Shoulder Injuries in the Auto Industry

Workers' Compensation Lawyers for Injured Employees in Chicago

Those who work in the auto industry often have to slump forward, lift heavy loads, and handle vibration to do their work. As a result, they may suffer a wide range of shoulder injuries. These may include a dislocated shoulder, a torn ligament, shoulder impingement, clavicle fractures, joint separation, and minor sprains and strains. Sometimes tendons, ligaments, and muscles are damaged due to an acute or traumatic event. However, performing strenuous, repetitive tasks can result in injuries as well. If you have suffered shoulder injuries in the auto industry, a seasoned Chicago workers' compensation attorney can answer your questions and help you pursue benefits.

Shoulder Injuries in the Auto Industry

There are four muscles that form tendons to anchor the shoulder to the shoulder joint. The structure that holds the shoulder there is the rotator cuff, and it's supposed to allow the shoulder to move smoothly. However, if you are hit by a heavy object in the shoulder as you work, this could tear or strain the rotator cuff, and if you have to keep moving, the injury may worsen. Sometimes a shoulder injury arises because of a fracture in one of the three bones in the shoulder, which are the clavicle, shoulder blade, and upper arm bone. For example, if you fall in the workplace, you might sustain a clavicle fracture.

Shoulder dislocation is another common injury. A shoulder is ordinarily flexible and capable of a great deal of movement, but it can also move out of alignment. Sometimes it is possible to pop the shoulder joint into place, but there are traumatic dislocations, too, in which ligaments are torn or nerves are damaged. Another serious injury is a separated shoulder, which can result from a fall directly on the shoulder. Sometimes a worker becomes visibly injured in addition to experiencing significant pain due to the ligaments being torn from the collarbone.

Filing a Claim

Most employers need to have workers' compensation coverage in Illinois. They can be covered either by buying a workers' compensation policy from a private insurer or by becoming self-insured. The system is a no-fault system, in which you can recover benefits without showing that your employer was negligent, and even if you are to blame for your own shoulder injuries. You should be able to obtain benefits if your injury happened while you were working, or if it was caused by work activities.

The first step towards obtaining benefits is to notify your employer of the job-related shoulder injury. If you don't let your employer know within 45 days, you could lose benefits. You should provide notice in writing in case there's a dispute about whether you gave notice. In addition, your employer may require you to fill out an accident report. You should also seek immediate medical treatment, since in most cases, insurers may be suspicious that your shoulder injury is not work-related if you delay in either getting treatment or providing notice.

After providing notice, your employer is supposed to tell you how to get medical care that will be covered. The employer is required to report the injury to its insurer, and insurer is supposed to determine your eligibility for benefits. The insurer may conduct surveillance as part of its investigation; this may include social media and other surveillance to try and determine whether something else, such as weightlifting during your off-hours, might have caused your shoulder injury. The insurer's investigation may also include reviewing your medical records to look for preexisting conditions; analyzing your education and work experience; ordering you to get an independent medical exam; and requiring you to get a functional capacity evaluation.

The insurer is supposed to approve or deny benefits promptly. When a claim is approved, you will receive disability payments along with other benefits. However, sometimes an insurer issues a denial, even when a claim is legitimate. If your claim is denied, you will need to file an application for adjustment of claim within 3 years of your injury or 2 years from your last wage loss or medical payment.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Serving the Chicago Area

If you have suffered shoulder injuries in the auto industry in Chicago, a workers' compensation lawyer can help you understand your rights and seek coverage for your medical expenses and lost income. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, our attorneys represent injured workers in communities including Quincy, Springfield, Aurora, Champaign, and Rockford, as well as Adams, Kane, Cook, Sangamon, Winnebago, and Champaign Counties. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contacting us online.