Article Updated: January 3, 2022

Shoulder Injury From Car Accident

Shoulder InjuryShoulder injury cases are often undervalued by insurance companies which leads to lower than deserved shoulder injury compensation payouts.

Many common shoulder injuries from car accidents require intensive medical care and lead to inability to carry on with daily tasks. If you feel pain in your shoulder blade after a car accident, it is possible that you have a sprain, a strain or a dislocation that will need medical care and considerable recovery time.

In this article you will get help understanding what to do if you have shoulder pain after a car accident with information on things such as:

♦   What are common shoulder injuries?

♦   Did my seatbelt cause my shoulder pain and damage?

♦   Are there long recovery periods after shoulder injury?

♦   What is shoulder impingement?

♦   How much is the average shoulder injury compensation amount?

Scroll down to get more information on shoulder injuries.


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Shoulder Pain After Car Accident

If your shoulder hurts after an accident the first thing is to identify if you have shoulder damage. Shoulder injuries can present pain in many parts of the body adjacent to the shoulders which can cause confusion.

Some common symptoms of shoulder damage include:

   Instability in your shoulder

   Limited range of motion

   Pain or soreness when making normal movements

   Weakness in shoulder

   Persistent or numbing pain

Shoulder pain from a car accident can be the result of major or small injuries. Not all shoulder injuries can be seen and identified easily.  A sore shoulder after a car accident should be a sign that you may have some level of injury that needs treatment and attention.

What is Shoulder Damage

Shoulder damage refers to the damage that occurs to parts of the shoulder such as the shoulder blade or the collar bone.

In addition to the major bones that are in the shoulder, there are also other parts of the shoulder that can also become damaged, such as muscles, tissue and arteries.

Understanding the parts of the shoulder can help you navigate your injury better

Parts of the Shoulder

While there are many types of shoulder pains after car accidents and many parts of the shoulder can get damaged, the most common are as follows:

Parts of the Shoulder for Injury Analysis

   Scapula, also commonly known as the shoulder blade

   Clavicle, also known as the collar bone

   Arm Bone, referred to also as the humerus bone

Shoulder Pain after your car accident

When in an accident, the shoulders will be a main part of the body that can sustain trauma.

This is due to the fact that the shoulder is going to have damage from the trauma and thrusting of the body during the accident, as well as from the seatbelt that is placing pressure on the shoulder.

Shoulder pain after a wreck is therefore very common and can be linked to both the accident itself and the safety belt that was intended to keep you safe.

Injuries range from dislocations to sprains and strains. Shoulder pain from car accidents may not always seem serious because they do not require an emergency situation with an ambulance to the ER, but they are in fact able to seriously damage your ability to live a normal life due to the pain and recovery time.

Common Shoulder Injuries

The upper part of the body can become damaged both due to the impact of the accident and the seatbelt; both of which are common in most vehicle crashes.

Sprains to Shoulder

A sprain to the shoulder means that the tissue around the shoulder was damaged in some manner. This injury happens when the tissue or ligaments in the shoulder are stretched beyond what they are normally able to do.

This happens because of the impact of the accident and can cause severe shoulder pain after a wreck.

While most shoulder sprains can be dealt with through non-invasive treatment, not realizing you have this injury can cause you to further injure yourself making a normally non-serious injury one that can become serious and lead to long-term damage.

The real issue with that is something called mitigation of damages.  If you do something during your recovery that makes your injury worse, you could be on the hook for that.  Said differently, the other driver and/or his insurance company may not have to reimburse you for that injury.


A dislocation will cause far more serious shoulder pain after a car accident. Dislocations occur when the ball and socket joints of the upper arm and shoulder separate from each other. This directly impacts the shoulder blade and the pain reverberates and affects other parts of the body such as the neck.

A dislocation of your shoulder can be serious and may require surgery in some cases. A dislocation can cause serious shoulder pain from car accidents whether it is the kind of dislocation that can simply be popped back into place by a physician, or the kind that needs surgery and long-term recovery time.

Chronic Pain from Shoulder Strains

Injury and trauma to some parts of the shoulder can cause chronic pain even after treatment is done.

This pain can become debilitating and is brought on by injuries such as fractures to the bones in the shoulder, traumatic dislocations of the bones, or failing to seek treatment in a timely manner when injuries take place to the shoulders.

Floating Shoulder

A floating shoulder injury happens when there are fractures of the clavicle bone in the shoulder.

While a rare occurrence, this injury is able to brought on by damage to the shoulder in a car accident and is also known as a double disruption of the superior shoulder.

Floating shoulder injuries may require surgical intervention.

Shoulder Fractures and Tears

Fractures and tears are also common injuries to the shoulder. If you have a sore shoulder after a car accident, it can be from a tear to the muscles that connect the shoulder bones together. These often require diagnostic tests to identify.

During a severe accident, it is also possible for the collarbone or the shoulder blade to break which requires in some cases surgery.

Seat Belt Injuries To Shoulder

If your shoulder hurts after an accident, it can be related to the safety belt you were wearing. Often times, shoulder pain after an accident is caused by tears to the tissues and muscles around the shoulder bones. Seatbelt injuries to the shoulder are common and cause serious pain.

The trauma of an accident can cause impact that damages tendons as well as bones which lead to sore shoulders and intense pain. Shoulder pain from seatbelts can therefore be intense and require major downtime for some individuals.

Clavicle fractures can often happen in a car accident and cause long-term recovery outlooks. This is considered a non-serious injury, not because it is not serious, but because it is seen comparatively to what could have happened without the safety belt and often has routine healing without surgery.

Common Seatbelt injuries to shoulders include:



   Broken Bones

   Torn Muscles

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder pain from a car accident can also be related to a condition known as shoulder impingement.shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement occurs when the tendons and muscles in the shoulder become inflamed due to trauma that causes them to tear or stretch beyond their capability.

Shoulder impingement syndrome can be caused by a car accident; i.e., it is a likely mechanism of injury.

A sore shoulder after a car accident needs to be checked out medically and with diagnostic tests like X-Rays and MRIs because often injuries like shoulder impingement can present as pain in the neck but is really pain from damage to the shoulder.

A shoulder impingement car accident settlement will rely on these tests being presented to prove the injury has taken place, and the extent of the impingement.

Shoulder Injury Treatments

Shoulder injuries can range in severity and specific injury type. Because of this, there are a range of treatments that are used depending on which injury you have and how severe it is.

More serious injuries will require the wearing of slings, splints or braces to keep the area in place while you recover.

Other injuries will need, in addition to these apparatuses, surgery to help fix major trauma to the bones and tissues of the shoulder.

Less severe cases can be treated with non-invasive treatments that can be done from home such as:

  Icing affected area

  Taking over the counter or prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medications

  Rest and not using the shoulders to avoid exasperating the affected area

  Using heat to treat the shoulder

Depending on which level of injury you have, you will have different outlook times for recovery, too.

Shoulder Injury Recovery Outlooks

Shoulder injury recovery, like most traumatic injuries, can vary epending on the individual and the injury type.

Some injuries can take months to recover (e.g., major dislocations of the shoulder), and these can become a long-term recurring concern. This is why dislocated shoulder compensation is often higher, because it takes this possibility into consideration.

Some shoulder injuries, like a dislocation, can take upwards of 6 months to a year to recover from.

A broken clavicle can take 4-8 weeks on average to recover from.

On the other hand, some shoulder injuries will heal fully with no further treatment needed.

Shoulder injury compensation payouts take these recovery outlooks into consideration when calculating the settlement value for a shoulder injury claim.

A lot of this is baked into the future economic and non-economic losses, depending on where you are in your treatment and recovery when it comes time to settle your case.  In some situations, it’s advantageous for you to delay your settlement so you have a better history of what your injuries and treatment are.  This should be decided on a case by case basis for shoulder, and all, injuries.

How Much Compensation Will I Get For A Shoulder Injury?

Shoulder injury compensation amounts often in fact are related to the outlook potential for recovery. For example, in some cases, it is possible to develop dysfunction in the shoulders and surrounding area if the trauma is severe in an accident which will affect how much compensation you will get for a shoulder injury.

Lump sum payment for shoulder injury will therefore be related to which injury you have, i.e. a break, a dislocation, a tear, and how severe the incident was and how much treatment and downtime you will need.

Shoulder injury compensation payouts are more favorable in cases where there is the ability to show the trauma was impactful and severe. The settlement value for a shoulder dislocation for example ranges on average $4,000 to $10,000.

Settlement value for shoulder injury claims related to broken collarbones on the other hand range on average between $11,000 and $18,000.

Shoulder injury compensation amounts can range a great deal and will depend on which injury you have sustained.

Shoulder Injury Sample Verdicts & Settlements

$300,000 – Left-turn pickup truck accident settlement with resulting shoulder injury

$250,000 – Rear end vehicle accident settlement causing a shoulder injury

$200,000 – Side-swipe motorcycle accident settlement with shoulder injury

$130,000 – Head on car accident settlement which caused a shoulder injury

$110,000 – Left turn car accident settlement with a shoulder injury

$100,000 – Rear end car accident settlement with shoulder injury

$85,000 – Vehicle accident settlement that caused a shoulder injury

$65,000 – Rear end car accident settlement with shoulder injury

$55,000 – Car accident settlement that included a shoulder injury

$50,000 – Car accident settlement with shoulder injury

$45,000 – Vehicle accident verdict with shoulder injury

Arm & Shoulder Injury Q&A

Can a car accident cause chronic arm and shoulder pain?

Yes, you can have many injuries to your arms and shoulders including torn muscles, broken bones, fractures, nerve damage and more and many of these can become chronic issues that last a lifetime.

How serious can my shoulder injury be in an accident?

Very serious. From dislocations and broken bones to serious nerve damage, an injury to your shoulders can cause you pain that will be permanent and can also be debilitating to your daily life.

Will my shoulder injury be permanent?

Not all shoulder injuries are permanent but many of them can be, especially if the crash is serious. You should seek the advice and guidance of a medical professional to assess the extent and severity of your injuries as well as understand your possible treatment options as well.

Can I get compensation for a rotator cuff injury?

Arm and shoulder injuries including rotator cuff injuries have an average payout amount of $50,000 to well over $100,000.  So yes, you can get compensation for rotator cuff injuries.

What should I do right after my arm or shoulder injury?

Time is of the essence in these cases and you should get to an ER or a doctor’s office right away to make sure you are not making any movements that can make your injury worse.

Los Angeles Lawyers Here to Help
With Your Shoulder Injury Claims

Shoulder injury claims are some of the hardest to navigate because they will often be undervalued by insurance companies from the start.

This means that you will need to work hard to prove your case and the severity of your injuries as the insurance company will work hard to show why you do not deserve a bigger payout.

Getting help with a free consultation can mean the difference between getting a settlement that helps you recover damages that you deserve, and one that undervalues your pain and suffering.

Contact our Los Angeles injury lawyers for a free consultation at any time to see how we can help you in your shoulder injury case.

You can reach us by phone, email, or submit the contact form below to speak with a lawyer right now.

Lawyer Experienced in Herniated Disc Injuries

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About the Author

Article Author:  This law article was written by attorney Ray Benyamin, Esquire.  Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California.  His law license number is 277263.  He has been practicing law for 10 years.  Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ).  Mr. Benyamin has personally helped his clients recover over $10,000,000 in vehicle accident insurance claims in the State of California.

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