Workers’ Compensation Shoulder Injuries

Workers’ Compensation Shoulder Injuries

Workers’ compensation shoulder injury settlements are available for those who have suffered work-related injuries. Workplace shoulder injuries can hinder a person’s ability to work, necessitating treatments, and leading to high medical costs. It is helpful for injured workers to understand how workers’ comp works for shoulder injuries to ensure that they receive the benefits they need. 

Mature foreman in workwear giving first aid to female subordinate in pain. workers' compensation shoulder injury settlements

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can result from sudden accidents, repetitive stress, heavy lifting, or other causes.

Common Causes of Workplace Shoulder Injuries

Workplace shoulder injuries are a common occurrence in various industries, often resulting in pain, disability, and lost productivity. These injuries can be caused by a range of factors, such as accidents and chronic conditions. Understanding the common causes of workplace shoulder injuries is crucial for preventing them and promoting a safe work environment.

Some of the most common causes of shoulder injuries in the workplace include:

  • Overexertion. One of the primary causes of shoulder injuries is overexertion. Employees involved in jobs that require lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy objects without using proper lifting techniques are at risk of getting injured. Improper techniques can strain the shoulder muscles and lead to injuries like strains or tears.
  • Repetitive Motion. Repetitive tasks that involve continuous shoulder movements, such as assembly line work, data entry, or painting, can lead to overuse injuries. Conditions like rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis, and bursitis can develop over time due to this repeated stress.
  • Poor Ergonomics. Inadequate workstation ergonomics can force employees into awkward postures, causing stress on the shoulders. This is a common issue in office settings, where improper chair and desk setups can result in discomfort and musculoskeletal problems.
  • Falls. Workplace falls, slips, and trips can result in shoulder injuries, particularly if employees try to break their fall by extending their arms. This can lead to shoulder trauma, dislocations, or fractures.
  • Impact or Trauma. Industries with high-impact activities, such as construction or manufacturing, can expose workers to the risk of getting struck by objects or other types of machinery accidents, leading to acute shoulder injuries.

Types of Shoulder Injuries Typically Covered by Workers’ Compensation

Shoulder injuries can range from mild to severe, and may require physical therapy or shoulder surgery. Common workplace injuries include:


A shoulder fracture can occur when due to a direct blow to the shoulder. The symptoms of this injury include intense pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, and difficulty moving the impacted limb.

Rotator Cuff Tears

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder. Tears of the rotator cuff are a common injury, causing arm weakness, difficulty moving the arm, shoulder pain, and difficulty sleeping. Treatment starts with conservative measures, like ice, pain medication, and physical therapy. Surgery may be necessary if other treatments are unsuccessful.


Shoulder impingement is a prevalent injury that occurs when workers have to raise their hands above their shoulders. This action can cause irritation to the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles, leading to pain, shoulder weakness, and difficulty raising the arm. The standard treatment for this condition involves icing the injury, medication to manage pain, and following a physical therapy program.


Shoulder dislocation is a condition where the upper arm bone comes out of the shoulder socket. Once a worker has experienced a shoulder dislocation, the chances of future dislocations increases. There are several treatment options available, which include immobilization, physical therapy, and surgery. In severe cases, there can be complications like muscle, tendon, or ligament tears, nerve damage, and blood vessel damage.


Bursitis is a painful condition that occurs when small, fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which cushion the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the shoulder, become inflamed. Symptoms include pain, redness, and swelling in the affected area. It can result in limited mobility and a fever. Treatments include medication, rest, physical therapy, and cortisone injections. In rare cases, surgery may be required to drain the bursae.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is a complication that typically arises due to inadequate medical treatment or physical therapy for a prior shoulder injury. This condition results in stiffness and chronic pain in the shoulder, while also leading to severe loss of motion. The average settlement for these cases is often higher than other injuries.

Impact of Shoulder Injuries on Workers’ Ability to Perform Job Duties

After a shoulder injury, returning to work can be quite challenging. Most people with jobs that require frequent use of their arms face difficulties during the recovery phase. Some common jobs that are particularly challenging after shoulder injuries include those that require lifting heavy objects, repetitive use of arms for reaching or lifting, and working with arms overhead or above shoulder level. Even if your job doesn’t require any of these, a shoulder injury can still make it difficult to return to work.

Process of Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Shoulder Injury Settlements

After a work injury, a workers’ compensation claim checklist can help you navigate the necessary steps.

Reporting a Shoulder Injury

If you get injured on the job in Illinois, you must report the incident to your employer within 45 days. Failing to do so may result in the insurance company denying your claim. They may argue that your injuries occurred after the workplace accident, or that your injuries worsened because of the delay in reporting.

Evaluating the Severity of the Shoulder Injury

Once your employer has received notification, he or she should refer you for medical evaluation and treatment. A physician will assess the severity of your injuries and offer his or her opinion on if and when you can resume your normal work tasks. Additionally, your doctor will determine when you have achieved maximum medical improvement, indicating that your condition cannot be further improved. This information can be used in determining the compensation you are eligible to receive in your workers’ compensation claim.

Diagnosis and Medical Documentation

You should keep your medical records while you continue with your treatment. Make sure to obtain copies of all medical reports, bills, doctors’ opinions, pharmacy receipts, insurance statements, and any other paperwork that pertains to your medical care. Additionally, it may be helpful to keep a diary or journal to record your pain levels and note how your injuries are impacting your daily life.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

To file for workers’ compensation, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fill out applicable forms and send them to your employer, who forwards the information to his or her insurance. In Illinois, you must provide copies of the signed application to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The deadline to file a claim is 3 years from the injury date or two years from the last workers’ compensation benefit payment. Once the insurance company receives your claim, they will assign an adjuster to determine its validity and inform you of your benefits.

Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney

Why hire an attorney for your workers’ compensation claim? An attorney can assist you with filing your workers’ compensation claim, negotiating on your behalf, and representing you in court if necessary. Your attorney will assess how your injury has impacted your employment, health, and finances, and work closely with you to secure the benefits you are entitled to in Illinois. With his or her assistance, you can ensure that you receive a just settlement that covers your medical expenses and lost wages due to the injury.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Shoulder Injuries

Injured workers can pursue financial compensation for medical care, lost wages, vocational rehabilitation, and long-term care. In some cases, surviving family members can pursue death benefits if a workplace accident turns fatal.

Medical Care

The medical benefits that workers’ compensation should cover include doctor visits, pain relief prescriptions, surgery, medical equipment, physical therapy, and transportation costs.

Lost Wages

If you don’t undergo surgery, the average recovery time for a shoulder injury can vary from weeks to months, depending on the type and severity of the injury. During this period, workers’ compensation can provide temporary disability benefits, which typically pays about two-thirds of your gross salary in Illinois. These wages are paid until your doctor says you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement. After that, you may receive permanent partial disability benefits or permanent disability benefits, depending on the long-term impact of the shoulder injury.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If you are unable to return to work due to a work-related injury or disability, workers’ compensation offers vocational rehabilitation services such as job training, career counseling, and assistance in finding new employment.

Ongoing Care

Workers’ compensation insurance can cover ongoing care for severe work-related injuries or illnesses requiring long-term treatment, including physical therapy expenses.

Death Benefits

If a family member dies due to a work-related incident, workers’ compensation provides death benefits that include compensation to the spouse, children, or dependents of the decedent. These benefits provide compensation for the loss of financial support and coverage for funeral and burial expenses.

author-bio-image author-bio-image
David W. Martay

David W. Martay, a partner at Martay Law Office in Chicago, IL, is a top-rated workers’ compensation lawyer who represents injured employees throughout the state. Known as a highly-skilled advocate for his clients, David has recovered millions for victims of workplace accidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active

Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association

author-bio-image author-bio-image
David W. Martay

David W. Martay, a partner at Martay Law Office in Chicago, IL, is a top-rated workers’ compensation lawyer who represents injured employees throughout the state. Known as a highly-skilled advocate for his clients, David has recovered millions for victims of workplace accidents.

Years of Experience: More than 25 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active

Bar Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association