Posterior Labral Tear-Symptoms, Treatment, and How Lawyers Can Help


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A posterior labral tear is an injury in the back of the shoulder where the labrum and the rotator cuff are pinched together. This condition is also called internal impingement. This can be caused by a vehicle accident, fall or any other type of trauma to the shoulder. For example, a police officer in New Jersey suffered a posterior labral tear, among other injuries when a vehicle collided with the front of his patrol car. (The officer eventually recovered $1.5 million in damages for his injuries.) As demonstrated by the police officer’s injuries, the tear can also occur with other injuries suffered during an accident (or it can occur alone).  For example, it may be the result of a car accident, but it could also be caused by repetitive motions or heavy lifting that leads to cartilage wear.

If you have suffered a posterior labral injury because of an accident or because of the physical activity required on the job, you may have the basis to bring a personal injury claim. If the accident is the result of someone else’s negligent behavior, you can file a claim or lawsuit to recover related medical expenses and lost wages as a minimum.

The Physical Condition. The posterior labral tear occurs in a cuff of cartilage call the labrum. The labrum is located in the shoulder joint at the end of the upper arm bone. The labrum is made up of a network of tissues and excessive pulling, like that which occurs during a car accident, can lead to the cartilage being torn. The tear may feel like you have a “catch” in your shoulder at first, but eventually pain will develop and worsen over time. The shoulder itself may constantly ache and there could be general weakness. The tear weakens the cartilage which means you are also more susceptible to suffering a shoulder dislocation.

Treatment and Recovery. When the shoulder cartilage is injured, the treatment may include

  • Diagnostic tests including X-rays and/or MRI
  • Anti-inflammatory medications for pain or inflammation
  • Rest to reduce inflammation
  • Application of heat compresses
  • Physical therapy

In some cases, surgery may be needed but it is considered a last resort. Recovery from a posterior labral tear can take up to four months.

Negligence and Legal Damages

If an accident caused a posterior labral injury, or your employer knew of the risk of injury due to the nature of the work and did nothing to prevent the injury, you may have the basis for a personal injury claim. You will need to gather together your medical records, hospital and medical bills, physical therapy bills and any other expenses you have. 

If negligence on the part of another driver can be proven, it may be possible to make a claim or sue for loss of wages also as a result of the accident. If you suffer serious injury or damages, such as the following, you may also ask for an amount for pain and suffering.

  • partial or significant decrease in the range of motion
  • permanent loss of arm strength
  • ongoing pain
  • loss of ability to work
  • shoulder never works properly again and locks up or has grinding sensation

The case for personal injury claims often hinges on proving causation. Did the accident (or negligent behavior) lead to the posterior labral tear? If the person causing the accident or injury had a duty to act in a certain way and could have prevented the accident, then you may have a claim for breach of duty that caused damages to be suffered. 

Negligent behavior is unreasonable behavior or acting in a way other than the way a reasonable person would act. Working with an attorney, you can negotiate an insurance claim or file a lawsuit. The amount of the claim can vary widely depending on the extent of the injuries, treatments that are necessary, and whether the injury leads to partial or full disability.

Get the Advice of an Attorney

It’s important to get the advice of an attorney experienced in personal injury cases as soon as possible after an accident, or if it is work-related, when you become aware of the condition and suspect it is due to the type of work you do. As a general rule, it’s not wise to settle your insurance case too quickly … until you consider all of the factors. An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company or file a lawsuit, if necessary, to obtain full and fair compensation.

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