Soft Tissue Injuries: What They Are and Why Insurance Companies Treat Them Differently than Other Types of Injuries

By Jacob F. Kimball
Attorney at Law
The Gasper Law Group, PLLC

If you have ever been injured in an automobile accident or sports, there is a good chance you have suffered a “soft tissue” injury. In addition, if you have made an insurance claim for personal injury, the insurance company may have mentioned the phrase “soft tissue injuries,” or even used it in a negative sense—such as, “Your injuries are just soft tissue injuries”—as if soft tissue injuries were somehow inferior or less deserving of compensation. But soft tissue injuries are very real and can cause real, persistent pain. Because soft tissue injuries can be painful and lingering, and claims for soft tissue injuries can be difficult and contentious, many personal injury victims are frustrated by the diagnosis, treatment, and claims process surrounding soft tissue injuries. Sometimes insurance adjusters treat soft tissue injuries with scorn or skepticism. Soft tissue injury claims can be the target of heightened fraud monitoring because of the potential for the victim to exaggerate the existence or seriousness of the injury. This perception is sometimes depicted in television and movies satirically as a healthy person wearing an awkward neck brace to convince a jury that the person should be awarded an unfair verdict. It would be naïve to assume that no one ever fakes or exaggerates soft tissue injuries, but it would also be unfairly skeptical to assume that such injuries do not occur or do not merit fair compensation. Just because a type of injury may be more susceptible to fraud does not mean that your soft tissue injury is made up or exaggerated, but it does mean you may need to take extra care documenting the diagnosis and treatment of the injury to prove your claim to the insurance company. For this reason, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who can demonstrate to the insurance company why your soft tissue injury is legitimate and deserving of compensation. The most common soft tissue injuries in auto accident claims are sprains and strains of the neck and back. Whiplash is a common cause of soft tissue injury in car accidents. Typically, when someone refers to a soft tissue injury, he or she means injury to ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The following are common types of soft tissue injuries:

  1. Sprains. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones to one another. Sprains occur when those ligaments are stretched or torn.
  2. Strains. Tendons are the tissues that connect muscle to bone. Strains occur when those tendons are stretched or torn. A strain can also be an injury to a muscle.
  3. Contusions. Contusions are bruises caused by injury of the muscle, tendon, or ligament tissues. Contusions can be evidenced by discoloration of the skin caused by blood accumulating around the injury.
  4. Tendonitis. Sometimes injuries to tendons are accompanied by inflammation in the tendon or surrounding tissues (e.g., swelling, heat, redness (if visible), and pain), which constitutes tendonitis.
  5. Bursitis. Bursitis is swelling and irrigation of the bursa, which is a fluid-filled sac located between a bone and a tendon or muscle that allows the tendons to slide over bones. Commonly-injured bursae are located at the shoulder, hip, elbow, knee, and ankle joints.

If you think you might have suffered a soft tissue injury, you should consult with a qualified health professional to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Oftentimes, insurance companies will attempt to downplay the seriousness of soft tissue injuries and pressure you to settle for less than your claim is worth. You may feel overwhelmed arguing with the insurance company, while trying to find the time and money to complete the recommended treatment for your injuries, and doing everything else in your life that refuses to be put on hold. The experienced personal injury attorneys at The Gasper Law Group can deal with the insurance companies and their attorneys to get you the compensation you deserve and get your life back on track.