Many different types of accidents or intentional injuries can cause a damaged or torn rotator cuff. This article reviews what kind of proof is necessary in a personal injury claim involving rotator cuffs, and gives some examples of reported settlements for rotator cuff injuries, which might give you a ballpark idea of what your claim might be worth.
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons connected to muscles in the shoulder. As with other soft tissue injuries, damage to a rotator cuff does not show up on devices like x-rays, although tendon damage may show up on an MRI.
A particular rotator cuff injury may or may not be easy to diagnose, but a plaintiff’s claim of a rotator cuff injury without further proof will not go very far in reaching a satisfactory settlement or winning at trial. A plaintiff should visit an orthopedic specialist to receive proper treatment and to accurately diagnose and document the injury.
Although a rotator cuff injury is soft tissue, a serious enough tear can cause long-term pain and disability. Surgery is often required for extensive rotator cuff injuries, and rehabilitation can be prolonged, involved and expensive.
As with all personal injury lawsuits, a losing defendant in a case involving a rotator cuff injury must pay the plaintiff’s medical and rehabilitation expenses, both past and future, as well as lost wages. The defendant must also compensate the plaintiff for all past and future physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Aside from lasting physical pain, a severe rotator cuff injury can permanently alter a plaintiff’s quality of life by, for example, prohibiting athletic activity, picking up children or grandchildren, engaging in the plaintiff’s chosen trade or profession, etc. Emotional pain and suffering damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for the emotional consequences, like depression, that can come from that kind of permanent or temporary disability. Learn more about types of compensation in injury cases.
As of 2006, the last time the data appears to have been compiled, the median rotator cuff injury settlement was just over $72,500.
As with all personal injury cases, the amount of a settlement is limited to what the defendant can actually pay -- either out of pocket or based on his or her insurance policy limits. Even though a jury verdict may be quite high, that number does not necessarily represent what the plaintiff was able to ultimately collect from the defendant. In automobile accidents in particular, the applicable policy limit for personal injuries may be quite low. Also keep in mind that verdicts and settlements are likely to be higher in parts of the country with a higher cost of living.