Average Back Injury Settlement Compensation for Car Accidents

This post examines the average settlement amount in back injury car accident claims. I last updated this page on December 14, 2021.

Let’s start with a few statistics.  A verdicts and settlements database found that the median plaintiff’s verdict award for motor vehicle cases that involved back injuries is $212,500.

For all car, truck, and motorcycle accident injury cases in the database that earned a plaintiff’s verdict, the median award is $300,000.

Sample Verdicts and Settlements in Back Injury Cases

The difficulty in using average verdict statistics is that they are pretty useless.  Why?  The typical back injury case does not go to trial.  So the average settlement for a back injury will differ from the average verdict.

So the better weapon, albeit far from perfect, is to look at comparable back injuries to your injury. This will not give you the settlement compensation payout you will get in your case, even if the facts seem identical.  But sample back injury settlements and verdicts help you better understand the possible ranges for your case.

  • April 2023 – New York $25,000 Verdict: A 48-year-old woman was shopping at a Hobby Lobby store when she tripped and fell on metal shelves that were laying in the store aisle. She claimed to suffer lumbar and cervical back strains and disc herniations due to the fall.
  • January 2023 – Oregon $462,412 Verdict: The plaintiff was struck by a defendant driving a large tractor-trailer. The plaintiff alleged various back injuries, including lumbar spondylolisthesis at L2-3, anterolisthesis, L2-3 right paracentral disc extrusion, L3-4 disc bulging, central disc protrusion at C3-4, compression of nerve roots at C4 and C7.
  • February 2022 – Texas $2,168,000 Verdict: A 40-something man was rear-ended. He suffered spinal injuries, including a lumbosacral herniation. The man underwent four months of chiropractic care. He also underwent multiple spinal procedures. The man was restricted from heavy lifting. He could no longer work as a ranch hand. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he excessively sped and failed to take evasive action. The jury awarded $2,168,000.
  • December 2021 – Georgia $100,000 Settlement: A 30-something passenger was sideswiped. She suffered C-3, C-45, C6-7, L-34, and L5-1 herniations and tears and an L4-5 herniation. The woman also suffered soft-tissue right shoulder and elbow injuries. The woman underwent chiropractic and physical therapy. She also underwent painkilling lumbar injections. The woman experienced residual back, neck, and right shoulder pain. Her injuries affected her ability to perform household chores. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he excessively sped and unsafely changed lanes. The woman received a $100,000 cervical spine injury settlement.
  • December 2021 – Mississippi $302,968 Verdict: A 44-year-old woman was rear-ended. She suffered a labral tear and a lumbar strain. She underwent a shoulder repair. The woman also developed crash-related anxiety. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed she failed to timely brake and maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury awarded $302,968.
  • November 2021 – Louisiana $554,000 Verdict: A dump truck driver was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. He suffered soft-tissue cervical and lumbar injuries. The man underwent spinal fusions. He developed adjacent segment disease. The man alleged negligence against the truck driver. He claimed he excessively sped and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout. The jury $554,000.
  • July 2021 – Virginia $700,000 Settlement: A pedestrian was struck at a crosswalk. She suffered an L1 compression fracture, a left hip fracture, a fibula fracture, a foot wound, and a ruptured bladder. The woman was hospitalized for a week. She spent an additional week at a rehabilitation facility. The woman underwent physical therapy and wound care for several months. She experienced limited hip flexibility while exercising. The woman alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. She claimed he failed to yield to a pedestrian and keep an appropriate lookout. She received a back injury settlement of $700,000.
  • June 2021 – Texas $312,198 Verdict: A 42-year-old woman was rear-ended by a Domino’s delivery driver. She suffered cervical and lumbar bulges and right shoulder pain. The woman underwent several months of physical therapy. She subsequently underwent shoulder and cervical steroid injections. All her injuries resolved except her neck-related ones. Two years later, the woman underwent a cervical discectomy and fusion. She alleged that the Domino’s driver’s negligence caused her injuries. She claimed he failed to slow down and maintain an appropriate distance. The woman also made a vicarious liability claim against Domino’s. The defense denied liability. They argued that the woman suddenly stopped. The jury found the delivery driver 80 percent liable and the woman 20 percent liable. They awarded $312,198.
  • May 2021 – Kentucky $497,611 Verdict: A 71-year-old woman was a passenger in her husband’s vehicle. They were rear-ended. The woman suffered the aggravation of her previous L4-5 fusion and a C4-7 injury. She underwent pain management therapy. One year later, the woman underwent a C4-7 fusion. She settled with her husband’s insurer for $100,000. The woman then made a UIM claim against Erie. She alleged that the other driver’s negligence caused her injuries. The woman claimed she excessively sped and failed to maintain a proper lookout. A jury found the other driver 70 percent liable and the woman’s husband 30 percent liable. They awarded $497,611.
  • November 2020 – Washington $209,000 Verdict: A 64-year-old shuttle van passenger was involved in a backing accident. He suffered C5-6, C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1 bulges. The man’s neurosurgeon recommended a discectomy and a laminectomy. He alleged negligence against the shuttle van driver. The man claimed he unsafely reversed his vehicle. He also alleged vicarious liability against the shuttle van driver’s employer. The jury awarded $209,000.
  • August 2020 – Oregon $25,557 Verdict: A woman was T-boned. She suffered chest, neck, and lower back sprains and strains, somatic and segmental dysfunction, and an intervertebral lumbar disc protraction. The woman alleged that the at-fault driver’s failure to give the right-of-way caused her injuries. A jury awarded her $25,557.
  • August 2020 – Washington $14,324 Verdict: A 47-year-old man was rear-ended. He suffered cervical, lumbar, and thoracic sprains with somatic and segmental dysfunction and C4-5 and thoracic degeneration. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he negligently tailgated him and failed to slow down. The jury awarded the man $14,324.
  • August 2020 – New York $25,000 Settlement: A minor passenger was struck head-on. He suffered a lower back injury –  L3-4 and L5-S1 bulging – and a left clavicle fracture. The boy’s mother alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. This case settled for $25,000.
  • May 2020 – Washington $72,452 Verdict: A 52-year-old woman was rear-ended. She suffered a lumbar herniation with radiculopathy. The woman underwent chiropractic care, steroid injections, massage therapy, and physical therapy. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he negligently tailgated her and failed to timely brake. The defense denied liability. They argued that the woman’s injuries were pre-existing. The jury awarded the woman $72,452.
  • April 2020 – Oregon $125,000 Settlement: A man was sideswiped. He suffered spinal protrusions and bulges, an annular tear with tingling, numbness, and radiculopathy, chest and hand contusions, a subconjunctival hemorrhage, and the aggravation of his pre-existing lumbar injury. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed he made a negligent lane change and failed to maintain an appropriate lookout.
  • March 2020 – New York $25,000 Verdict: While stopped near an intersection, the plaintiff’s van was struck by the van behind it. He initially refused to seek medical attention but visited his primary care physician two days later. He claimed he suffered a C-4-C-5 herniation and bulges to his L1-L2, L2-L3, and L4-L5 discs that caused lower back pain. The plaintiff also suffered multiple tears on his dominant right shoulder. He underwent physical therapy courses over a week after his diagnosis. He underwent surgery on his right shoulder. The plaintiff now experiences difficulties with basic activities as a result. His physician opined that he would need surgery on his spine. The jury awarded the plaintiff $25,000 in damages.
  • February 2020 – Texas $33,525 Verdict: While the plaintiff was driving eastward, the southward traveling defendant struck his vehicle after stopping at a stop sign. His vehicle landed in a yard. Two days later, he visited an emergency room, where he was diagnosed with soft-tissue back pain and a left-hand hematoma. He ultimately suffered herniations to his C2-3, C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, L2-3, L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1. He underwent physical therapy with a chiropractor. The plaintiff also underwent pain management, consisting of epidural steroid injections. He also underwent lumbar and cervical injections. The plaintiff noted that he continued to experience lower back pain if he sat for extended periods. The jury awarded the plaintiff $33,525.
  • February 2020 – Texas $22,890 Verdict: In this case, the plaintiff struck the defendant’s vehicle as the defendant made a left turn. He sustained disc protrusions at C5-6 and L3-4 and soft-tissue neck, back, and left shoulder injuries, including  He underwent over thirty physical therapy and chiropractic sessions within three months. The plaintiff can no longer ski or surf as a result. The jury awarded the plaintiff $22,890, which was reduced to $18,312 based on comparative negligence.
  • February 2020 – Virginia $1,980,000 Settlement: While a passenger in a vehicle went off-road and struck an illegally parked tractor-trailer, the plaintiff suffered multiple injuries. They comprised fractures to his L2, sternum, ankle, and ribs. So clearly, this is more than a back injury case, but an L2 fracture is a severe injury. The case settled for $1,980,000.
  • January 2020 – Maryland $205,392 Verdict: While driving on Shady Grove Road in Gaithersburg, the plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended by a motorist asleep at the wheel. In addition to knee injuries, the plaintiff suffered soft-tissue back and neck injuries. He underwent physical therapy and knee surgery. The Montgomery County jury awarded the plaintiff $205,392.
  • December 2019 – Maryland $200,000 Verdict: The plaintiff sideswiped as she entered an intersection. She suffered a herniated C-56 disc and the aggravation of her formerly asymptomatic lumbar spinal cyst. Two months later, she underwent fusion surgery and an anterior cervical discectomy. The plaintiff then underwent physical therapy and pain management. Her experts testified that the collision caused her disc herniation and aggravated cyst. The plaintiff also claimed that she is unable to return to work. The defense counsel contended that she was physically capable of working. Their orthopedics expert testified that her herniation also pre-existed the collision so their settlement offer in this spinal fusion lawsuit was low. The Frederick County jury awarded $200,000.

median back injury settlements

  •  December 2019 – Maryland $120,429 Verdict: The plaintiff, after coming to a stop behind a school bus, was rear-ended by the defendant. In addition to soft-tissue shoulder, neck, and rib injuries, the plaintiff had his pre-existing degenerative disc disease in his spine that was aggravated. He experienced chronic radicular pain in his lumbar region. He underwent physical therapy courses and steroid injections for treatment. His soft-tissue injuries resolved, but his lower back injuries did not. The plaintiff’s physiatrist testified that the collision caused his spinal injuries, necessitating future surgery, including a laminectomy fusion surgery to his lumbar region. The Montgomery County jury awarded the plaintiff $120,429 in damages.
  • November 2019 – Maryland $7,483,254 Verdict: At a gas station, an electrician’s van struck the plaintiff’s vehicle at the side. The plaintiff also testified that he saw the van drive from the gas pump and hit his driver-side door. An MRI revealed an L5-S1 herniation and aggravation of a degenerative disc disease at C3-4 and C5-6. The plaintiff also suffered from post-traumatic cervical radiculopathy. After two years of physical therapy and pain management, his doctors recommended a discectomy and two-level fusion surgery, which were unsuccessful. Two years later, he had revision spinal surgery in his lumbar region. It was not successful, and he was now permanently impaired. He can no longer work. A  Prince George’s County jury awarded $7,483,253.89.
  • January 2019 – Maryland $14,700 Verdict: Plaintiff was driving his vehicle toward an intersection when a vehicle driven by the defendant attempted to make a left turn in front of his vehicle. The vehicles collided, and the plaintiff claimed he sustained injuries to his back, causing continued pain and discomfort.  The defendant admitted liability, but the case went to trial on causation and damages. The jury awarded $14,780 in damages.
  • October 2018 – Maryland $53,883 Verdict: Plaintiff, a UPS driver, was driving a UPS tractor-trailer on I-95 just north of Baltimore when the defendant rear-ended him. Plaintiff allegedly sustains injuries to the middle and upper back and sought compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. The case went to trial in Montgomery County, and the jury awarded $53k.
  • January 2018 – Maryland $28,600 Verdict: Plaintiff was proceeding through the intersection of Fulton Ave and Pressman Street in Baltimore when another vehicle ran a red light and hit her. The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene and was never identified. Plaintiff sued her insurer, Allstate, for UIM benefits and was awarded $28k.
  • April 2017 – Maryland $60,000 Verdict: Plaintiff was a 34-year woman who is rear-ended on an interstate.  She herniated a disc in her neck and had radiculopathy, which means the disc was hitting a nerve root.  The jury in relatively rural Westminster awarded $60,000.

Some Older Verdicts

  • December 2015 – Maryland $130,000 Verdict: Plaintiff, a retired 68-year-old male, came to a stop on the highway and was rear-ended, allegedly resulting in a herniated disc.  The defendant alleged that Plaintiff contributed to the accident by coming to a very sudden and unnecessary stop.  The jury in Prince George’s County found in favor of the Plaintiff and awarded damages of $130,000 for his back injuries which he claimed would have a permanent impact on his life.
  • June 2015 – Maryland $18,000 Verdict: Plaintiff suffered lumbar disc herniation, mental anguish, and soft tissue neck injuries from a rear-end collision. The defendant disputed liability and contested the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s claimed injuries.  A Prince George’s County jury awarded $18,000 in damages.  This is a tough loss in a venue that has historically favored plaintiffs.
  • June 2014, Maryland: $113,555 Verdict: A local marketing director was walking to a table at the outdoor seating patio of J. Paul’s Harbor Place restaurant in downtown Baltimore when she stepped into an uncovered gutter and tripped and fell. She was taken by ambulance to a local emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a fractured ankle and a lumbar disc herniation. The ankle was set and cast and removed six weeks later. Her lower back injuries required several months of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment. She sued the restaurant owners for negligence, claiming the tables and chairs were too close to the open gutter. Defendants argued that the gutter was clearly marked and that Plaintiff had visited the restaurant before and was familiar with the floor plan. A Baltimore City jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff for $113,555.
  • April 2014, Maryland: $412,738 Verdict: A 30-year-old woman was a passenger in her friend’s vehicle traveling northbound on Ritchie Highway in Anne Arundel County. Her friend attempted to make a left turn across the southbound lanes of traffic when the car was broadsided by a southbound vehicle traveling about 50 mph. The woman was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with three fractured ribs, body bruising, and neck and back injuries. Her injuries required treatment from an orthopedist, physical therapist, and chiropractor. She sued her friend for negligence, failing to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, and failing to keep a proper lookout. Defendant stipulated liability in exchange for a verdict cap at $100,000 (her insurance policy limits) but argued the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries, claiming Plaintiff’s back and neck treatment was excessive and unnecessary.  An Anne Arundel County jury found for Plaintiff for $412,737.77, which was reduced to the stipulated sum of $100,000.
  • April 2014, District of Columbia: $15,285 Verdict: A 63-year-old man was diagnosed with soft tissue cervical and lumbar injuries and aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative disc disease after being rear-ended at an intersection. The driver that struck him was uninsured, so the man sued his uninsured motorist carrier, State Farm. Plaintiff claimed the driver failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to maintain an appropriate distance between the vehicles. While State Farm did not dispute the at-fault driver, they disputed the extent of the Plaintiff’s injuries. State Farm claimed that Plaintiff was not seriously injured, and any complaints were related to the pre-existing degenerative disc disease in his lower back. A District of Columbia jury found in favor of Plaintiff and awarded him $15,285.40.  Obviously, the jury at least mostly bought State Farm’s story that the preexisting injury was the primary cause of the injuries.
  • March 2014, Maryland: $61,628 Verdict: A retired insurance executive was driving through the intersection of Magruder and Newburgh Roads in Catonsville when he was involved in a car accident when a driver failed to stop for a stop sign. Shortly after that, he sought medical treatment from his primary care physician, complaining of lower back pain and headaches. He received physical therapy for aggravation of a prior lumbar fusion and was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome. He sued the driver for the negligent operation of her vehicle. Defendant admitted liability but disputed the extent of Plaintiff’s back injuries. The arguments were presented in a Baltimore County Circuit Court, where a jury rendered a $61,628.35 verdict.
  • January 2014; Maryland: $28,817 Verdict: A 69-year-old woman was riding in the backseat of her son’s vehicle in Prince George’s County when they were rear-ended by a minivan that swerved into their lane to avoid colliding with a parked vehicle. An ambulance took her to a local emergency room, where she was treated for headaches, lower back pain, and left knee pain. She visited an orthopedist the following month, where MRIs revealed a tear in the left knee and slipped vertebrae. Her injuries required multiple physical therapy sessions and, more importantly, the permanent use of a cane to walk. She sued the minivan driver for negligence, claiming he failed to keep a proper lookout.  Defendant admitted liability, and a Prince George’s County jury awarded Plaintiff $28,816.59. Not sure what happened here, but the jury obviously did not believe the victim.

You can get even more back injury settlements and verdicts.

What Is the Average Back Injury Settlement?

Estimates on the average back injury settlement range from $10,000 to $90,000.

Our lawyers prefer to look at median statistics than average statistics (which is how I started this post).  With back injuries, there are so many extremely minor injury claims and a smaller number of catastrophic back injury claims.  These numbers distort the settlement average in a way that can mislead.  So I prefer median statistics instead of the average.

How Much Does Steroid Injection Increase Settlement?

Steroid injections increase the average compensation payout for a back injury settlement. Epidural steroid injections signal to the insurance company that you have a more serious back injury. There are no statistics on exactly how much the average increases, and back injury settlements without surgery will almost invariably have lower compensation payouts than those with surgery. 

What Drives Back Injury Settlement Amounts?

Several factors drive settlement amounts in back injury claims:

  • Liability:  It starts here. The degree of fault or negligence and the ease of proving that responsibility are necessary to get a settlement.
  • Severity of the Injury: The more severe the injury, the higher the settlement will be. Injuries that lead to long-term or permanent disability, such as spinal cord injuries or significant disc damage, usually result in higher settlements than minor or moderate back injuries. Yes, we have had success where there has been limited treatment for the client’s back injury. But a back injury settlement without surgery will be less than a case where there is a surgery, all things being equal.  This is true even for patients who can demonstrate cervical or lumbar radiculopathy.
  • Medical Expenses and Lost Wages:  Out-of-pocket expenses can really drive a settlement.  This includes the “not really out of pocket expenses like medical bills paid by insurance, at least in most jurisdictions. This is one reason why case with surgery have a higher settlement value that cases without surgery: the medical bills are higher.
  • Pain and Suffering: This is a subjective measure of the physical discomfort and emotional distress caused by the injury. It can be challenging to quantify, but it is essential to most personal injury settlements.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: If the injury has affected the claimant’s ability to enjoy life, participate in activities they once enjoyed, or carry out day-to-day tasks, this will influence the settlement amount.
  • Strength of Evidence: The amount of evidence supporting the claimant’s case can influence the settlement amount. Objective injuries are worth more than subjective injuries, again, all things being equal.  Strong evidence that clearly shows the other party’s liability, the extent of the injury, and its effects on the claimant can result in a higher settlement.
  • Your Accident Attorney:  We put this last.  But it is essential.  Your lawyer matters.  The attorney’s skills and experience representing the claimant can also influence the settlement amount. An experienced personal injury attorney will more successfully negotiate a higher settlement.

Remember that each case is unique, and the factors influencing a settlement can vary significantly from one case to another.

Understand the Value of Your Back Injury Case

Statistics, sample settlements, and jury verdicts get you started in understanding the range of value for your case.  But they are just the beginning of the analysis. Statistics and prior cases cannot predict the value of your case.  There is no back injury settlement calculator.  Too many variables are in the mix to isolate the factors that led those results to go as they did.  There is just no formula or metric to calculate a settlement payout of an individual back injury claim.

Still, these examples of back injury settlements and verdicts I gave you above are not without value.  They are one tool of many at your disposal to help narrow the likely range trial range of your case, which is ultimately the number the insurance companies will use to calculate your settlement compensation.

If you want to learn more about your case, you can get a free online case evaluation or call me at 800-553-8082.

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