Our law firm handles herniated disc accident cases in Maryland and around the country. Our lawyers have handled literally hundreds of herniated disc claims and know the science and the medicine of these cases extremely well.
Below are commonly asked questions about herniated disc cases which provides an overview of these spinal injury cases when caused by a car accident or other trauma. We also provide example MRI reports and operative notes in herniated disc cases so you can see the records that are generated in these cases. Ultimately, for settlement purposes, we are usually fighting more about what the medical records "say" than anything else.
Spinal discs are round cushions that lie in between the vertebrae of the spinal column. These discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae, cushioning them when we contort our bodies in everyday life. These discs have an external shell and a liquid substance in the middle. The metaphor we often use with juries in personal injury cases is that the discs are like jelly donuts. If a disc is injured as the result of trauma in an auto accident, the "jelly" may leak out of the disc. If the inner core of the disc extrudes back into the spinal canal, it may impact a nerve root. The weak spot in a disc is directly under the nerve root, and a herniated disc can put significant pressure on the nerve, which can cause pain to radiate throughout the person's body.
Where the pain radiates in the body depends on where the disc herniation occurs. When a patient has a symptomatic slipped or herniated disc, the pain is not in the disc area. It is pinching a nerve in the spine that causes radicular pain.
This radicular pain is typically described as a pain that shoots through the body, usually to one area in particular, since each nerve in the spine is connected to a specific area of the body. This pain can be leg pain if the herniation is in the lumbar (back), or arm pain from a cervical (neck) disc.
These injuries are rarely diagnosed in the emergency room after a motor vehicle accident. This is because the disc is invisible on an x-ray.
Accordingly, a patient typically needs a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test so that a physician can pick up the injury. A discography, myelography, or an electromyography are also used to diagnose compromised discs.
Medical experts agree that these diagnostic tests cannot diagnose the injury victim's pain. There is no clear-cut correlation between the degree of the herniation and the patient's pain symptoms because there are so many other variables involved.What is a herniated disc case worth by settlement or at trial?
Because our lawyers have successfully tried many disc injury cases and have received national exposure for our jury verdicts in these cases, we receive at least once a week this inquiry: what is the settlement or trial value of my herniated disc injury that was caused by an auto accident? You can find some information on this in the box on the right. The answer, naturally, is that it depends on the injury. Some herniated disc injuries leave a patient in constant pain for the rest of their lives. These patients try traction, steroid injections, therapy and surgery and still find themselves in pain that will last a lifetime. Assuming (1) no question as to responsibility for the auto accident, (2) no preexisting injury or pre-accident degenerative disease, and (3) reasonable insurance coverage for the at-fault driver, the settlement value of these types of herniated disc cases are almost invariably six figure and sometimes even seven figure cases.
Pre-existing Disc Injuries
The more complicated cases involve pre-existing injuries. A favorite tactic of lawyers defending personal injury cases on behalf of the insurance companies involving spinal injuries is pointing the finger at pre-existing degenerative problems with a patient's spine such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, and spondylolisthesis. Most of these are conditions that begin in many people in their early 30s. Therefore, it must be established that the patient's problems are not due to the degenerative condition, but to the trauma sustained in the accident.
All of this begs the question of what happens when a person has a pre-existing herniated disc or some type of degenerative changes and was asymptomatic (without symptoms) before the accident. There are two Maryland jury instructions on point: the susceptibility instruction (Maryland Pattern Jury Instruction 10:3) and aggravation of preexisting condition instruction (Maryland Pattern Jury Instruction 10:4).
If you have either one of these issues, you must be able to clearly articulate the difference between your problems and treatment before the auto accident and your current condition. If there is no difference in your condition after the accident, your chances of a substantial recovery diminish dramatically. On the other hand, if there is a notable difference in your pain and way of life after the motor vehicle collision that would not have occurred in the absence of the accident, your chance of a quality settlement increases dramatically.
- Learn more about the best way to maximize the value of claims where the insurance company is arguing degenerative disc disease
Our law firm has handled literally hundreds of herniated disc injury cases. We know the science, we know the experts, and we know exactly what to expect. We know how to try these cases to a jury and how to win them. Call us today to discuss what we can do about your case at 800-553-8082. You can also get an almost instant online consultation here.Example MRI Reports and Operative Notes
- Sample Report of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Thoracic Spine
- Sample Report of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Cervical Spine, without contrast
- Sample Report of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Cervical Spine & Lumbar Spine
- Sample Operative Notes on Lumbar Spine
- Sample Operative Notes on Cervical Spine
- Anterior Cervical Fusion Surgery Video
- Looking at the Value of Herniated Disc Cases: How Much Money Are Juries Giving in These Cases?
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Learn about C4/C5 and C5/C6 disc injury cases
- How spondylosis cases play out for settlement and at trial)
- What is the difference between a bulging disc and a herniated disc and why it matters for your claim?
- An overview of the science and the medicine of back injuries
- An overview of spinal injury claims in Maryland)
- Chiropractic malpractice: when your healer misdiagnoses your injuries and makes them worse
- Personal Injury Claims More Generally
- Contact a lawyer at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation anywhere in the United States