Arm Pain After a Car Accident: Causes and Next Steps

Several injuries can cause arm pain after a car accident, from an arm fracture to nerve damage. It’s important to seek immediate medical attention after a car crash to learn the exact cause of your arm pain. Once you receive a diagnosis, retain a personal injury lawyer to file a personal injury claim.

A personal injury claim can help car accident victims recoup thousands of dollars in injury expenses, like medical bills and lost wages from time spent out of work. An injury claim can also hold the at-fault driver responsible for additional accident expenses, like vehicle repair costs.

Always err on the side of caution and visit a medical professional as soon as you begin to feel arm pain or other injury symptoms, like muscle weakness. The faster you see a doctor, the faster you can start your road to recovery. Here’s what you need to know about arm pain after a car accident.

What Causes Arm Pain After a Car Accident?

Arm pain after a car accident is usually caused by damage to soft tissues, like muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and injury to arm bones and joints. The blunt force trauma of a car accident can stretch, tear, or shatter the arm’s soft tissues and hard bones.

Many accident victims use their arms to shield more sensitive structures, like the face, from damage during a car crash. Though it may be an instinct to hold up your arms in self-defense or grip the steering wheel on impact, these gestures ultimately do more harm than good.

The crash’s impact can also cause vehicle occupants to slam against other structures inside of the car, like the airbag, side window, or steering wheel. An accident victim who has struck hard surfaces may suffer shoulder injuries and nerve damage that can impact both arms.

Common Arm Injuries from a Car Accident

X-ray of shoulder highlighting joint.

Whether you used your arms to shield your face or found yourself pressed against an airbag, the trauma of a vehicle collision can cause several arm injuries. Take a look at the most common arm injuries associated with car accidents and what they mean.

  1. Clavicle Fracture: A crack or break along the bone that connects the breastplate and shoulder.
  2. Scapula Fracture: A crack or break in the shoulder blade located between the shoulder and spine.
  3. Humerus Fracture: A crack or break in the upper arm bone located between the elbow and shoulder.
  4. Forearm Fracture: A crack or break in one or both bones located between the elbow and wrist (ulna and radius).
  5. ​​​​​Joint Dislocation: A shift of the bones in the shoulder joint or elbow socket.
  6. Rotator Cuff Tear: A tear in the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.
  7. Muscle Strain: A tear in the upper arm muscles (bicep and tricep).
  8. Elbow Sprain: A tear in one of the three elbow ligaments.
  9. Brachial Plexus Injury: A stretch or tear in the nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulders and arms.
  10. Whiplash: A neck injury that tears soft tissues in the cervical spine and shoulders which can cause arm pain.

An injury like whiplash does not impact the arms directly, but damage to soft tissues or nerves in the neck and shoulders can cause radiating arm pain. Damage to spinal discs in the neck, such as disc herniations and fractures, can also directly cause shooting or radiating arm pain.

Symptoms of an Arm Injury

Arm injury symptoms often vary based on the location of the injury. A torn rotator cuff is typically felt in the upper arm and shoulder, whereas symptoms of an elbow injury are felt in the elbow and forearm. The intensity and timeline of symptoms can also vary.

Some injuries, such as a fracture, create immediate pain symptoms that are evident at the accident scene. Other injuries, such as a muscle strain, develop delayed pain symptoms. Delayed pain can indicate a major car accident injury, so seek medical care no matter when symptoms begin.

Symptoms of an arm injury to watch out for include:

  • Stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Redness or warmth at the injury site
  • Bruising and discoloration
  • Tingling sensations
  • Shoulder pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Wrist pain

In addition to physical symptoms, also listen for popping or grinding noises when moving your arm. A sudden pop or crunch may be caused by a serious tear along the shoulder joint. Medical clinics and hospitals can order an MRI or X-rays to locate the source of the sound.

Can You Sue for Arm Pain After a Car Accident?

You can sue for arm pain after a car accident if an accident injury directly caused the pain. In the state of Kentucky, a car accident victim may bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver as long as the accident caused more than $1,000 in medical expenses, a bone fracture, or a permanent injury.

The physical and mental pain caused by a car accident injury is referred to as pain and suffering in a lawsuit. The other expenses listed in a lawsuit are known as damages. Common damages for an arm injury also include the costs of a treatment plan, like meeting with physical therapists.

Additional damages you can sue for after a car accident include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Costs of prescription medication
  • Out-of-pocket expenses, such as doctor’s co-pay
  • Travel fees to and from doctor visits
  • Lost wages, including sick days
  • Vehicle repair costs

If you’re unsure of the total amount of your damages, it’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer. A lawyer can calculate your medical bills and put a price tag on the physical and mental pain you’re feeling, to ensure you receive fair compensation.

When Should You Hire an Injury Lawyer?

Lawyers give advice about judgment, agreements, justice Customer

If you have suffered an injury in a car accident, after your initial appointment with a doctor, your next step should be to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can step in right away, so you can focus on healing rather than negotiating with insurance companies.

You should hire an injury lawyer if there’s uncertainty over who caused the accident. A knowledgeable attorney can prove that the other driver’s negligence was responsible for causing the crash, thus causing your accident injuries.

David Bryant Law is Here to Help!

All car accident victims deserve a chance to receive a fair settlement. If you experience arm pain after a car accident and learn you’ve been injured, reach out to a personal injury attorney right away. At David Bryant Law, someone is always ready to take your call. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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David G. Bryant is certified to practice in all state courts in Kentucky, and federal courts in the Eastern and Western districts of Kentucky, Southern District of New York, Southern District of West Virginia, Northern District of Ohio, Middle District of Tennessee, and Western District of Pennsylvania. He is licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.