Sciatica in Personal Injury Cases

In this post, we will talk about sciatica as an injury in accident lawsuits. Sciatica is a condition involving nerve pain from impingement on the sciatic nerve. It is something that we commonly see in personal injury lawsuits and it can potentially increase the settlement value of a case.


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What is Sciatica?

Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that happens when your sciatic nerve gets injured or irritated. Along with pain, you might feel tingling or numbness in your back or buttocks, and this sensation might also travel down your leg. Sometimes, the symptoms can be quite severe.

Your sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in your body. It’s about as wide as a penny. Despite its name, it’s not just one nerve but a bunch of nerves that come from five different nerve roots branching off from your spinal cord.

You have two sciatic nerves, one on each side of your body. Each one runs through your hip and buttock on its side and continues down the leg until just below your knee. From there, it splits into other nerves that connect to different parts of your lower body, like your lower leg, foot, and toes.

When you have sciatica, you can feel pain anywhere the nerves connected to the sciatic nerve reach. This means you might feel symptoms in your lower back, hips, buttocks, or legs. Sometimes, the pain can even travel all the way down to your feet and toes, depending on which nerve or nerves are affected.

Sciatica is a very common condition that becomes much more common as people get older. It is estimated 40% of adults in the U.S. will suffer from some type of sciatic during their life. Sciatica is exceedingly rare in younger people.

2 Types of Sciatica

There are 2 different recognized types of categories of sciatica. The symptoms and impact of both types are essentially the same.

  • True Sciatica: True sciatica occurs when there is an actual condition or injury that impacts the sciatic nerve.
  • Sciatica-Like Conditions: These are various other conditions that result in the same exact feeling or sensations of pain as sciatica, but which are triggered by other causes related to the sciatic nerve or nerves that feed into it.

Both of these different types are usually referred to collectively as “sciatica,” and the distinction only really matters in terms of determining the most effective treatment option.

Symptoms of Sciatica

The symptoms of sciatica can vary from person to person, but common signs include:

Pain: The hallmark symptom of sciatica is a sharp, shooting pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve. This pain can be intense and may feel like a jolt or electric shock. It typically starts in the lower back or buttocks and can extend down one leg, often reaching the calf or foot.

Numbness and Tingling: Many people with sciatica experience numbness, tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations along the affected leg. This sensation can accompany the pain and may worsen with movement or prolonged sitting.

Muscle Weakness: Weakness in the affected leg muscles is another common symptom of sciatica. This weakness may make it difficult to move the leg or foot normally and can affect balance and coordination.

Difficulty Standing or Sitting: Sciatica pain often worsens with certain activities, such as standing or sitting for prolonged periods. Changing positions may provide temporary relief, but the pain may return when resuming the aggravating activity.

Burning Sensation: Some people with sciatica describe a burning sensation along the path of the affected nerve. This sensation can be constant or intermittent and may worsen with certain movements or activities.

Radiating Pain: The pain from sciatica typically follows a specific pattern, radiating from the lower back or buttocks down one leg. The intensity of the pain can vary, and it may be accompanied by other symptoms like numbness or tingling.

Difficulty Walking: Severe sciatica pain or muscle weakness may make it challenging to walk or bear weight on the affected leg. This difficulty walking can significantly impact daily activities and quality of life.

Causes of Sciatica in Accidents

Car accidents, slip and falls, and other types of physical accidents and injuries can trigger sciatica. One of the most common accident injuries that can frequently result in sciatica is a disc herniation. When a herniated disc in the lower spine from an accident it will often irritate the sciatic nerve roots. This can cause a particularly painful case of sciatica.

Sciatica Verdicts and Settlements

$2,000,000 Settlement (California 2024): Plaintiff was driving north at 40 mph and was approaching an intersection with a green traffic light. As she entered the intersection, a loaded tow truck, driving south, turned left into her path of travel, causing a head-on collision. The plaintiff suffered a burst fracture to her right talus and calcaneous, a left lateral tibial plateau fracture, compression fractures to her T3 and T4 vertebrae, fractures to her left ring and pinky fingers, five rib fractures which caused severe and chronic sciatica pain. See more California Verdicts.

$7,000 Verdict (Pennsylvania 2023): The plaintiff, 58-years-old, was in her vehicle parked on a street next to a bike lane when it was struck on the driver’s side door by a vehicle operated by defendant. The plaintiff claimed to suffer sciatica secondary to disc herniations at L4-S1, bulging disc at L3-L4, aggravation of degenerative joint disease, and cervical, thoracic and lumbar sprain/strain. The jury was clearly doubtful of her claims because they only gave her $7,000.

$176,000 Verdict (Pennsylvania 2023): The plaintiff was stopped at a yield sign when she was rear-ended by the defendant. The plaintiff claimed to suffer permanent injuries including cervical radiculopathy with disc displacement, requiring multi-level cervical discectomy, decompression and fusion surgery, dystonia, stenosis, somatic dysfunction of the neck, and chronic sciatica. Verdict included $130,00 for pain and suffering.

$35,319 Verdict (Nevada 2023): The plaintiff was making a left turn on a green arrow at an intersection when the defendant, traveling in the opposite direction, ran a red light and struck her. The plaintiff reportedly suffered lumbar sprain/strain, facet joint edema at L3-L5, left side sciatica, lumbar radiculopathy cervicalgia, post-concussive syndrome, and contusions to her left hip and ankle.

$35,000 Verdict (New York 2023): The plaintiff, 64-years-old, said she was lawfully horseback riding under the direction, control and supervision of defendant when the horse jumped, causing her to be launched into the air and back down onto the back of the horse. The plaintiff claimed to suffer permanent injuries including a compression fracture at T-11, sciatica, disc herniation, lumbar disc bulges with stenosis, T-12 endplate disruption, lumbar spondylolisthesis, and thoracic and lumbar strain/sprain.

Contact Us About a Sciatica Injury Case

If you are suffering from sciatica due to a physical injury cased by someone’s else negligence, call our lawyers today for a free case evaluation. Call us at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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