Herniated discs can result from any number of kinds of accidents. A herniated disc can result in everything from mild discomfort to a permanent injury that requires significant medical intervention. In some instances, it can even leave a person permanently disabled. If you suffered a herniated disc due to another’s wrongdoing, you could recover compensation. However, the amount you will be able to recover is somewhat unpredictable, as the amount largely depends on the severity of your accident, and the severity of a herniated disc depends on the circumstances of the accident. You should consult with a personal injury attorney to get an accurate determination about how much you could recover for your herniated disc injury. However, some common factors come into play in determining the value of a herniated disc case, as discussed further below.
What Exactly is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc, also referred to as a slipped or ruptured disk, refers to an issue with one of the rubbery cushions that sit between the vertebrae that stack to create your spine. Generally, when these injuries occur, a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out of the annulus into the spinal canal through a tear or rupture in the annulus. A herniated disc can often cause uncomfortable and painful symptoms, such as:
- Leg or Arm Pain: If the herniated disc is in the lower back, you can feel pain in your thigh, calf, or buttocks. You may also have pain in your foot. However, if the herniated disc is in your neck, you may feel pain in your arm and shoulders, or this pain may shoot into your leg or arm when you move into certain positions, sneeze, or cough.
- Tingling Sensation: Those who suffer a herniated disk may periodically have a tingling sensation in their body parts served by the affected nerves. They may also have radiating numbness.
- Body Weakness: Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken following a herniated disc injury. Consequently, victims may lack the strength to keep stable, and they may stumble or have limited ability to hold items or lift objects.
Common Causes of Herniated Discs
A herniated disc may result from many types of accidents, though are more common after:
Herniated discs are especially common injuries in car accidents. Yet, regardless of the cause, if you believe someone else’s negligent actions led to your herniated disc, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable herniated disc accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can promptly review your accident and figure out if you have a viable claim.
How Much Money Can You Expect From a Herniated Disc Settlement?
Following a herniated disc accident, you are likely to want to know immediately how much compensation you can recover. While no lawyer can tell you in advance exactly how much a case may be worth, they can take into account the unique factual circumstances of the accident and your injuries to determine how much you potentially stand to recover. The four most important factors are:
- The limits of the defendant’s insurance policy
- The nature of the defendant’s misconduct that led to the accident in which you sustained your herniated disc injury
- The jurisdiction and the applicable state and local laws
- The severity of the herniated disc injury and the expenses and impacts you have incurred as a result of it.
National Statistics—Herniated Disc Recovery Amounts
While the specific amount you recover in a herniated disc injury claim may vary widely, as a general matter, victims tend to recover significant amounts. The national average verdict for a herniated disc injury case is approximately $360,000, while the median settlement amount is close to $65,000. The median is a better indicator of what a claimant is likely to recover, as it is nearer to the middle of most of the settlement amounts, while the average is skewed higher given unusually high outlier settlements and court awards. Just one in twenty claimants recover over $1,000,000, while the majority of claimants garner less than $100,000.
What Factors Will the Insurance Company Look at Following a Herniated Disc Accident?
The amount you can recover in a settlement will depend in part on how the defendant’s insurance company evaluates your claim. As mentioned previously, the limits of an insurance policy play a significant role in determining how much money you can get following a herniated disc accident. But insurance companies do not need to pay up to the limits of the policy, and they are not incentivized to do so, as paying out more reduces their profits. Thus, an insurance company will look for any way to be able to deny your claim or reduce its value. For instance, an insurance company may look for evidence that the herniated disc was not caused by their insured’s actions, or at least that other circumstances significantly contributed to the injury, such as:
- Your medical history of back pain or neck pain.
- Whether you delayed getting medical treatment for your herniated disc.
- Your age, since the older you are, the more likely it is the injury is due to aging.
- Whether you completed all medical treatments that your medical care provider recommended.
On the other hand, the insurance company also wants to avoid the risk of having to pay out more by having to go to trial and have a court decide how much they owe. The stronger they perceive your case is, and the more substantial your expenses and impacts from the injury, the more they will be willing to settle for. The following may lead the insurance company to settle for a greater amount:
- If it is clear from the evidence that their insured directly caused your herniated disc injury, and that you had no pre-existing condition that could have significantly contributed.
- If you cannot work in your previous job due to your herniated disc injury
- If your healthcare provider prescribes ongoing treatment for your herniated disc injury
- If you have suffered significant pain and suffering as a result of your herniated disc injury
- If you lost wages because of your herniated disc injury
- If you need to hire help with activities you could do before the incident, such as taking care of your children
These are just some common examples of factors that can come into play in an insurance company’s evaluation of how much to settle for, and the factors that matter for your case will depend on the unique facts of your accident and injuries. Thus, it is important to hire an experienced herniated disc injury attorney who will know the evidence to look for to build your case and make strong legal arguments to convince an insurance company that you can hold them accountable in court for their insured’s wrongdoing, and that they are best off settling for a fair amount.
Types of Damages You Can Pursue In a Herniated Disc Accident Claim
If you suffered a herniated disc injury because of another person’s wrongful actions, there are two kinds of compensatory damages you may recover, including: Economic Damages: These damages refer to the verifiable expenses that result from an accident, such as:
- Medical bills, including past, current, and anticipated future medical expenses; these may include bills for surgeries, prescription medications, emergency medical services, hospital stays, doctor visits, and assistive medical devices
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Replacement services
- Rehabilitative services, including physical and occupational therapy
- Other out-of-pocket expenses related to your herniated disc injury
Non-economic Damages: These damages refer to the less tangible, subjective losses that follow an accident. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a limb
Do Not Take on the Insurance Company Alone In Your Herniated Disc Accident Claim
Following an accident, such as a car crash that leaves you dealing with a herniated disc, it is not uncommon for the insurance company to call right away to discuss the accident, and also possibly to offer a quick settlement. It is important to keep in mind that the insurance company is not there to help you. Instead, they are a business that wants to make money, and by offering you less in a settlement or denying your claim altogether, they can make more money. By talking to you, they hope to recover information that can help them deny or reduce your claim, and they may also attempt to persuade you into settling for much less than you deserve. That is why before you speak with the insurance adjuster about your accident, you want to first reach out to an experienced herniated disc accident lawyer. These attorneys can not only help prepare you for what you can expect from these adjusters, but they can take over discussions with the insurance company on your behalf, helping preserve your claim and ensuring you are fully advised about how fair any settlement offer is.
Other Factors that Can Jeopardize Your Herniated Disc Claim
In bringing a claim for a herniated disc injury, you also need to make sure you avoid the following mistakes that can jeopardize your case:
Waiting Too Long to File
Each state has deadlines to file personal injury claims, called the statute of limitations. The deadline may vary depending on several things, including the kind of accident that caused your herniated disc and who the defendant is. If you do not file your lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations, you may be barred from collecting compensation for your injuries and losses. Because of this, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your herniated disc injury so that they can determine when your deadline to file is and make sure you handle your claim on time.
Posting Comments About the Accident and Your Injuries On Your Social Media Sites
Although you might not think much about posing about your herniated disc accident on your social media accounts, doing so can end up hurting your claim. The insurance company will use what you post online against you. An insurance company may try to take what you have said about the accident on social media to fight your claim about whether their insured actually caused the accident, or about whether your injuries are really as severe as you claim. Anything you say publicly about the accident should at least go through your attorney first.
Following a Herniated Disc Accident, Get the Legal Help You Need
While there is no way to tell exactly how much money you can get in a herniated disc accident settlement, you deserve to recover every dollar you deserve for this kind of injury. Even smaller claims can take a heavy toll—if someone else is responsible, they should pay. Claiming all you deserve requires understanding the evidence you need and the laws that dictate how much you can recover. Most herniated disc accident victims can’t collect the evidence necessary to prove their case and don’t know the applicable laws. Fortunately, when you work with an experienced herniated disc accident attorney, you do not have to worry about taking on this legal battle alone. Instead, you can focus on your healing and recovery while these lawyers fight for the settlement you deserve. A lawyer can:
- Evaluate your legal claim, figure out if you have a viable case, and determine the legal options you may pursue
- Answer all the questions you have regarding the accident and the legal process involved in your case
- Investigate the accident and gather the evidence needed to show fault and damages
- Obtain experts such as doctors, accident reconstructionists, and others to prove liability and substantiate your claim
- Handle all the negotiations with the other side, including the insurance company, and fight for a fair herniated disc settlement
- Take your case to trial if the other side is unwilling to negotiate, and fight for maximum damages
If you or a loved one suffered a herniated disc injury because of another person’s wrongful actions, do not wait any longer to secure the legal help you need.