young man with shoulder pain after a car accident

Shoulder pain after a car accident is fairly common. Pain in and around the shoulder may be symptomatic of multiple injuries suffered in the crash. Obtaining a prompt diagnosis is critical for avoiding unnecessary complications.

In addition to seeing a doctor or going to the emergency room promptly after a car accident, you should also speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. The cost of treating a shoulder injury can be substantial, and you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.

Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop can help you pursue compensation for shoulder pain after a car accident and any other injuries you have sustained. Call us at (402) 241-5020 today for a FREE case review.

7 Common Shoulder Injuries from Car Accidents

What does shoulder pain mean after a car accident? There isn’t a definitive answer. Car accidents can cause multiple shoulder injuries, from bruises and strains to tears and fractures.

Some of the most common types of injuries to the shoulder that drivers and passengers may experience in car accidents include:

Bone Dislocation or Fracture

For many car accident victims, shoulder pain is a symptom of a dislocated or fractured bone. These injuries can result from a direct impact, such as hitting your shoulder in a side-impact or T-bone accident, or from the torsional forces involved in a violent collision.

The three bones most likely to be dislocated or fractured in a car accident are:

  • Clavicle – The clavicle, or collarbone, connects the arm to the sternum and the top of the rib cage. Clavicle fractures can vary widely in terms of their severity, from slight cracks to comminuted and displaced fractures. All clavicle fractures can cause severe shoulder pain, which may also radiate toward the chest or down the arm.
  • Proximal Humerus – The proximal humerus is located at the top of the arm below the scapula (or shoulder blade). Due to its exposed location, injury to the proximal humerus is fairly common in motor vehicle collisions.
  • Scapula – The scapula, or shoulder blade, sits behind the clavicle and extends down the back behind the ribs. Scapula fractures are also common injuries in car accidents that can cause intense shoulder pain.

Bruising and Inflammation

Bruising is caused by bleeding under the skin due to trauma. Car accident victims will often experience significant bruising at points of impact, including the shoulder. Bruising is commonly accompanied by inflammation, or swelling, which can cause intense, dull, or throbbing shoulder pain that often gets worse with movement.

Nerve Damage or Impingement (Brachial Plexus Injury)

The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs from the top of the spine through the shoulder and down the arm. In a car accident, the nerves in the brachial plexus can become impinged (pinched) or they can be damaged or torn. If you are experiencing a burning or stabbing type of pain in your shoulder, or if you experience pain that feels like an electric shock when you move your arm, this could be symptomatic of nerve impingement or nerve damage from the car accident.


A SLAP tear is a type of soft tissue injury that commonly occurs in car accidents. These injuries are frequently accompanied by intense shoulder pain.

SLAP stands for Superior Labrum, Anterior to Posterior. A SLAP tear refers to a traumatic injury that involves damage to the superior or glenoid labrum, a collection of cartilage and fibrous tissue in the shoulder.

Sprain or Strain

Along with SLAP tears, it is not uncommon for accident victims to suffer other types of injury to the soft tissue in the shoulder. This includes ligament sprains, tendon strains, and muscle strains. In car accidents, shoulder sprains and strains typically result from overextension, such as when the arm gets pushed backward or up and over the shoulder.

Torn Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles that connects the proximal humerus to the scapula. Rotator cuff tears can either occur in connection with damage to one or both of these bones, or in isolation. Along with shoulder pain, other common symptoms of rotator cuff tears include weakness in the arm and a cracking or popping sensation when raising or twisting the arm.


Finally, shoulder pain is also a common symptom of whiplash. If you are experiencing headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, tinnitus, fatigue, or sleep disturbances in addition to shoulder pain after a car accident, this could mean that you suffered whiplash.

Shoulder Pain After a Car Accident? Our Lawyers Can Help

Injuries to the shoulder can have a major impact on your life. Along with substantial medical expenses, you may have difficulty returning to your job. You may require significant physical therapy and other treatments. Shoulder injuries are also painful, potentially affecting your physical and mental well-being.

The attorneys at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop have more than 200 years of combined experience handling a wide range of personal injury claims. We have experience with virtually all types of cases involving car accident injuries, and we are committed to pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf.

For a FREE case review, contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and all of Nebraska and nearby Iowa.

by Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Car Accidents