How Much Is a Workers' Comp Shoulder Injury Settlement?
November 9, 2023 · 4 min read
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Workers suffered nearly 78,000 shoulder injuries in 2020 and nearly half them missed about a month or more of work, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).1 If you can’t work because of a shoulder injury you suffered on the job, you could qualify for workers’ compensation. Benefits include weekly payments as replacement for lost wages and coverage for medical expenses. For workers who miss an extended period, a big workers’ comp settlement may also be on the table.
How much is the average workers' comp shoulder injury settlement?
The average workers’ comp settlement for a shoulder injury is $49,838, based on 2023 data from the National Safety Council. That includes $24,017 as an indemnity payment from the insurance company and another $25,821 to cover medical expenses.2
However, there is no single payment amount for shoulder injuries. Some factors that affect how much you could get in a settlement for a shoulder injury include the type of injury you have, how severe your injury is, how long your injury is expected to keep you out of work, and whether other parts of your body were also injured.
For example, a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery will probably result in a bigger settlement than a frayed rotator cuff that will heal on its own with rest. But injuries that also affect your neck, head, spine, or upper back could also have much bigger payouts than just a rotator cuff injury.
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Do all shoulder injuries qualify for workers’ comp?
A shoulder injury can qualify for workers’ comp as long as it happened while you were doing your job and it leaves you unable to work for multiple days. You also need to report your injury to your employer within a certain amount of time. If you don’t, you won’t qualify for benefits. Unfortunately, independent contractors can’t qualify for workers’ comp in most cases.
Otherwise, a wide range of injuries could qualify, including anything that results in shoulder weakness, pain, stiffness, loss of movement, or a decreased range of motion. You can also qualify if your injury affects multiple parts of your body, like your shoulder and arm, neck, or spine.
Examples of workers’ comp shoulder injuries
The list below doesn’t include all shoulder injuries that could qualify for workers’ comp but it does include many of the common injuries.
Broken bones, including the shoulder blade (scapula), collarbone, clavicle
Pinched nerves (radiculopathy)
Rotator cuff injury, such as a tear or fray
Separated shoulder and other joint injuries
Shoulder impingement syndrome
You will also qualify whether the injury was caused by a one-time accident (like tripping and falling on your shoulder) or from repeated strain over time (like from doing the same motion for years).
When does workers’ comp offer a settlement for a shoulder injury?
Not every workers’ comp case ends in a settlement but it's more common if you’ll be out of work for a significant length of time or you need expensive medical care. Long-term cases — like if you’ll never fully recover from your injury or illness — could also lead to a settlement.
Two of the most common points for insurance to request a settlement are soon after benefits start or as you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Serious injuries could lead to a quick settlement if the insurance company wants to avoid months or years of payments and medical bills. On the other hand, the insurer may wait until you get close to MMI to see if you’ll return to work soon or if your injury will qualify for permanent benefits.
You can respond to a settlement offer in a few ways:
Accept the settlement.
Reject the settlement (and continue receiving benefits).
Negotiate the settlement amount.
Regardless of your situation, talking with a workers’ comp lawyer can help if you just got a settlement offer. A local lawyer will understand how much is a reasonable settlement based on your injury, your job, the cost of medical care in your area, and other factors.
The goal is to make sure your settlement is enough to cover your current and future medical expenses as well as all the other bills you need to pay each month while you’re out of work. If the offer you get isn’t enough to cover all that, negotiating for a higher payout is likely the best option. Again, a lawyer can help you determine how much you need from a settlement and negotiate a better deal for you.
How much does workers’ comp pay if I don’t settle?
Workers’ comp usually provides weekly checks worth up to two-thirds (66.67%) of your average pre-injury wage. However, exact pay rates vary by state, so check how much workers’ comp pays in your state to see what your checks could be worth.
Payments usually end when you either go back to your previous job, reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), or agree to settlement. If you reach MMI but still can't work, your doctor should give you a permanent impairment rating between 0 and 100. A higher rating will result in higher or longer permanent disability benefits, with some states offering lifetime payments.
Does workers’ comp cover my medical bills?
In addition to weekly payments, workers’ compensation should pay for medical expenses that are necessary for you to recover from your injury. Those payments usually go straight to your doctors or medical providers.
Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
You don’t need a lawyer but if your employer or their insurance company wants you to accept a settlement, we recommend getting professional help from a lawyer. They’ll know how much you could get based on your specific shoulder injury, and then help you negotiate the best settlement deal. As long as you find a reputable lawyer, your first consultation is free and you won’t pay anything until after you get a settlement. Atticus can quickly connect with an experienced lawyer in your area.
Call us to get help with your workers' comp claim today.
Common questions about workers’ comp shoulder injuries
Who qualifies for workers’ comp?
Most full-time and part-time workers can qualify for workers’ comp, but independent contractors, consultants, and freelancers don’t usually qualify.
How much will my settlement be for a shoulder injury?
The average workers’ comp settlement for a shoulder injury is about $50,000 nationally, but you could get much more or less depending on your situation. If you want to maximize your settlement, contact an Atticus workers’ comp attorney. Settlements with our attorneys are twice as high as claims without an attorney, on average.
Should I accept a workers’ comp settlement?
It depends on your personal situation. Negotiating is best in many cases, but we recommend getting a lawyer’s opinion before you make any decision. They can help you negotiate enough to cover your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, and other bills while you’re out of work.
Will shoulder surgery increase my workers’ comp settlement?
It depends. Shoulder surgery could increase your potential settlement if it doesn’t lead to a recovery or if you have complications. But it could decrease your potential settlement if it greatly improves your symptoms or recovery time. Get a more detailed answer in our guide to when surgery increases workers’ comp settlements.
Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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