Our injury lawyers have handled literally hundreds of neck injury cases in Maryland. Our law firm does not typically accept soft tissue neck injury cases unless the injury is very severe and life altering. But we do handle spinal cord neck injuries. We define spinal cord injuries as those neck injuries involving a fracture or broken vertebrae or an injury to one of the spinal discs.Vertebrae Injuries
The spinal cord was built to withstand severe impact. You rarely see a clean vertebrae break in a car or truck accident and, when it does, you likely have a wrongful death case as opposed to a client with a spinal injury. More typically, our lawyers are dealing with a spinal cord injury that results in a fracture or dislocation of the vertebrae in the neck.
Typically, the injury puts pressure on the nerves that run along the spinal cord that send messages to the brain, causing myelopathy or damage to the nerve roots that send messages to the brain.
Approximately one-fourth of spinal cord injuries result from car, truck or motorcycle accidents. The most common spinal cord injury in motor vehicle accidents come from, in this order, (1) rear end accidents, (2) truck accidents, and (3) pedestrian accidents.What Is a Spinal Disc Case Worth By Settlement or Trial
Spinal cord injuries vary wildly in severity and jury verdicts vary accordingly. One study indicates that 16% of the verdicts in spinal disc injury lawsuits exceed $1 million and 7% exceed $2.5 million. But there are also a lot of spinal cord injury accident cases in between. The median jury verdict in a coccyx or sacrum fracture case is only $68,000. In cases with multiple vertebrae fractures, the median verdict is $207,129. The reality is that these figures, while interesting for lawyers, tell us little about individual spinal injury cases.Herniated Disc Injuries
Spinal discs are the cushions in between the vertebrae of the spinal column. These discs cushion the vertebrae. Undoubtedly, these discs degenerate over time. Spinal discs are filled with fluid and have an external shell. We explain disc injuries to the jury like this: discs are like jelly donuts. But when a disc is damaged, the donut may either bulge or break open. This is a herniated disc (also called a slipped or ruptured disc). So if a disc is damaged in a car accident, the fluid may leak which makes for a compromised cushion between the vertebrae. If the inner core of the disc spills out on a nerve root (nerves are running down the spine), it is going to cause pain - sometimes awful debilitating pain - that travels throughout the body.
The path of radiating pain depends on where the disc herniation occurs. When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, the pain is not in the disc area; rather, the disc herniation 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 nerve root pain, leg pain if the herniation is in the lumbar (back), or arm pain from a cervical (neck) herniated disc.
A vertebrae injury is often easy to diagnose. Herniated discs are more difficult. This is because the disc is invisible on an x-ray. Naturally, then, herniated discs are rarely diagnosed in the emergency room after an auto accident. Accordingly, patients almost invariably need a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm a herniated disc injury. A discography, myelography, or an electromyography are also used to diagnose herniated discs.What Is a Herniated Disc Case Worth by Settlement or at Trial?
Because our lawyers have successfully tried spinal cord 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 from a car or truck accident. The answer is, even more so than with spinal cord injuries that involve a fracture or dislocation, the value of herniated disc injuries depends on the injury. Some herniated disc injuries do not cause significant permanent damage. But many leave a patient in constant pain for the rest of their lives.Examples of Spinal Injury Verdicts and Settlements
Of course, herniated discs are just one type of spinal injury. Here are a few sample verdicts that underscore just how much the value spinal injury cases may vary:
- July 2014, Texas: $46,543 Verdict: After approaching a red light at the intersection of Bruton Road and Pleasant Drive, a woman was suddenly rear-ended. She sought treatment directly after the collision where she was diagnosed with spinal injuries and nerve damage as well as chest contusions, right shoulder and elbow sprains, a sprained left wrist and bulging discs. She was also treated for dizziness, post-traumatic headaches, and muscle spasms. She sued the driver for negligence, claiming he failed to keep a proper look out. Defendant driver denied all allegations. A Dallas jury found the Defendant negligent in his actions and awarded the Plaintiff $46,543.
- March 2013, Pennsylvania: $700,000 Verdict: A 31-year-old state trooper was stopped at a red light before the on-ramp for Exit 342 on I-76 when she was rear-ended by a driver operating a company van. She visited a local ER where she was advised to follow-up with her physician. She visited her family physician the following day complaining of pain in her lower back, headaches, neck stiffness and nausea. The physician prescribed her pain meds. She returned the next week with increased pain and numbness in her right hand and right large toe. X-ray and MRI results showed a mild disc bulge and lateral disc protrusion. She was referred to a neurologist who conducted an EMG that showed spinal nerve damage. She had a total of 49 physical therapy treatments, as well as a multitude of chiropractic and orthopedic care. She sued the driver and his employer for motor vehicle negligence. Plaintiff claimed that due to Defendant’s failure to maintain a proper look-out, she was unable to return to normal job activities and ultimately had to change her job from a state trooper to a casino security supervisor. Defendants did not deny liability but did argue the extent of Plaintiff’s injuries. A Philadelphia jury rendered a verdict for the Plaintiff of $700,000.
- September 2011, Connecticut: $41,134 Verdict: A 27-year-old man was stopped at an intersection in Fairfield County when he was rear-ended. Soon after the collision, he was diagnosed with soft tissue injuries to his back as well as spinal curvature and nerve damage. He sued the driver and the vehicle’s owner for negligence. Defendants denied liability, arguing the plaintiff turned to speak to his son in the rear seat and brought the vehicle to a sudden stop. Defendants also disputed the extent of plaintiff’s injuries. The matter continued to trial where a Fairfield jury found for the Plaintiff and awarded him $41,134.
- May 2011, New York: $2,871,666 Verdict: A 40-year-old man underwent a biopsy of a mass on a nerve of his brachial plexus. The tissue sample was sent to a pathologist who thought the tissue was a portion of a tumor and ordered the mass be removed. Directly after the removal, the man began to experience immense pain in his right arm. A follow-up revealed the mass was a benign growth and did not necessitate removal. He sustained severe nerve damage that required two surgeries to replace portions of the damaged nerve. He filed a medical malpractice suit against the neurosurgeons who conducted the removal of the mass, and the pathologist who ordered the mass be removed. Plaintiff claimed the removal of the mass resulted in permanent and severe nerve damage and he no longer has mobility in his right, dominant arm. The matter continued to trial where a Westchester jury found for the Plaintiff for $2,871,666.
- June 2010, Maryland: $4,947,837 Verdict: A physical therapist with a history of sacroiliac joint pain was visiting an osteopathic doctor for the first time after relocating to Maryland. After conducting a physical examination, the physician reported spinal alignment abnormalities and performed spinal palpations. However, when he reached her head he suddenly performed a high-velocity neck twist. This twist resulted in internal disc disruption and nerve damage. She sued the physician, claiming he failed to obtain her consent to perform the neck twist. Plaintiff contended the treatment was not appropriate for her condition, and due to the Defendant’s negligence she was unable to return to her job. A Montgomery County jury rendered a $4,947,837 verdict.
Our lawyers fight to get our clients who have suffered a severe spinal cord injury full compensation - either by settlement or a lawsuit. Our lawyers are based in Maryland, but we handle severe spinal cord injury claims throughout the country. Call us to discuss your case at 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.More Information
- Spinal Fluid Leak After Surgery Claims
- Paraplegia Average Verdicts
- Herniated Disc Information Page: get our thoughts after handling hundreds of these cases
- Value of Cervical Herniated Disc Cases: settlement and trial values
- Central Cord Syndrome Claims
- Cauda Equina Syndrome: common problem - a malpractice claim - after spinal surgery
- Spinal Surgery Malpractice: doctors often make mistakes when performing spinal surgery -- here is an example case and here is a case where a spinal fracture was misdiagnosed
- Contact a Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer at 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation anywhere in the United States