Our lawyers represent car accident victims throughout the country in herniated disc injury cases. We have settled or taken to trial hundreds of herniated disc car crash claims. We understand the science of these cases and the settlement amounts victims should receive in disc injury lawsuits.
Herniated Disc Injuries
Herniated disc injuries in car accidents are a common type of injury that can result from the impact of a collision. The spine is a complex structure that supports the body and allows for movement. It is composed of 33 individual vertebrae and numerous intervertebral discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae. When a car accident occurs, the force of the impact can cause damage to these discs, leading to a herniated disc injury. You will hear people use terms like “slipped disc” or “ruptured disc” is often used to describe this condition. They all mean the same thing.
A herniated disc is a condition in which the soft, jelly-like center of a spinal disc (known as the nucleus) is pushed through a tear in the harder, rubbery exterior of the disc (known as the annulus). This results in a portion of the nucleus bulging out. So what happens, and where the shooting pain comes from, is pressure against the surrounding nerves or spinal cord.
The most common location for a herniated disc from a car accident is in the neck (cervical) but we also see a lot of low-back and mid-back disc injuries in crashes.
Why Do I Have Arm and Leg Pain from a Herniated Disc?
When people feel pain in their arms or legs, but MRI scans don’t show any problems with their nerves, this is radiculitis. It is caused by inflammation of the spinal nerve roots and is often the result of a herniated disc in the spine. Radiculitis is usually diagnosed when a patient has pain in the arms or legs and an MRI does not show any nerve damage.
This happens because the center of their spinal discs, called the nucleus pulposus, is made of materials that the body recognizes as foreign. When the jelly-like center leaks out of the disc and touches nearby nerves, it causes inflammation and pain. So the soft center of the disc bulges out and presses against the nerve roots. This pressure can cause pain, numbness, and weakness to radiate down the arms or legs.
How Do Car Accidents Cause Disc Herniations?
Car accidents can cause disc herniations due to the biomechanical forces that occur during the collision. The spine is composed of individual vertebrae stacked on top of one another, separated by intervertebral discs. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae and allow the spine to move and bend.
During a car accident, the body can be subjected to sudden and forceful impacts, which can cause the spine to be compressed, twisted, or otherwise subjected to abnormal forces. When the intervertebral discs are subjected to these abnormal forces, the outer layer of the disc (the annulus fibrosus) can be torn, causing the gel-like inner layer (the nucleus pulposus) to bulge out or herniate.
In some cases, the herniated disc can impinge on nearby nerves, causing pain and other symptoms. The type of injury that occurs depends on the location of the herniated disc and the severity of the impact.
The biomechanics of a car accident can cause disc herniations in different ways. For example, a rear-end collision can result in a sudden and forceful impact that compresses the spine, causing a disc to herniate. On the other hand, a side-impact collision can result in a twisting force that causes a disc to herniate.
Symptoms of Herniated Disc
Symptoms of a herniated disc following a car accident may vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Common symptoms include:
- Back pain: This can range from a dull ache to sharp pain that worsens with movement
- Numbness or tingling: This can occur in the affected area, such as the legs, feet, or arms
- Weakness: This can be experienced in the affected area, such as the legs or arms
- Sciatica: This is a condition in which the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs, is compressed by a herniated disc, causing sharp pain in the lower back, buttock, and legs.
Herniated Disc Injury Settlement Amounts
The amount of a herniated disc injury settlement can vary widely depending on several factors, including the severity of the injury, the impact it has on the victim’s quality of life, and the financial losses incurred as a result of the injury.
Herniated Disc Verdict Statistics
According to national jury verdict data, the average jury verdict award in personal injury cases involving a herniated disc injury over the last 3 years is just under $360,000. The median jury verdict in herniated disc injury cases is $80,000. The average verdict number is highly misleading for a number of reasons. First, the average verdict award is always going to be inflated by the small percentage of outlier cases which resulted in massive, multi-million dollar verdicts. All it takes is a few unique cases in which the jury awards $5 or $10 million to skew the average verdict number. These big award cases usually involve unique circumstances and, therefore, they are not really representative of your typical herniated disc injury case.
The other reason why these statistics (both the average and the median verdict awards) are somewhat inflated is that most of the verdicts included in the statistics were compensating a plaintiff for multiple different injuries, not just a herniated disc. You don’t see many personal injury cases in which a herniated disc is the only injury claimed by the plaintiff. The disc injury is almost always combined with a collection of other injuries such as a concussion, arm fracture, shoulder tear, etc. So while a disc injury alone may have resulted in a $50,000 verdict, what you get in the statistics is a $150,000 verdict that covers the disc injury plus everything else.
Biggest Categories of Damages for a Disc Injury
Some of the most common types of damages that are included in herniated disc injury settlements include:
- Past and future medical bills: This can include the cost of surgery, physical therapy, prescription medications, and other medical treatments related to the herniated disc injury. In most states, you are entitled to this compensation even if your insurance company or PIP carrier paid those bills already.
- Lost past and future income: If the victim is unable to work as a result of their injury, they may be able to recover compensation for the wages they would have earned if they had not been injured.
- Pain and suffering: This type of compensation is intended to compensate the victim for the physical and emotional distress they experience as a result of their injury. This is the biggest component of damages in almost every herniated disc injury case we have handled. Fair compensation includes all of the suffering the victim has had to endure.
Factors That Impact Settlement Compensation for a Disc Injury
The amount of a herniated disc injury settlement can vary widely depending on the specific circumstances of each case. In some cases, settlements may be reached quickly and for relatively modest amounts, while in others, negotiations may take longer and the settlement may be much larger.
It’s important to keep in mind that every case is unique and that the amount of a settlement will depend on a variety of factors. One big factor people do not focus on is the jurisdiction in which the case is being litigated. A cases can be worth twice as much as it would in the country or city right next door.
Severity of Injury Is the Biggest Factor
One of the most important factors in determining the amount of a herniated disc injury settlement is the severity of the injury. In general, the more serious the injury, the more compensation the victim is likely to receive. For example, if the herniated disc is causing chronic pain or has resulted in permanent nerve damage, the settlement is likely to be higher than if the injury is less serious.
Other Factors for Settlement Value
Another factor that can impact the amount of a herniated disc injury settlement is the impact of the injury on the victim’s quality of life. For example, if the injury is causing the victim to be unable to participate in activities they once enjoyed or to miss significant time from work, the settlement is likely to be higher than if the injury has only a minor impact on the victim’s life.
Finally, the amount of a herniated disc injury settlement will also be influenced by the financial losses incurred by the victim as a result of their injury. This can include things like medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Example Herniated Disc Settlement Amount and Jury Payouts
- $1,615,000 Verdict (Florida 2023): A man suffered significant spinal injuries in a warehouse forklift accident. While attempting to load a large propane tank into a box truck, the truck unexpectedly moved due to an unapplied emergency brake. This caused the man to fall off the forklift, with the tank landing on him. As a result, he sustained a herniation of his L5-S1 intervertebral disc and trauma-induced bulges in the discs of his cervical spine. Following the accident, he sued, pointing to the truck driver’s failure to apply the brake. The man underwent medical treatments, including a laminectomy to address the disc injuries. The jury awarded him over $1.6 million for his disc injury.
- $4,500,000 Verdict (Florida 2023): While traveling as a passenger in her family’s car, a 17-year-old girl suffered a severe disc herniation among other injuries after being sideswiped by a box truck. The injury necessitated extensive medical treatment and profoundly affected her daily life. She rejected the insurance company’s $100,000 offer. Good call. The jury awared her $4.5 million in compensation for her injuries.
- $20,000 Verdict (Oregon 2023): The plaintiff claimed that she was stopped at a red light when her vehicle was rear-ended by the defendant’s vehicle, causing herniated discs in both her cervical and lumbar regions. She planned to have surgery as a result.
- $2,900,000 Verdict (California 2023): The plaintiff was driving on a freeway when a truck owned by defendant Southwest Transportation spun out of control and hit her vehicle into a concrete barrier. The plaintiff suffered a lumbar disc herniation and underwent surgery. The verdict included compensation for past medical expenses ($200,000), future medical expenses ($1.3 million), and pain and suffering ($1 million).
- $200,000 Arbitration (Pennsylvania 2022): Two plaintiffs claimed to have suffered new and/or aggravated herniated discs, as well as neck, back, shoulder, and knee injuries, when the vehicle they were in was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. The arbitrator awarded each plaintiff $100,000 in compensation.
- $100,000 Verdict (New Jersey 2022): A middle-aged female claimed to have suffered lumbar and cervical herniations after her vehicle was rear-ended by the defendant. Liability was admitted, and the case went to trial solely on damages.
- $55,000 Verdict (Pennsylvania 2022): The defendant ran a red light and hit the plaintiff’s vehicle from the side. The plaintiff claimed injuries including multiple disc herniations and protrusions in the cervical and lumbar regions of their spine.
- $72,454 Verdict (Washington 2022): The plaintiff claimed to have suffered a herniated lumbar disc with radiating pain after a rear-end collision. The verdict included compensation for past medical expenses ($20,654) and lost wages ($3,200).
- $75,000 Settlement (New York 2021): A 13-year-old male claimed to have suffered a concussion and disc herniations in the cervical region after being a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended.
- $540,142 Verdict (Texas 2021): Two plaintiffs were rear-ended by a USPS mail truck and claimed disc herniations in their lumbar regions, requiring laminectomy and discectomy procedures. The case was heard in federal court.
- $25,000 Settlement (Florida 2020): A 26-year-old female nurse claimed to have suffered cervical and lumbar herniations after the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with her vehicle. She claimed $17,733 in past medical expenses.
Is a Herniated Disc Injury Difficult To Prove?
No. A herniated disc is not hard to prove in the context of a lawsuit. Disc injuries can be accurately and reliably diagnosed through either a physical examination or by diagnostic imaging such as an MRI. As a result, the existence of the herniated disc injury is usually not disputed in a personal injury case (unlike other more difficult-to-prove injuries such as sprains and “soft tissue” damage). Instead, the focus is usually on whether the disc herniation was caused by the accident or pre-existing, degenerative conditions.
Getting a Herniated Disc Injury Lawyer for Your Claim
Our attorneys know the science, medicine, and experts in herniated disc injury cases and we know how to get you the money you deserve (and how much that be). If you have a herniated disc injury claim, call our team today at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.