One of the most common complaints people have after a car accident is back pain. In many cases, the underlying cause of this pain is a herniated or “slipped” disc.
If you’ve been (or suspect you’ve been) injured in this way you’re likely wondering how much your claim is worth. In this article, we’ll explore this question in detail so you will have an idea what to expect and can maximize your settlement.
How Does a Car Accident Cause a Herniated Disc?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
A herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine .
The most common “problem” is the disc moves and impinges on spinal nerves causing pain.
The mechanics of a herniated disc are complicated, but generally speaking, the stress or impact of a car accident can cause one of the discs to become displaced. Additionally, an accident can cause soft tissue injuries to other parts of the body which can affect the health of your spine and lead to disc problems over time.
What Are The Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc does not automatically spell the severe pain its name might conjure in your mind. Symptoms vary, but the most common ones (according to WebMD) are :
- Pain and numbness, often on the side of the body with the disc issue.
- Pain and numbness that extends to your arms/legs.
- Tingling — the “pins and needles” sensation, particularly in the fingers/toes.
- Pain that is exacerbated by the exertion of standing/walking for long periods.
- Muscle weakness or dysfunction.
- Aching or burning sensation in the mid and lower back.
Treatment for disc issues can be as simple as a few exercises and rest or as serious as surgery on the spine.
As with any type of injury, a medical professional is needed to properly assess your condition. This is good from both the perspective of your claim, but more importantly for the benefit of your own health.
Filing a Claim for Your Injury
If you’ve sustained a disc injury in a car accident you’ll need to show two primary things for a successful claim (a claim is possible without these, just harder).
- That the other driver is at fault. If you were rear-ended (or something similar) it should be clear the other driver violated their duty of care or a traffic law, making them the negligent party.
- That your injury is the result of the accident. Insurance companies are wary of people trying to claim preexisting injuries on unrelated claims so you’ll need to show a connection. Don’t worry, though, this isn’t as hard as it may sound and your doctor can help document this.
Regardless of whether you plan to go through your own insurance carrier and let them subrogate or pursue damages from the other party (or their insurance company) the first step is always to get medical treatment.
This helps to establish your claim and it makes sure you are taken care of.
When it comes to car accident-related herniated disc claims, the at-fault party may be on the hook for quite a few damages. These can include:
- All medical costs
- Lost wages or earning potential
- Rehabilitative therapy
- In some cases pain and suffering
The unfortunate truth is that disc problems can equal a lifetime of pain or disability (not always) and as such these type of claims often last for a long time and are fiercely contested.
How Much is Your Claim Worth?
According to a recent survey, the average jury verdict involving a herniated disc claim was approximately $350,000. But before you rush to conclusions remember a few things.
This number represents not only car accidents but all other forms of herniated disc bodily injury claims. This number may not account for many claims whose outcome is confidential. It is also just an average that may have little or no bearing on your situation.
There is a wide spectrum when it comes to disc injury claims. Some factors that can affect the value of your claim are:
- Whether or not fault is black and white
- Whether or not you live in a no-fault state
- Extent and nature of the injury
- Preexisting back problems
- Is a surgical intervention required
- Effect on your ability to work and function day to day
- How much pain you suffer as a result
Let’s take a look at a few examples. These examples may be another useful in helping your ballpark your claim and set appropriate expectations.
Example 1 – Florida
Driver A takes a left in front of driver B. In the accident driver B herniated two discs C5-6 C6-7, he requires pain meds, physical therapy, misses work, and is expected to need surgery. Driver B was awarded $581,458 for current and past medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Example 2 – Oregon
Driver A stopped for traffic and was rear ended by driver B after he attempted to swerve. Driver A suffers back pain afterward and an MRI showed she had a herniated disc. Surgery was recommended by her doctor and her attorney was able to secure a $150,000 settlement to cover her expenses.
Example 3 – Illinois
Driver A (a 55-year-old man) was rear-ended at a stop sign by a bus that was following too closely. Driver A sought medical treatment for soft tissue injuries and complained of back pain afterward.
Driver A had a history of back problems and his visit to an orthopedic surgeon showed a few herniated discs. He sued the bus driver’s insurance company for damages. He was awarded $12,500 but the jury did not believe his disc problems were the result of this one accident.
Figuring out the value of a herniated disc claim is tricky and there is really no perfect method to it. If you’re facing this situation just be sure to keep a few things in mind.
- Herniated discs can be caused by blunt impacts and their most common symptoms are pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and tingling in the extremities.
- A herniated disc claim can be handled through your own insurance company or by directly pursuing the other party. These claims are often contested and you may be offered a lowball settlement amount.
- Herniated disc claims can be worth $1,000 or $1,000,000 — and while the average is $350,000 the value of your claim really boils down to the extent of your injury and the facts of the case.
Want to know How Much Your Injury Claim is Worth? Get a free settlement estimate right now.