The Basics of Herniated Disc Settlements in Car Accidents

Car accidents can exert significant force on different areas of the body. Some strains can surpass the limit of what the human body can endure. Even at low speeds, car crashes can cause enough physical trauma to result in various head, neck, and back injuries. 

One of the common back injuries that car accident victims may sustain after a motor vehicle crash is herniated discs. These discs sit between the vertebrae and serve as shock absorbers for the bones in the spine. 

Each spinal disc has a tough outer covering known as annulus fibrosus, which supports the softer interior. Disc herniation occurs when a force, such as the impact of a car accident, breaks the disc’s outer layer open and causes the interior to leak into the spinal canal. 

The leaked material from herniated discs may press against the nerves in the spinal cavity, resulting in severe pain and inflammation. When a car accident causes or exacerbates a herniated disc injury, victims could recover financial compensation.

However, accident victims need proper medical treatment and legal representation to receive fair compensation. Learn about the basics of herniated disc settlements in car accidents and the role of personal injury attorneys in building your case.

Key Takeaways
  • The sudden force of a car crash can result in severe herniated disc injuries, causing significant pain and suffering. Victims could seek compensation if they sustained a herniated disc injury in a car accident.
  • Numerous factors can impact how much you recover in a herniated disc settlement. However, no specific formula accurately determines the value of a herniated disc case.
  • Getting prompt medical attention and legal help are the best ways to protect your rights after sustaining a herniated disc injury in an auto accident.

Different Types of Herniated Discs From Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause disc herniation at various spine levels, depending on the severity and nature of the collision. The following are the different types of herniated disc injuries that accident victims may experience after a crash. 

  • Cervical Herniation

This type of herniated disc happens in the cervical spine or neck region. It commonly occurs in rear-end or T-bone collisions. The force of the impact may cause the disc material to bulge outward, resulting in cervical herniation. 

  • Thoracic Herniation

Although uncommon, this type of herniated disc may cause pain in the upper and middle section of the back, known as the thoracic spine.

A thoracic herniated disc can lead to the compression of the spinal cord or nerves. The injury may cause pain, numbness, and difficulty walking. 

  • Lumbar Herniation

This type of herniated disc occurs in the lumbar spine or lower back region. It is commonly seen in car accidents involving rear-end, head-on, and sideswipe collisions. 

The compression of the nerve root in the lumbar spine can result in sciatic pain. It may feel like a bad leg cramp or what most patients describe as a feeling of an electric shock. 

Not all herniated disc cases are the same. The symptoms can differ significantly, depending on the location and size of disc herniation. Some symptoms of herniated discs may resemble other medical conditions. 

The initial assessment at the emergency department after the crash often results in a primary back pain diagnosis. However, a doctor may recommend multiple diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions and verify a herniated disc injury. 

Hence, receiving medical care right after a car accident is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Medical evidence and objective testing are also valuable in determining whether the car crash caused disc herniation. 

Who is liable for herniated disc injuries in car accidents?

All motorists have a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care when operating their vehicles. Breaching this legal duty may lead to auto accidents and serious injuries, including herniated discs. Examples of breaches include speeding, texting while driving, or disregarding traffic rules. 

A negligence case occurs when a breach of legal duty harms another person and results in actual damages. The negligent driver who caused the crash can be held financially responsible for herniated disc injuries sustained in car accidents. 

However, the state’s auto insurance laws will determine whose insurance company will pay for damages from car accident injuries. It also further establishes if there are any limitations on the accident victim’s ability to sue the at-fault driver. 

Victims need to understand the difference between no-fault and at-fault insurance systems and how they can affect the recovery process for damages from bodily injuries. 

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No-fault states

Many states use a no-fault system to prevent a tremendous volume of insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. In these states, accident victims could still be responsible for covering the costs of herniated disc injuries, even if it’s not their fault. 

No-fault states require all drivers to carry minimum personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Regardless of fault, every driver involved in an accident must file a claim with their insurance provider. 

The extent of PIP coverage varies by state. But in states with comprehensive benefits, policyholders may obtain compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and other out-of-pocket expenses. If the costs of the accident exceed the insurance coverage, victims can file a lawsuit against the party responsible for the crash. 

In a no-fault state, legal action is only possible if the personal injury case meets specific conditions, also known as tort thresholds. These refer to the minimum level of injury severity or statutory amount for medical costs to pursue a legal claim against the at-fault party. 

More importantly, the no-fault system doesn’t apply to property damage. Suppose the other driver was negligent and caused the crash. In that case, they’re still responsible for the costs of repairing and replacing your vehicle. 

At-fault states

In states that follow the at-fault system, the driver who caused the accident is liable for herniated disc injuries and losses. The at-fault driver may compensate you out of pocket, or you can file a personal injury claim with their insurance company to pursue damages. 

The insurance company will investigate who is at fault for the crash. They will also review your claim and verify whether you have suffered actual injuries and losses. If the insurer approves your claim, you can recoup the costs for your medical expenses and other damages. 

What’s the average herniated disc settlement in car accidents?

Even if two herniated disc injuries appear identical on an MRI, they may affect the car accident victims’ lives differently. Hence, determining the average settlement amount for a herniated disc injury can be challenging and depends on numerous factors. 

Factors to maximize your herniated disc settlement value

There’s no specific equation that can determine the exact settlement value of your herniated case. But certain factors can help provide insights into how much you can expect from your car accident settlement. 

While you have little control over most of these factors, you can use them to maximize the payout for your injuries. 

  • Substantial economic damages

Economic damages refer to losses that have a direct monetary value. They may include ongoing and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and other injury-related expenses. 

Most states do not have caps on economic damages. Thus, with proper documentation of expenses, you can increase the value of your herniated disc claim. Invoices, bills, and receipts are some evidence you can use to prove your economic damages. 

The more substantial the lost income and medical bills are, the higher the injury settlement amount victims will likely recoup for their herniated discs. 

  • Type of herniated disc treatment required

The medical procedures required to treat disc herniation are a significant factor in calculating your settlement amount. Some herniated cases may only need steroid injections to relieve pain. However, a more severe disc herniation may require physical therapy and surgical procedures, such as spinal fusion and artificial disc replacement. 

A herniated disc claim requiring more invasive and extensive medical treatment will likely lead to higher compensation. A few reasons for this are the increased medical costs associated with the claim, more extended recovery period, and missed work, causing loss of income. 

  • Long-term or permanent disability 

The severity of your herniated disc injuries also impacts your settlement. 

If your disc herniation results in permanent injury and disability, you have a higher chance of a larger payout. Permanent disability affects your recovery time, medical expenses, earning capacity, and quality of life. 

You can also seek compensation for lost earning capacity if you cannot return to your old job because of herniated disc injury. It’s the income you lose due to disc herniation’s long-term or permanent impact. 

  • Physical and emotional pain

Non-economic damages are also an essential aspect of every personal injury claim. These are subjective losses that accident victims incur due to herniated disc injury. 

Examples include physical and emotional pain, loss of enjoyment, and diminished quality of life. More severe herniated disc injuries are eligible for higher pain and suffering damages, which could increase settlement value. 

Factors that limit your herniated disc settlement amount

Insurance companies may seek to take full advantage of any uncertainties in your case to reject or minimize claims. Understanding the factors that limit your herniated disc settlement amount can help prevent insurers from exploiting them. 

  • Pre-existing conditions

A pre-existing health condition can complicate your herniated disc case. Disc herniation is among the most frequent pre-existing injuries in car accidents. Insurance adjusters may claim that your herniated disc injuries pre-dated the incident to reduce your settlement amount. 

The Eggshell Skull Rule protects injured victims with pre-existing conditions. Even if your pre-existing condition makes you more susceptible to serious injuries, the at-fault driver is still liable for the actual damages resulting from the accident. 

However, having a pre-existing condition during the crash doesn’t automatically make you eligible for compensation. There must be proof that the accident exacerbates the pre-existing condition and causes the subsequent injury. 

  • Delayed medical treatment

Delayed medical treatment can also hurt your chances of getting maximum compensation. If your medical records show that you didn’t seek prompt medical attention, the insurance adjuster may use it against you. 

They may argue that your injuries are not as serious and that delaying treatment has worsened your symptoms. Insurers can use this as evidence to discredit or reduce your compensation. The longer you wait, the more the insurance company will question your claim. 

  • Shared fault rules

The state’s shared fault rules can also affect the determination of fault and settlement of claims. In states that follow a comparative negligence rule, you can receive compensation even if you’re 99% responsible for the crash. 

However, it reduces the amount you can recover based on the percentage of your fault. Meanwhile, states that still use the contributory negligence system bar you from recovering any damages even if you’re only 1% at fault for the accident. 

  • Insurance limits

The at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits also determine how much the insurer can pay for car accident settlements. 

The insurance company’s liability is limited to the available coverage of the driver at fault. Let’s say the driver only carries minimum auto insurance coverage. You may not obtain full compensation for the claim even if they’re entirely responsible for the crash. 

It’s possible to pursue damages beyond the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy. But, this may require strong evidence to support severe injuries and substantial losses. You may consider working with a personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling this process. 

How can a personal injury lawyer help settle your herniated disc claim?

Many accident victims settle their herniated disc claims without legal advice or representation from an attorney. Although possible, handling your personal injury case can bring more harm than good. 

Several factors contribute to determining the worth of a herniated disc claim. Without experience and knowledge of the law, obtaining the maximum compensation you legally deserve can be challenging. 

A successful personal injury claim requires an investigation into liability, injuries and their causation, and availability of insurance. It can be challenging to do for someone who’s not a lawyer. You can easily miss any essential details that would help build your case. 

A car accident lawyer will investigate and collect the necessary evidence to support your claim. They will collaborate with expert witnesses to prove and link your disc herniation to the crash. Lawyers also know how to deal with insurance companies and negotiate for the maximum herniated disc settlement amount. 

Remember that you don’t have to agree on the amount the insurance company offers, especially the first one. Unfortunately, people representing themselves lack the skills and experience to leverage for a higher amount. 

With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney specializing in car accident cases, you can make a counteroffer and get the compensation you legally deserve. The lawyer can also file a herniated disc lawsuit if you cannot reach a fair settlement with the insurance company.

Ensure Maximum Herniated Disc Settlement in a Car Accident

Did you sustain herniated disc injuries after a car accident? You may be eligible to recover considerable compensation through a settlement. 

Unfortunately, most insurance companies underestimate herniated disc claims. Insurers may pressure you to agree to low settlement offers before having all the necessary information to understand how much you can recover. 

They may even convince accident victims that obtaining legal help isn’t necessary. Insurance adjusters prefer to negotiate with you directly, knowing they can persuade you to settle for a lesser amount. 

An attorney can help you secure a higher settlement. Consider working with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure maximum herniated disc settlement. The Personal Injury Center offers a free consultation for accident victims. Contact us today, and we’ll match you to a reputable law firm with competent attorneys specializing in your case. 

Seek the best legal assistance to maximize your herniated disc claim. Connect with a lawyer for a case evaluation through The Personal Injury Center. 

FAQs on Herniated Disc Settlements in Car Accidents

Signs and symptoms of herniated discs depend on the location of the injury in the spine. Overall, symptoms tend to worsen with movement. As a result, most patients recognize their symptoms during physical activity. Below are common herniated disc symptoms to be aware of after a car accident. 

  • Pain that radiates from the back and extends to the arms and legs
  • Neck pain accompanied by numbness or tingling sensations in the arms
  • Pain that worsens after standing, sitting, or sleeping
  • Muscle weakness that causes stumbling or affects your capacity to lift or hold objects
  • Radiating numbness or tingling on the back of the calf or sole

The time it takes to settle a herniated disc claim depends on several factors. These factors may include the specifics of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the level of cooperation among all the parties involved. While some herniated disc settlements may quickly resolve within a few months, others may take a year or more. 

To prove you suffered an actual herniated disc injury in a car accident settlement, you may need to collect and provide the following evidence:

  • Medical records and hospital bills
  • Documentation of missed work and lost income
  • Diagnostic imaging reports like CT scans, X-rays, or MRIs
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • Consultations with medical specialists