On March 4, 2005, in Rockaway, New Jersey, the plaintiff was stopped behind another vehicle at a traffic light in the middle northbound lane of traffic on Mount Hope Avenue in Rockaway, New Jersey. Another vehicle struck plaintiff's vehicle directly from behind. The impact pushed her vehicle forward. The impact jerked the plaintiff's body, thrusting her arm into the steering wheel which she was holding, which eventually resulted in a massive tear of the right rotator cuff. The accident aggravated a strain of the same shoulder which occurred almost one year earlier and for which she had treated just two months prior to the accident.
The plaintiff's vehicle sustained modest property damage, and the defense argued that the impact was too insignificant to have caused such a serious injury. However, a biomechanical expert was retained on behalf of the plaintiff, who determined that the forces of the impact were sufficient to cause plaintiff's shoulder injury, especially since she already had developed a weakness in the joint pre-accident.
The plaintiff underwent an MRI of the shoulder, which confirmed the rotator cuff tear. She underwent two different surgical procedures. The first surgery was a rotator cuff repair, shoulder arthroscopy of the right shoulder, which resulted in a 2 inch surgical scar. A second MRI confirmed the need for a second surgery, a right shoulder arthroscopy, and excision of a synovial cyst, which revealed a massive rotator cuff tear which had retracted, and was no longer repairable.
The plaintiff was left with severe limitations of her right shoulder. Her shoulder strength had diminished significantly and she was unable to lift her arm above her head without significant pain. She underwent several months of physical therapy, and was told that she would continue to have weakness and limited motion of her shoulder for the rest of her life. She continued to have limited use of her arm and difficulty with routine daily activities including household chores and dressing herself.