Shoulder Injuries at Work
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Shoulder injuries are one of the most common types of injuries suffered by employees across all industries. Whether a loading dock employee tore a rotator cuff while lifting heavy cargo or a nursing assistant strained her shoulder while attempting to lift a patient, shoulder injuries can make it difficult, if not impossible to fulfill job-related duties. Fortunately, Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws cover most shoulder injuries, including medical bills incurred for treatment, as well as wage replacement. However, the length of time that an injured party can receive benefits will depend largely on the severity of the injury, so it is critical for injured parties to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can ensure that all necessary medical evidence is submitted to help establish the severity of an employee’s injury.
While the shoulder is one of the most mobile and flexible joints in the body, which allows for unrestricted range of motion, it is also particularly susceptible to injury. Generally, the severity of a shoulder injury depends on a series of factors, including:
For instance, if an employee was in good health, but had suffered shoulder injuries in the past and then fell on his or her side, causing the shoulder to take the brunt of the impact, he or she is more likely to sustain a severe injury. Alternatively, an employee who had no preexisting shoulder problems, but had performed the same overhead motion for years is more likely to suffer a repetitive motion injury, such as a torn rotator cuff.
Regardless of the type of work an employee is performing, he or she could sustain a shoulder injury if involved in an accident resulting in a substantial impact or heavy blow. In most cases, this type of situation involves a fall, as people generally try to protect themselves with their arms. While this reflexive reaction allows people to protect their faces and heads from impact, it leaves the wrists, forearms, and shoulders vulnerable, which could result in any of the following injuries:
These types of injuries usually require employees to take a substantial amount of time off from work and undergo physical therapy. Injured employees may also need to take prescription medications to manage the pain or undergo surgery to repair torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Repetitive motion injuries are more likely to afflict those who tend to perform the same type of motion over and over again. For instance, heavy lifting often leads to serious shoulder injuries over time. As a result, certain types of workers are especially prone to repetitive motion injuries, such as torn rotator cuffs. At-risk employees include:
These individuals are required to make repeated overhead motions or lift heavy items, which can result in wear and tear on the shoulder, especially the rotator cuff. Rotator cuffs are comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that surround and protect the shoulder joint. Over time, employees may begin to experience a dull ache in the shoulder area, as well as an inability to lift the arm above chest level. Physical therapy is often enough to improve an employee’s flexibility and strength in the muscles around the shoulder joint. However, some severe cases can only be repaired surgically. Torn rotator cuffs are not the only type of repetitive motion injury that workers are at risk of suffering. Other common injuries caused by repetitive motion include:
While some of these injuries can be treated with the correctly prescribed medications and rest, others require more significant intervention, such as surgery. Fortunately, regardless of whether an employee’s injury was caused by overuse or a single traumatic accident, he or she will be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits to pay for treatment.
Employees who suffer shoulder injuries that require them to take a week or more off from work are entitled to receive weekly Temporary Total Disability (TTD) benefits, which are equal to two-thirds of an employee’s average weekly wage. Non-catastrophic injuries will generally be compensable for up to 400 weeks. If, when an employee is able to return to work, he or she can only accept lower paying employment because of the lingering effects of the injury, he or she can begin receiving Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits. These benefits will be paid for up to 350 weeks in an amount that is equal to two-thirds of the difference between the employee’s previous and current wage.
Once a physician determines that an injured party has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), which means that the patient is not anticipated to make a full recovery, he or she will assign the worker a Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) rating. This rating requires a calculation of the percentage of permanent impairment suffered by the employee. Once the percentage has been determined, it will be multiplied by a predetermined number of weeks. Finally, that number is multiplied by two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage. The resulting number will indicate the amount of benefits that the injured party can receive over a certain period of time.
To speak with a Cumming workers compensation attorney about your own case, please contact the Spillers Law Firm at (678) 208-0800. You can also reach us by completing one of our brief online contact forms. We are eager to help you throughout each step of your case.
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At Spillers Law Firm, we never lose sight of our number one goal — to obtain maximum compensation for you. Whether your case requires litigation, negotiation or simply waiting for the best settlement offer, we know how to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.
These settlement amounts are more than just money. They are a means of regaining the peace of mind, safety and security that was taken from you when you were injured.
Our clients often express just how much they truly appreciate the genuine concern and compassion shown by our staff. They also appreciate our attorneys’ willingness to wait for a better settlement or for an opportunity to litigate. This means that he does not settle for the first offer that comes along. The goal is maximum compensation for our clients.
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