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Rotator Cuff Tear Suffered in Car Crash

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who suffered numerous injuries in a car crash, including a torn rotator cuff which required several surgeries to correct. She thought that if the doctor had done it right the first time, she wouldn’t have needed a second surgery. She wanted to know if the driver that caused the crash could be held legally responsible for both surgeries.

Like other car crash injuries, rotator cuff injuries can be somewhat difficult to treat. Shoulder injuries are like knee injuries involving a torn meniscus or other structures that are torn or stretched in a joint. They sometimes respond to physical therapy but, more often than not, require surgery.

As we have pointed out in other podcasts, an at-fault driver responsible for a crash can be held legally accountable if reasonable medical care leads to treatment, takes more time than usual, or requires a more complicated treatment than expected.

One case that comes to mind involved a gentleman who had to have multiple rotator cuff surgeries.

The first surgery was at a teaching university. This first surgery had to be re-done. It was a surgery performed by a novice surgeon. It was the first rotator cuff surgery that the surgeon completed on his own.

The first surgery was only a partial success. It did no harm to the patient but did not result in a complete repair of the tear.

Not surprisingly, the defendant argued to the court that he shouldn’t be responsible for any additional surgeries. The court didn’t buy the argument.

One of the key reasons was that there was a supervising surgeon present at the University where this surgery was done. The supervising surgeon said that sometimes even doing a perfect surgery does not lead to an ideal result.

There was no evidence that the surgery was done any less skillfully than another surgeon. Even if it had been done less skillfully, as long as an effort to get treatment is reasonable, the wrongdoer is responsible for the consequences of medical treatment reasonably chosen.

So, in the caller’s case, it’s regretful that she had to have several surgeries to get the problem caused by the crash repaired. But, to answer her questions, the at-fault driver could be held responsible for paying the cost of those rotator cuff surgeries and other treatments associated with the surgeries.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”