Shoulder Injuries & Workers’ Comp Claims

Workers use their shoulders on a very regular basis. In fact, you may not even realize just how important your shoulders are to your everyday working life until after you are injured. Shoulder injuries may not heal themselves, which could mean that you will require surgery and physical therapy to get back to work after this type of injury.

Upper limb injuries, including the shoulder, account for about half of all workplace injuries in the world. In Pennsylvania, injuries to the upper extremities are less frequent but still accounts for nearly 40% of all workplace injuries as of 2018. Workplace shoulder injuries make up a little over 7% of those injuries. Upper extremities are also the most commonly injured body part across all industries in Pennsylvania.

Can I File a Workers’ Comp Claim for a Shoulder Injury?

You can file a workers’ comp claim virtually any time you injure your shoulder at work or because of work duties. 

Because shoulder injuries are so common, many of the same types of shoulder damage will occur over and over again. Some examples of the kinds of shoulder injuries that trigger workers’ compensation include:

Rotator Cuff Tears

Your rotator cuff can tear because of a sudden strain. It can also be the result of repetitive trauma as well. Your rotator cuff can also become inflamed or sore without a tear as well. However, going without treatment can lead to a tear that requires surgery.


Shoulder bursitis is a very common cause of shoulder pain. It is sometimes called rotator cuff tendonitis or impingement syndrome as well. The rotator cuff tendons and bursa become inflamed, causing pain with movement.


Shoulder dislocation can usually be corrected fairly easily, but it can also cause long-term damage. Getting medical help right away will help prevent more serious injury.


Even simple shoulder strains can lead to a workers’ compensation claim. In many situations, what you think is a strain may actually be something more serious. Strains can also get worse and lead to long-term damage they are not treated properly.

How Can I File a Shoulder Injury Claim?

Follow these steps to file a shoulder injury claim:

  1. Report your injury to your employer (If it is an emergency, forego notifying your employer if necessary and get to the emergency room immediately)
  2. Complete an incident report if required by your employer
  3. Request to review the list of approved medical providers so you can get medical care (if your employer does not have a list, you can treat with any physician)
  4. Make an appointment with an approved doctor

Within 21 days of your injury, your employer or the employer’s insurance company is required to tell you whether they will accept or reject your workers’ compensation claim. If they accept it, you will continue getting medical treatment until it is no longer necessary. 

If the request is rejected, then you may need to start a contested claim to continue getting approved treatment. You can still get medical care, but your employer will not be required to pay for it.

How Common is a Shoulder Injury at Work?

Upper extremity injuries, including shoulder injuries, are one of the most common types of work injuries in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. In fact, roughly one-quarter of the US population suffers from some kind of shoulder pain.

Are Shoulder Injuries Common in Certain Types of Industries?

People in these occupations are at a higher risk of experiencing shoulder injuries at work: 

  • Welders
  • Manufacture workers
  • Warehouse workers
  • Construction
  • Roofers
  • Plumbers
  • Auto mechanics
  • Landscapers or snow removal teams

These types of injuries are often caused by repetitive motion such as pushing, pulling, awkward positions, and lifting heavy objects. That means that any occupation that has to do those movements could end up with a shoulder injury. 

Even office workers who may normally be fairly inactive can still strain their shoulders by picking up a heavy box of paper, for example.

What Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Can I Get?

If your shoulder is injured at work, you may be able to receive:

  • Weekly compensation for your lost wages
  • Compensation for medical bills and/or medical treatment
  • Compensation for future loss of function or permanent impairment
  • Travel expenses for having to attend medical appointments

How Much Compensation Can I Expect for a Shoulder Injury?

Every employee’s compensation will be slightly different because it depends on how much they were working and earning before the shoulder injury. It will also vary based on how serious your injury may be. If your injury requires surgery, your benefits will significantly increase in most situations.

Pennsylvania considers shoulder injuries a “body as a whole” injury. That means that you will receive a portion of permanent impairment benefits based on a “cap” of 500 weeks of your benefit amount, which is two-thirds of your average weekly wage. The portion that you receive is based on expert opinion, usually that of your treating doctor.

For example, if your doctor says that you are at your maximum medical improvement (MMI) (which means your injury has healed as much as it can) and you are 5% impaired, then you can get 25 weeks of permanent impairment benefits (5% of 500 weeks). 

Workers’ Comp Lawyers For Shoulder Injury Claims

Having an attorney who knows the PA workers’ compensation system is a great resource as you work through this process. He or she will be able to tell you how to get the best medical care for your needs, both from a health standpoint and for your legal case. They will also be able to advocate on your behalf with your employer or their insurance company or in front of a workers’ compensation judge.

Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo has been representing injured workers throughout Pennsylvania for generations. We know the PA work comp laws inside and out, and we understand the strategies that insurance companies and employers use to pay you less than you deserve for your work injury. We can help you work through this process so you can focus on recovering from your shoulder injury. 

Call 800-952-9640 today or use the form on the right to request your free consultation with a workers’ comp lawyer.

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