Page Updated: August 3, 2021
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injury cases are some of the hardest to go to trial for and to get fair settlements from. This is because of new “get tough” tactics used by insurance companies who do everything they can to deny soft tissue injury claims and limit room for insurance adjusters to negotiate on settlements.
This means incredibly low initial offers on settlement and refusal to go higher than these low amounts with cases sent straight to litigation with the insurance company’s attorneys.
This article will help you understand:
♦ What do we mean by soft tissue?
♦ What is a soft tissue injury?
♦ How long is recovery for these injuries?
♦ Can I get soft tissue damage in my back after a car accident?
♦ How you can prove your case and maximize your soft tissue injury claim in court
Read more below to get useful and informative information on how you can maximize your soft tissue injury settlement.
Table of Contents
General Settlement Information
12 – About the Author
Soft Tissue Injury Symptoms
I had a car accident, do I have a soft tissue injury? You may be wondering if your pain is a soft tissue injury. The first thing you need to know is what soft tissue injury damage is to identify if you have this kind of injury.
What is Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue in your body includes fat, muscles, blood vessels, tendons, nerves and really all the tissue that surrounds your joints and your bones.
This means that it can cause pain to your ankles, knees, joints, wrists, and nearly all parts of the body.
Soft tissue is therefore in all parts of the body, including things like the heart, that are not classified as a bone. Soft tissue will include:
♦ Blood Vessels
♦ Lymph Vessels
Symptoms Of Soft Tissue Damage
Your question now may be whether or not you have a soft tissue injury after your car accident. Since these kinds of injuries can affect almost all parts of the body, many symptoms exist that you will likely feel.
Some of the most common symptoms which may indicate that you have a soft tissue injury are:
♦ Muscle Spasms
♦ Pain and Swelling
♦ Inability to Bear any Weight
♦ Weakness in Your Muscles
♦ Muscle Cramping
It is important however to know that you need prompt medical care and assessment to know what injury you have and exactly which soft tissue injury your car accident has caused you to sustain so that there is concrete documentation. This way, if a jury needs to decide your case they will have all the necessary evidence to make a complete and fair evaluation of how badly you were hurt.
Common Soft Tissue Injuries
It is important to note that soft tissue damage can affect any part of the body because soft tissue is in all parts of the body. This means that from your ankles to your neck and everything in between, there can be damage to your soft tissue in an accident.
Ligaments connect the bones and vessels of the body together. These are spread throughout the legs, arms, back, chest, and neck as well as other parts of the body. Soft tissue injuries after a car accidents tends to affect these ligaments detrimentally.
Injuries to the ligaments can as a byproduct cause there to be tearing and damage to the nerves that are connected to the tissue as well. The impact of an accident can cause ligaments that hold together vital bones like the ones in the knee, to become weakened and to disconnect from each other or tear.
A torn ligament can mean knees, wrists and ankles are weakened due to the very muscles that hold them together becoming damaged in what can be traumatic manners.
This pain can radiate from where the injury happened to adjacent parts of the body creating large amounts of overall pain.
Injury to Tendons
Injury to the tendons is called tendonitis and occurs when there is inflammation in the tendons. Tendons are found in the fingers, elbows, wrists, and many other parts of the body.
In an accident, these can become injured through the force of the accident – via sudden change in velocity – and then lead to painful inflammation which causes immobility and chronic pain.
This injury can cause you to have a cracking sound when you move the injured body part, overall difficulty moving at all, as well as swelling and pain and tenderness.
Tendon injury can become debilitating as this is often seen in soft tissue injury cases after car accidents with shoulder trauma which leads to the inability to even lift your arms over your head making daily tasks feel impossible without excruciating pain.
Strains and Sprains
The fact that these soft tissue elements are in the entire body means that major areas of the torso and neck are often affected with these injuries. This includes strains and sprains in the neck, upper back and lower back.
Sprains and strains are due to the trauma of impact in car accidents which stretch muscles in abnormal manners and beyond their normal ability to stretch, and at a more rapid sudden stretch than is reasonably tolerable by your body.
Pains like this and injuries to the soft tissue in these parts of the body require immediate medical monitoring because they not only take time to present, they are also often hard to even see with diagnostic tools.
This means that despite sprains and strains being painful and often times debilitating, they will not easily show up on tests. However, a medical doctor can let you know the extent of these injuries and what treatment to get to help aid your recovery and manage your pain.
Bursitis occurs when there is trauma to the soft tissue in the knee or other areas that have a bursa sac in a car accident. When there is irritation of inflammation of the bursa sac in the knee, shoulder, elbows, etc., it affects your ability to move your legs without there being intense pain involved.
The bursa sac normally allows your knee or shoulder or other areas with this sac to move and the fluid in the sac ensures that there is ease in the rubbing of the bones, muscles and tendons in the area without pain from friction.
Some of the damage your soft tissue sustains after a car accident can take time to show up.
For example, lipoma is a fatty tumor that can form right below the skin. This is a slow growing tumor and recent research has shown that this can actually come about because of a soft tissue injury.
A soft tissue injury therefore can have both immediate injuries as well as ones that develop over time due to the impact sustained in a car accident.
Myalgia is the pain that you can get in a single or group of muscles after a car accident. Myalgia causes deep and widespread muscle pain which can be constant or intermittent with both severe pain as well as dull aching pain.
Myalgia can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as joint pain in affected areas as well as fatigue and chills. The debilitating nature of myalgia also often leads to depression due to the constant nature of the pain.
Tenosynovitis occurs when there is inflammation in the sheath that surrounds tendons. These are filled with a fluid and when they are damaged, it leads to swelling, stiffness and pain.
This painful condition commonly affects the feet, the wrists, the hands and any other part of the body that has this fluid filled sheath protecting the tendons.
This is damaged in a car accident which makes common daily tasks incredibly painful with sharp pains that make mobility nearly impossible without constant discomfort.
The MCL is also known as the medial collateral ligament and is located in the inside of the knee. When you have a car accident, this ligament can get damaged because during an accident the knee bends and moves in unnatural positions and in unnatural velocities.
Similarl to an ACL injury, an MCL tear can lead to symptoms such as:
♦ Swollen Knee
♦ Aching or Sharp Pain
♦ Inability to Stand
♦ Pain when you Walk
Soft Tissue Injury Treatments
Soft tissue damage requires a range of treatments but many have similar underlying actions but vary in intensity depending on the severity of the original injury.
Some treatments can offer immediate relief while others can only help to manage pain and help teach you how to accommodate your new injury as the results of the injury can be permanent.
In many cases, such as shoulder, knee or elbow injuries, surgery may be the only option to offer long-term pain relief and any return to normalcy.
Tears and rips in tendons and connective tissues may require surgery and there can be weeks to months of downtime before you are back to normal. This means an unfortunately large amount of lost wages and medical bills that the insurance company will try to not pay you, even if it was caused by the car accident.
Physical therapy is a common course of action after an accident to soft tissue. This can be a treatment on its own, or in conjunction with surgery.
Physical therapy can help you to recover from your injuries and also help you to strengthen the tendons and the muscles that have been injured in your car accident.
Rest and Immobilization
One method of dealing with more minor cases of soft tissue damage is to focus on getting rest and keeping the injured area immobilized long enough to ensure that it has time to recover.
This means lots of rest, using compression tools like braces and using combinations of heat and ice to treat the affected area. Keeping certain areas elevated and staying off your feet can also help ensure you do not further injure yourself and to control for pain.
Soft Tissue Injury Recovery Outlooks
Soft tissue damage recovery times and outlooks vary based on a range of which grade or what severity the injury is tied to. These kinds of injuries are broken down into grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 injuries.
A grade 1 injury is the mildest case of a soft tissue injury and can usually be recovered from quickly. These are faster to heal because they generally only include injury to about 10% of the muscle group or ligament that was damaged.
With non-invasive treatments like rest, compression and icing as well as OTC medications, recovery from these kinds of injuries can usually happen in a few days or at most a few short weeks.
A grade two injury takes a little longer and has a recovery time of a few weeks to a little over a month. These soft tissue injuries involve anywhere from 10%-90% of the ligament or tendon tearing and becoming damaged which means a longer recovery time and more treatment is needed such as cortisone injections and physical therapy.
A grade 3 injury is the most severe and means a very long recovery outlook which will be followed with injections to control inflammation, long periods of immobility and rest as well as the need for longer physical therapy and potentially invasive surgery.
In this grade of injury 90%-100% of the ligament of muscle is injured which means there is the complete tearing and rupture of the muscle or ligament.
This grade can severely immobilize you and mean a long road to recovery and potentially a permanent alteration in the affected area.
Proving Your Soft Tissue Injury
Soft tissue injury claims are some of the hardest to build a case for because of the push back of insurance companies on these injuries.
Because of this, soft tissue injury settlements become hard to secure and require you to document your injuries and losses as much as possible to ensure that you receive a soft tissue injury insurance settlement that is equitable given what you have been through.
Here are some steps to take which will help ensure the insurance company does not trick you out of a fair settlement for a soft tissue injury claim:
♦ Take pictures of the accident scene
♦ Save copies of all test results and doctor’s appointments
♦ Track and save all medical notes and records
♦ Keep a pain journal and track all limitations and events influenced by the accident (speak with a lawyer first, before doing this)
♦ Insist on and keep copies of imaging tests and results
♦ Communicate with your employer and document all work missed due to your injury
♦ Do not miss your follow up appointments and treatment with doctors of physical therapy
Read on to see what the average settlements are in soft tissue injury cases.
Soft Tissue Injury Case Settlement Averages
Soft tissue injury insurance claims can be hard to secure, but they are not impossible. While the insurance companies have a habit in soft tissue injury settlements to give a low initial offer, and often only give one offer, there are cases in which there have been fair and equitable payouts.
Insurance payouts for soft tissue damage often come on the low end because insurance companies use computers to generate an amount based on generic information which does not take you or your specific life facts into consideration.
Despite this, with competent representation, average insurance settlements for soft tissue injury cases have ranged on average between $10,000-$20,000 for soft tissue injuries like ankle injuries and neck and back related soft tissue sprains and strains.
Attorneys on our team have secured $30,000, $50,000, and $200,000 recoveries for clients with soft tissue injuries. In short, who your lawyer is makes a big difference.
Increasing Your Soft Tissue Injury Insurance Settlement
Can you increase your specific soft tissue injury settlement? Are there things you can do to make your payout better?
The answer is yes, and it will depend on how well you can show the insurance company that you are likely to win your case if it goes to trial.
Insurance companies no more like to go to trial than you do as it is a long and time consuming process. However, if they believe they can win and avoid paying you, they will meet you in court with their attorneys.
You can also show the insurance company that you have a strong case by securing the testimony of a competent medical professional who has experience treating patients with soft tissue injuries. That, combined with corroborative evidence of how your injuries have hurt your life will go a long way in helping the jury evaluate the full value of your damages.
Sample Verdicts & Settlements
VERDICT: $30,000. Plaintiff’s vehicle was hit from behind while stopped at the entrance of a shopping mall waiting to make a right turn. As a result of being rear-ended, plaintiff suffered soft tissue damage to her cervical tissue resulting in the need for medical treatments. Verdict was given to compensate for both medical damages as well as pain and suffering, both past and future pain and suffering.
VERDICT: $100,000.00 While at a traffic light, plaintiff was hit by a driver who ran through a red light. Plaintiff’s car was struck causing soft tissue damage to the neck requiring medical care including rehabilitation. Case was settled to cover both the medical expenses, past and future as well as cover for pain and suffering incurred in the accident as well.
VERDICT: $348.685.00 Plaintiff’s vehicle was from behind while stopped at a red light by an underinsured driver. Plaintiff received compensation for medical damages close to $100,000.00 and was also able to recover losses incurred for both economic and non-economic damages suffered during the accident as well as for future losses as well.
VERDICT: $106,000.00 While going through a green light, plaintiff was hit in the intersection by an underinsured driver. Case was settled with the insurance company, however, the insurance company did not cover the losses the plaintiff incurred in the accident. Plaintiff was able to get the case later settled in court to cover for the medical damages as well as pain and suffering.
Soft Tissue Injury Q&A
How much do insurance companies settle soft tissue injury cases for?
Insurance companies tend to lowball on soft tissue damage cases. They will initially offer you anywhere from $2,500-$10,000 for your case.
Soft tissue cases can be worth more than this. You will have to fight to ensure you get the value that you deserve from your settlement which will require making a case as to why you are right and why the defendant was at fault for your injury.
Is it important is it to prove fault in a soft tissue injury case?
Yes. It is very important in soft tissue injury cases to prove who was at fault in the case. These cases require this to be shown in a strong manner because it will affect the likelihood of you winning your case and getting the settlement that you deserve. When liability is in dispute, then the value of your case is compromised and you might get less for your honest injuries.
Will my soft tissue injury keep me from working?
Yes, it might. Soft tissue injuries, regardless of the grade that they are, will keep you from your normal activities, including working, for a period of time. This limitation on your life can be anywhere from a few days to as along as a few months depending on your injury and recovery time.
Are treatments for soft tissue injuries invasive?
Yes and no. This will depend on which treatment you need which itself is reliant on the different grades of soft tissue damage and which one you have sustained.
Some of the treatments for these injuries are less invasive than others, like the use of compression braces and icing the affected areas, while others like injections into the muscles and surgery, as well as physical therapy, can in fact be invasive and hard.
Are soft tissue damages serious injuries?
Yes, these are serious injuries and they require serious attention to be paid to both diagnosis and treatment. As proof, I’ll mention that a large body of literature supports the fact that approximately 40% of soft tissue injuries resulting from car accidents are permanent. Do not sweep these injuries under the rug!
If a soft tissue injury is not identified in a timely manner, the injury will only get worse over time making recovery harder and in some cases, impossible. Because of this, it is important to take these injuries seriously and get treatment as soon as possible.
Is a grade 3 soft tissue injury serious?
Yes, a grade 3 soft tissue injury is the most severe of all soft tissue injuries. This level of damage means that the tendon or ligament in question has been wholly destroyed and has ruptured therefore needing extensive recovery time and invasive treatment to get better.
Los Angeles Soft Tissue Insurance Claims Attorneys
Soft tissue injury claims are unique in that they are an uphill battle with insurance companies who use many tools to ensure you get the lowest settlement possible in the case of a claim.
Insurance companies systematically refuse to fairly compensate car accident victims with soft tissue injuries. The insurance companies will fight hard to deprive you of compensation that barely even covers your medical costs and lost wages, let alone your pain and suffering.
If you suffered a car accident soft tissue injury, let us fight the insurance company for you. Call, email, or message our Los Angeles personal injury team using the contact form below, 24/7, for your free consultation and learn how we can help you.
Citations for Supporting Literature & Resources:
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Boden, B. P., Sheehan, F. T., Torg, J. S., & Hewett, T. E. (2010). Non-contact ACL injuries: mechanisms and risk factors. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 18(9), 520.
Boyd III, J. I., & Wongworawat, M. D. (2004). High-pressure pulsatile lavage causes soft tissue damage. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research (1976-2007), 427, 13-17.
Green, N. D. (2003). Acute soft tissue neck injury from unexpected acceleration. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 74(10), 1085-1090.
Aust, M. C., Spies, M., Kall, S., Gohritz, A., Boorboor, P., Kolokythas, P., & Vogt, P. M. (2007). Lipomas after blunt soft tissue trauma: are they real? Analysis of 31 cases. British journal of dermatology, 157(1), 92-99
Mediswitch (2018) SPASM, EVERYDAY PAINFUL MUSCULOSKELETAL. “Sprains and strains.”
Godreuil, S., Marchandin, H., Terru, D., Le Moing, V., Chammas, M., Vincent, V., … & Carriere, C. (2006). Mycobacterium heckeshornense tenosynovitis. Scandinavian journal of infectious diseases, 38(11-12), 1098-1101.
Safer, V. B., Safer, U., & Kaya, L. (2016). An Unusual Os Trigonum Syndrome Case Secondary to Car Accident.
Aaron, D. L., Patel, A., Kayiaros, S., & Calfee, R. (2011). Four common types of bursitis: diagnosis and management. JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 19(6), 359-367.
Dommerholt, J. (2005). Persistent myalgia following whiplash. Current pain and headache reports, 9(5), 326-330.
Quinlan, K. P., Annest, J. L., Myers, B., Ryan, G., & Hill, H. (2004). Neck strains and sprains among motor vehicle occupants—United States, 2000. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 36(1), 21-27.
Centeno, C. J., Freeman, M., & Elkins, W. L. (2005). A review of the literature refuting the concept of minor impact soft tissue injury. Pain research and management, 10(2), 71-74.
Tu, Y. K., Yen, C. Y., Ma, C. H., Yu, S. W., Chou, Y. C., Lee, M. S., & Ueng, S. W. N. (2008). Soft-tissue injury management and flap reconstruction for mangled lower extremities. Injury, 39, 75-95.
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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