Shoulder injuries are surprisingly common in the American workplace, typically due to the heavy lifting, stretching and performance of other heavy labor tasks. A shoulder injury can be severe, painful and debilitating.
A typical worker often first seeks out conservative medical care, such as injections and therapy to see if the injury can be resolved without surgery. Unfortunately, many times, the worker must undergo surgery on their shoulder and ultimately physical therapy.
While in this status of recuperating from the conservative care or surgery, the worker is generally put in a status known as “temporary total” (TTD) or “temporary partial” (TPD) disability. If he or she is unable to work at all, they are placed in TTD and receive two-thirds of their average monthly wage. If they are in a partial work ability designation, such as light-duty, then their earnings are deducted from TTD payments and so they would get a check from the insurance company and their employer.
Typically, shoulder injuries are so severe that there aren’t many opportunities for light-duty work, or the employer doesn’t have opportunities for light duty if the injured worker is in a heavy labor trade.
In such cases, the worker will ultimately finish his or her recuperation until they reach a point known as “maximum medical improvement”, or MMI. This is the point when the worker can go to the doctor every day, but will not get any better or any worse.
When MMI is reached, the doctor who has declared the individual most improved, but not cured, rates the injured worker based on a medical book known as the AMA Guidelines to Permanently Disability. This book allows the doctor to put a numerical rating on the injured worker’s shoulder.
However, the most important aspect at this point in the case is the listing of what the worker can and cannot do in terms of work—or, in other words, what are his or her work restrictions.
Even if they are able to work, what can the injured worker do with their injured shoulder in terms of pushing, pulling, lifting overhead and weight limitations?
These are important questions.
It’s also important to know the injured worker’s employment and professional background so that we know what jobs he or she might be able to fit into, as well as their prior work history and educational ability. Knowing these skills, past work history and education can help us better advise the injured worker whether or not they can return to some kind of gainful employment and earn a monthly wage or not.
Shoulder injuries are common causes of workers’ compensation claims, and most are complicated. If you require the assistance of a Certified Specialist by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski to schedule your free initial consultation.