is the sleeve that holds the four tendons attaching your upper arm to your shoulder blade and rib muscles. You risk injuring this part of the body when you push or lift your shoulder beyond its natural range of motion.

The inflammation caused by an injury to your rotator cuff can lead to further problems, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder bursitis, and rotator cuff tears. Without seeking proper medical treatment, these problems can last between a couple of months to several years. Thankfully, most rotator cuff injuries respond very well to physical therapy, and they can even heal within weeks if properly cared for. Workers who are covered under workers’ compensation will qualify regardless of whether the injury is permanent or temporary.

How Torn Rotator Cuffs Happen

Several movements have a tendency to cause rotator cuff injuries. The following kinds of motion cause tendon trauma if not properly avoided:

  • Pushing off with your arms
  • Reaching up with repetition
  • Moving arms around while they are over your head

Unfortunately, these are common movements at many workplaces, requiring workers to pay careful attention at all times to prevent injury when doing these types of movements.

Will It Be Covered?

Because of North Carolina’s strict stance on “injury by accident,” it can be difficult and involve a complicated claims case to have this injury covered. Torn rotator cuffs generally fall under repetitive stress injuries, but a skilled attorney can argue the grounds for covering this type of injury. In fact, Bob Bollinger and his team have secured coverage for many clients who have suffered torn rotator cuffs as a result of their time at work.

North Carolina’s Injury-by-Accident Rule Regarding Workplace Injury

For shoulder injuries in the workplace, North Carolina law requires that the injury occur as the result of an accident to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. In other words, the injury must be the result of an interruption of a normal work routine. Therefore, the following must be true to qualify as a covered workplace accident:

  1. An employee injured themselves at work.
  2. The injury occurred while performing a work task.
  3. The injury was the result of an accident or other unusual event that occurred outside of a normal routine.

This “injury by accident” (IBA) rule institutes a narrow and strict definition of what constitutes a workplace accident injury. Unfortunately, this unique and unusual rule leads to many workers having their coverage denied because they describe the issue under the wrong terminology, failing to demonstrate the injury as occurring in an act that is a break from routine. Without reporting something out of the ordinary or unusual happening, individuals can lose their case when reporting to their employer or insurance company, as the injury is misclassified.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries, also called repetitive motion injuries, occur as the result of repetitive motion of the joint or extremity over time. These types of injuries would not classify as an IBA, but they may still be covered. Falling under what is called “occupational disease,” repetitive stress injuries can still be covered, even without an accident occurring.

Difficulty of Proving Shoulder Injuries

Back injuries are almost always covered by workers’ compensation automatically, even if the injury occurred while performing routine duties. The laws regarding injuries to other parts of the body differ significantly, however. The IBA rule in North Carolina means that any injury to the shoulder requires careful reporting to get covered.

For example, if a worker suffers a hernia while moving a box up on a high shelf, it is highly likely that their case will be accepted and paid out, even if moving the box was a normal task in their daily work routine, simply because it was a back injury. However, if the same worker had injured their shoulder during the same task, they would more likely be denied coverage.

Because these cases can be tricky and complicated, requiring an extensive knowledge of current North Carolina law, it is vital that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible after sustaining a shoulder injury. A Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer understands how to communicate the incident from the beginning in ways that can better ensure proper and just coverage for the injury.

Bob Bollinger has successfully argued in previous cases, for instance, that an accident could be anything that causes an unexpected event in your normal work routine, including being injured by performing new duties. By tactfully presenting the facts of the case, he has secured for countless workers the compensation they deserve for injuries sustained on the job.

Work With a Shoulder Injury Lawyer Today

If you’ve suffered any kind of injury at work, including a shoulder injury, reach out to The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, as soon as possible to begin discussing and arranging your case. It takes an experienced and skilled worker injury attorney to navigate claims, and helping injured Charlotte workers obtain the benefits they deserve is why we do what we do.

For questions about your case, what to expect, or what next steps to take, contact our office today. We are always happy to answer questions and offer guidance for your claim. Learn more about how we can help you today.

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