Rear-end Collision Causes Rotator Cuff Tear and Permanent Impairment; $525,000 Settlement

In this case, we represented a 50-year old man who was rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident. At the time of the accident, our client was working for a local construction company as a service technician. By all outward appearances, the accident was relatively minor (the repair costs for our client’s work van totaled less than $3,000). Despite the apparent minor nature of the accident, however, our client experienced considerable subsequent discomfort in his right shoulder. After initial physical therapy, his symptoms worsened and an MRI was ordered. About one month after the accident, our client was diagnosed with a full thickness rotator cuff tear.

Our client’s job duties as a service technician included performing follow-up repair services on manufactured homes after delivery to their placement sites. He repaired carpets, flooring, appliances, doors, windows, and roofs. Because of the shoulder injury sustained in the accident, our client was unable to perform his job duties and, therefore, he began receiving worker’s compensation benefits.

After an unsuccessful course of conservative treatment, our client underwent surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff. The surgery was followed by months of physical therapy, but the pain in his shoulder persisted. Because of the persistent pain, our client underwent another MRI which revealed that the rotator cuff might not have properly healed despite the corrective surgery. Ultimately, our client’s doctor declared our client “permanent/stationary” and assigned him a 15% permanent impairment rating of his upper extremity. He also imposed a number of work restrictions for our client, including no heavy or overhead lifting.

To establish our client’s wage loss, we retained an economist to perform a vocational economic evaluation. This evaluation projected the impact of our client’s physical injuries on his reduced employability potential and his loss of earning capacity. Our client had historically earned approximately $50,000 per year. Based on our client’s medical restrictions, age, educational background, work history and transferable skills, it was determined that any future employment would be limited to sedentary work such as a retail salesperson job. The evaluation showed our client’s future lost wages to be more than $400,000.

Based on the permanency of our client’s injury and his considerable future lost wages, we were able to settle his claim for $525,000 (combined from both the responsible driver’s policy and the underinsured motorist policy maintained by our client’s employer).

The information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any matter discussed. The contents are intended for general information purposes only. Always consult a qualified attorney for legal advice on a specific matter.