Rotator Cuff Tears
One of the most common injuries we see here at Shaw Law Offices is the rotator cuff tear after a fall. This occurs for a couple reasons:
- Clients who fall tend to be a bit older than the general population; and
- The outstretched arm to brace for a fall is a common position for people who slip on ice and snow.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons (not a specific tendon or ligament). It attaches to the shoulder joint bones and allows a person to move the arm upwards and also keeps the shoulder joint stable. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket type joint. The top portion of the humerus (arm bone) forms a joint-like form with the scapula (often called the “shoulder blade”). The rotator cuff “holds” or “fixes” the head of the humerus bone into the scapula. It controls the movement of the shoulder joint which is used by the common person hundreds of times a day or week.
But, a rotator cuff tear happens when one of these tendons is torn from the bone. There are two common ways this “tear” occurs and it is very important to know the difference in a legal claim. One way is from chronic use (usage over time) and the other is from an “acute” or “traumatic” event like a slip and fall injury.
Persons who use their shoulder joint repeatedly like painters or others might experience a “chronic” tear of the rotator cuff over time. Oftentimes, the rotator cuff tendons become frayed or almost torn, but it isn’t until the slip and fall that causes the final snap.
These types of trip and fall or slip and fall cases tend to have lower settlement values compared to the younger person who experiences a rotator cuff tear of an “a sudden acute” nature which may happen when you fall on your arm while it is stretched out.
A chronic tear of the rotator cuff tendon happens progressively slowly over time. It is likely you might feel that condition over time and be diagnosed with chronic tendinitis or impingement syndrome at some point prior to the final tear. Eventually, the tendons wear down and a full tear occurs.
A rotator cuff injury is one of the most painful of all injuries and the physical therapy that occurs after an operation has been described as very painful in nature.
Sometimes, a treating physician will be asked during a deposition (sworn statement outside of court) whether the rotator cuff tear diagnosed on the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is “acute” or “chronic.” An orthopedic surgeon or other doctor might be able to opine that a tear was “acute” in nature if the tear appears to be “fresh”. A fresh tear looks different than a chronic tear in that the tendons have not started to shrink or look withered.
An “acute” rotator cuff tear is a very serious operation and has a higher settlement value than a chronic tear.
Additionally, there are two kinds of tears:
A partial tear happens when the tendons do not become fully detached from the bone.
But, a complete, full thickness tear occurs when the tear goes completely through the tendon. Complete tears do not heal on their own as there is no blood supply to the tendon in order to accomplish healing.
This type of detached tear requires a surgery in which the tendons are “tied” back to the shoulder.
Here is an example of a rotator cuff surgery. They can cost over $50,000 in medical expenses and bills.
Cases involving rotator cuff surgeries are very serious and need an experienced slip and fall attorney like those at Shaw Law Offices.
With over 30+ years experience and several jury trials involving “rotator cuff tears”, Attorney Jeff JJ Shaw is the right man for the job to get you the compensation you deserve.
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