When you have an injury like a herniated disc from an accident, you have a lot of questions. The most important? How much will my disc injury claim be worth in a settlement or verdict?
The "value of my case" question is the most important question victims have. Justice under our system is about money. No one can take away your injury and your pain. The only compensation you can get for the harms you have endured is money. This country was founded incorporating that very idea. Victims understandably focus their energies on how much money they will get for their suffering.
You will not find the exact value of your claim online. Any personal injury attorney that suggests there is a herniated disc settlement calculator or formula... it is all nonsense. There are just too many factors involved to make that prediction. How would you plug in permanent, intense pain in an equation?
There are, however, there are three huge variables, the jurisdiction, the insurance company, and the strength of the objective injuries. So you can use those factors to try to get a range. But there are just too many variables to say that there is some formula you can use to calculate the value of a herniated disc injury case.
But what we can do is give you information to better understand the settlement range of your case. There are two ways to do this: statistics and average jury verdicts and settlements.The Statistics
The average verdict nationally in herniated disc injury cases is approximately $360,000.
Settlement value often depends on the severity of a victim's symptoms
There it is. The average. But it does virtually nothing for you, particularly in herniated disc cases. Why? Saying you have a herniated disc from an accident can mean a lot of different things. It might tweak you a little bit when you lift something heavy. It also might be a debilitating injury that destroys your life.
The take-home message is that two herniated disc injuries that look identical on an MRI may impact victims' lives in completely different ways.
So the average values, which are never particularly instructive anyway, lose almost all meaning. Why do we provide it in the first place? People want to see the number, even with that caveat. Below are more accurate values that slice the numbers further.
Does COVID-19 impact the settlement value of herniated disc injury cases? Our lawyers have some anecdotal evidence from other attorneys that insurance companies are now assuming victims are desperate for cash and that is reflected in their settlement offers. We have not really seen much of a change in how Maryland insurance companies are valuing cases.
- What to expect when batting an insurance company in a herniated disc injury case
- More "how much?" data
- Value of cervical cases
- Value by age
- Value by type of accident
This is a listing of recent settlements and verdicts in herniated disc injury cases around the country. Is this a perfect guide for ascertaining the value of your claim? Of course not. But in conjunction with other tools, it does help victims and attorneys better understand the range of values for out-of-court resolutions and trials. It is also important to remember if you have a worker's comp case, the settlement values are different and much likely lower than what you would expect in a personal injury claim.
We practice primarily in Maryland and have handled hundreds of herniated disc injury cases. Elsewhere on our website, you can find a number of Maryland herniated cases injury cases, most of which are our law firm's verdicts and settlements. We put these in to give victims outside of Maryland information on how these cases are being valued elsewhere.
- March 2020, Illinois: $1,000,000 Settlement. Plaintiff is a front seat passenger hit on his side by the defendant who did not see the stop sign. The defendant's view was blocked by untrimmed brush. He suffered an annular tear and herniated disc that led to two surgeries. The defendant settled for $895,000 and the municipality who did not trim the brush chipped in $105,000.
- November 2019, New York: $13,920,850.74 Verdict. This is a story of how an appellate court can steal a fair, honest verdict. The plaintiff is pulled over and given a ticket. After he gets the ticket, he is hit from behind by a bus while still on the shoulder of the road. The plaintiff suffers neck and back herniated discs with radiculopathy and myelopathy. He gets an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery. A few years later, he needs a laminectomy for the placement of a spinal cord stimulator. None of this solved his chronic and severe pain. His doctor testified that he would require yet another procedure requiring the insertion of a plate and screws in his spine. Still, a New York appellate court - who, of course, did not see the trial - decided the verdict was excessive and sent it back to the trial court.
- April 2019, Texas: $247,464 Verdict Defendant fails to yield the right-of-way at a traffic circle and causes a collision with the plaintiff, who was already driving in the circle. Plaintiff driver claims injuries to his neck and back including C4-5 disc herniation, T7- 8 disc herniation, and lumbar disc herniation at L4-5. His female passenger also sues, alleging disc herniations in her neck. The jury awards the plaintiff driver $25,000 in past pain and suffering and $23,652.87 in past medicals. The passenger was awarded $140,000 in past and future pain and suffering and $58,810.65 in past medical expenses. The total verdict was $247,463.
- March 2019, Florida: $266,839 Verdict A man is driving through a busy intersection when he is struck by the defendant motorist. He herniates a disc at C3-C4 as a result of the accident. The defendant denies liability and his lawyers put on the "he is not hurt that bad" defense. The case goes to trial and the jury finds defendant 61% at fault for the accident and awards $156k for past medicals and $110k for future medicals and total damages of $266k.
- January 2018, Florida: $660,000 Verdict Plaintiff gets broadsided by a delivery truck at a busy intersection in Jacksonville. An MRI shows cervical herniations which require anterior discectomy fusion and plating (ACDF) at two levels of his cervical spine. This surgery requires the surgeon to enter through the throat. This is an important element of damages in these cases. Like most motor vehicle accident cases, the defendant accepts responsibility for the crash. The fight is over the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. There always is a doctor the insurance company can find who will tell the jury that the victim is fine now or the neck and back pain is from another cause. Thankfully, the jury does not buy this defense. They find the plaintiff’s injuries are permanent and award $660,000 in damages.
- August 2017, Florida: $70,000 Verdict The plaintiff is violently rear-ended by the defendant after coming to a stop at an intersection in Broward County. She suffers various neck and back injuries including a cervical disc herniation with continuing neck pain and bilateral hand numbness and tingling. Defendant claims that the disc herniation pain and numbness were instead from a degenerative condition. (This is another very common defense argument. Because so many of us have degenerative changes in our disc that we do not even know we have.) The case goes to trial. In this case, the jury seems to buy the defendant's argument and awards only $40,000 in damages.
- May 2017, Michigan: $329,000 Verdict Plaintiff collides with defendant at an intersection and suffers disc herniations and annular tears. He undergoes facet rhizotomy (a procedure that uses a radiofrequency probe to destroy some of the nearby nerve fibers along the vertebra causing severe pain) to both his lumbar and cervical spine. The defense claims that his injuries are non-permanent. The jury clearly views the injuries as permanent and awards damages of $329,000.
- April 2017, Florida $16,000 Verdict Plaintiff is hit in a side-impact collision after the Defendant fails to yield in downtown Miami. Alleged injuries include a herniated cervical disc and a fractured rib. Defendant admits fault but disputes the extent of the damages and claims they are attributable to pre-existing conditions. The jury finds the injuries are non-permanent and only awards $16k.
- January 2016, Florida: $581,458 Verdict Defendant takes a left-hand turn in front of the Plaintiff. He herniates two cervical discs at C5-6 and C6-7 in the crash. He receives physical therapy, chiropractic treatment and is expected to need future surgery. The jury awarded $232,000 for pain and suffering. The rest of the damages were for his past and future medical bills and lost wages. Looking through the prism of economic losses versus pain and suffering, it is surprising the jury did not award more money.
- January 2016, Illinois: $421,456 Verdict A 50-year-old male slipped and fell on a wet floor at a Ford dealer. He tore the meniscus in his knee and herniated the disc at C5-C6. The jury found the Plaintiff 5% at fault for his injuries. This reduced the award to $400,353.
- February 2015, Missouri: $143,000 Verdict A woman was hit by an uninsured driver and suffered a herniated disc. She brought an uninsured motorist claim against Cornerstone National Insurance. She also brought a claim of vexatious refusal to pay (a cause of action our attorneys wish we had in Maryland). The jury awarded $100,000 on her claim for her injury claim and also awarded $33,000 in attorneys' fees and $10,000 for Cornerstone's failure to make payment when they should have.
- June 2014, New Jersey: $800,000 Settlement A man slipped and fell in a food court in Edgewater. He injured his knee and his lower back. He was treated and discharged from a local ER. The man then sought treatment with an orthopedist shortly after that. He was treated for a torn right knee meniscus and disc herniation in his back. He underwent arthroscopic surgery three months later and then a lumbar fusion for the disc herniation the following year. He sued the market owner and the company responsible for cleaning and maintaining the market. The victim claimed accumulated water created a dangerous condition that the defendants should have known about. The parties agreed to settle during mediation for $800,000.
- April 2014, New York: $1,500,000 Settlement A 51-year-old pedestrian was crossing the street and was struck by a vehicle making a left turn. Despite the pain in her knees, back, neck, and shoulder, she waited two days to see a doctor. (Insurance company lawyers will bang you over hte head with delays in seeking treatment.) She was diagnosed with two cervical avulsion fractures, ligament tears in her knee and shoulder, lumbar and cervical disc herniations, and lumbar disc bulges. Her injuries required months of physical therapy as well as a cervical fusion. She filed a lawsuit against the driver for negligence and failure to maintain proper caution while turning. The defendant had fled the scene when a fire truck arrived because she said she did not hit the plaintiff. Her insurance company apparently disagreed and settled the case for $1.5 million.
- March 2014, New York: $1,350,000 Settlement A 30-year-old man entered an elevator of his apartment building in Queens when the ceiling hatch door fell on him. He was taken by ambulance and treated for pain in his back, head, and neck. He was diagnosed with neck and back disc herniations that required over 18 months of physical therapy as well as a spinal fusion. He sued the premises’ manager and the elevator company for negligent care and maintenance of the elevator. The plaintiff's lawyers argued the defendants created a dangerous condition by not properly securing the hatch door after recent repair work. The defendants both denied negligence, claiming the repairman did not do anything that would have caused the door to fall. The parties settled before trial for $1,350,000.
- January 2014, Florida: $1,300,000 Settlement A 50-year-old woman was driving on a perimeter road near the parking lot at Palm Beach Gardens Mall when a driver attempting to leave the lot struck the front, driver’s side of her vehicle. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she was treated for pain in her left shoulder, neck, back, and both wrists. She was referred to an orthopedist. Diagnostic tests revealed herniated lumbar and cervical discs, a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder, and aggravation of pre-existing carpal tunnel. She underwent 16 months of physical therapy. She sued the driver for negligence, claiming that he failed to maintain a proper lookout while attempting to exit the parking lot. The defendant's attorney argued the accident victim had a kidney transplant operation before the accident and that some of her physical problems were related to her long-standing kidney failure issues. The insurance company eventually caved and paid $1.3 million.
- January 2014, Georgia: $100,000 Settlement A 45-year-old woman was attempting to make a left turn from GA Highway 154 onto Highway 34 one evening when a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction collided with her vehicle. She sought treatment for back and neck pain and was diagnosed with cervical disc herniations that required three epidural injections. Her treating doctors recommended fusion surgery, but she did not have any insurance. She sued the driver of the vehicle for negligence as well as her insurance carrier, AMICA Mutual Insurance, for underinsured motorist benefits. Plaintiff claimed at-fault driver did not have his headlights activated before the collision and had sped up to the intersection after exiting at a nearby gas station. A police officer who witnessed the collision corroborated the victim's account. Defendant AMICA argued the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, claiming the plaintiff suffered from pre-existing degenerative conditions that were unrelated to the accident. Both parties agreed to settle with the plaintiff for a combined $100,000 recovery.
- January 2014, New Jersey: $1,625,000 Settlement A 40-year-old delivery truck driver was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 80. He was taken by ambulance to Hackettstown Regional Medical Center where he received medical attention for back and neck pain. He was referred to an orthopedist who diagnosed him with cervical and lumbar disc herniations. He underwent months of pain management, a total of six epidural injections, and a bi-level decompression fusion surgery. He sued the driver of the tractor-trailer and his employer for negligence, claiming that due to the driver’s negligence, he is unable to work. The trucking company had no real defense and agreed to a pre-trial settlement of $1.625 million.
- January 2014, New York: $60,000 A 55-year-old hairstylist was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended on the Bronx River Parkway. She was treated for an intervertebral disc herniation, cervical bulges, and a tendon tear in her right shoulder. She underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right shoulder and over eight months of chiropractic treatment. She sued the driver for negligence, claiming that due to her injuries she was unable to work for ten weeks, and consistently suffers residual pain and limitations. Defendants did not deny liability but argued that this was a minimum impact case. Plaintiff obviously believed there was some merit to the argument because the case settled for only $60,000.
Our attorneys get a lot of questions from victims and other attorneys about the settlement value of herniated disc injury cases. Here are some of those questions.
The litigation battlefield in a herniated disc injury case typically involves two issues. The first is whether the herniated disc is the direct result of the motor vehicle crash at issue. The second is the amount of pain and limitation that the herniated disc injury causes the plaintiff.
Even if the plaintiff's medical experts concede that the patient suffered a herniated disc before the crash, the plaintiff is still entitled to recovery if the crash made the injury worse. The best exacerbation of injury cases usually involve the plaintiff's treating doctor offering this opinion and giving a well-articulated explanation for why the crash dramatically changed the plaintiff's pain and mobility.
The most our law firm has recovered in a primary injury herniated disc injury case was a $1.35 million settlement in a truck accident case.
The median compensation award for a herniated disc injury in Maryland is between $70,000 to $100,000. Very serious herniated disc injuries (involving major complications) can be worth more than twice this amount.
- Bulging disc and herniated disc differences
- Spinal injuries
- Reading your MRI results and what they mean to the settlement value of your case
- Spondylosis motor vehicle claims (how spondylosis cases play out for settlement and at trial)
- Need a herniated disc injury lawyer for your case? Again, this is what we do. Get the legal advice you need. Call 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation.
Herniated disc cases rely on experts who, in turn, rely on the best medical literature. Here are some of the key journal articles dealing with spinal disc herniations:
- 2020: Sloan, SR. et. al: Combined nucleus pulposus augmentation and annulus fibrosus repair prevents acute intervertebral disc degeneration after discectomy. Science Translational Medicine, 2020; 12 (534): eaay2380 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay2380. This study underscores how the technology to treat disc injuries continues to improve. These surgeons describe how they used hyaluronic acid gel to reinflate the depressed disc. Then, they used collagen gel to seal the hole. One commentator calls it treating a ruptured disc injury like you would repair a flat tire. What is the upside to this technique? Doctors think it might assist in preventing disc degeneration after a discectomy.
- 2018: Cunha C, et al. The inflammatory response in the regression of lumbar disc herniation. Arthritis Res Ther 2018. 20(1):251. We are always amazed at how some clients recover well and some do poorly even though they both have similar symptoms and MRI findings. One key might be how well inflammation is controlled. This article looks at inflammation as a marker for a poor recovery from a lumbar disc herniation.
- 2008: Rasmussen C, et al. Poor outcome in patients with spine-related leg or arm pain who are involved in compensation claims: a prospective study of patients in the secondary care sector. Scand J Rheumatol. 2008;37(6):462–468. Study shows that neck pain is worse for patients with radiating pain than patients with localized pain. (What defense lawyers get out of this article is that people who make claims report more serious complications than those that do not. They like this study, too.)
- 2006: Weinstein JN, et al. Surgical vs nonoperative treatment for lumbar disk herniation: the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT): a randomized trial. JAMA 2006;296:2441-50. This is one of the seminal papers that showed that surgery can work for many patients who have a disc herniation in their back. Researchers at Dartmouth divided over 1,000 patients into two groups. One had a microdiscectomy and one had conservative non-operative care. The patients were then followed for eight years during which time they were asked to rate their pain and functional ability at least once a year. The surgery group fared much better then the patients who got only conservative therapies.