Average Settlement For Herniated Disc Car Accident

Average Settlement For Herniated Disc Car Accident

average settlement for herniated disc car accident

Unfortunately, car accidents lead to numerous painful and serious injuries every day, and herniated disc cases can occur during an auto accident.

Herniated or bulging discs are exceedingly common after vehicular collisions— even if the accident occurred at a low speed, like in a parking lot. Herniated disc injuries occur when the force of impact applies excess pressure on the spine, causing significant damage. 

The severity of these injuries varies from case to case, and while less severe herniated disc injuries only require over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy, more severe cases may require costly surgeries and rehabilitation. 

Suppose you experience one of these injuries thanks to a negligent driver. In that case, you need to seek a herniated disc car accident settlement for your medical bills, not to mention missed work time and pain and suffering. This is especially important if you suffer from a serious herniated disc injury that could cause permanent nerve damage or even paralysis.  

Here’s what you need to know about having a herniated disc injury from a car accident and recovering the compensation you deserve. 

What Is a Herniated Disc Injury?

herniated disc

Before we dive into the details of herniated disc injuries, you should probably understand the spine’s anatomy.

You’re likely aware that your spinal cord consists of individual vertebrae. People are born with 33 individual vertebrae, but adults often only have 26 because vertebrae fuse over time.

There are different sections of your vertebrae, including the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar, sacral spine, and coccyx (tailbone), and each section contains individually numbered vertebrae.

These include:

  • Cervical spine: C1-C7
  • Thoracic spine: T1-T12
  • Lumbar spine: L1-L5
  • Sacral spine: S1-S5
  • Coccyx: Co1-Co5

Spinal discs between every pair of vertebrae keep the spine together while absorbing shock and helping spinal mobility. Each spinal disc has spongy centers, or nuclei, and a tougher outer shell, known as the disc annulus. (If you’re having trouble imagining what these look like, picture a jelly doughnut.

The disc annulus protects the soft, squishy nucleus from the bony segments of the spine’s vertebrae.  

A herniated disc occurs when the tough outer casing of the disc annulus breaks, allowing the soft tissue of the nucleus to come out. This causes severe pain because it compresses the nerves against the spinal cord. 

In addition to causing you to suffer pain, disc herniation can cause tingling, numbness, and inflammation, making movement challenging.

This pain isn’t necessarily felt in the back; it happens in the areas of the body whose nerves are connected to the part of the spine connected to the location of the disc herniation.

Often, people say that they feel shooting pain with a herniated disc. If you experience leg pain, the bulging disc is in the lumbar spine, specifically in discs L1-L5. Shoulder pain, arm pain, and neck pain result from discs C5-C7. Herniated cervical disc issues can also include muscle spasms.

The area of the spine that’s most likely to receive a herniated disc after a car accident is the cervical spine, which is in your neck. The most commonly injured discs are between the C4-C5 and C5-C6. 

Lumbar disk herniation can also cause spinal stenosis. This occurs when the lower part of the spinal canal is narrowed; this is typically a degenerative disc disease caused by aging, but it can also occur when you get a herniated disc from a car accident.

How Can a Motor Vehicle Accident Cause a Herniated Disc?

Serious (and even not-so-serious) car accidents cause a lot of pain. Whether it’s whiplash from the force of the impact or broken ribs from the airbag deploying, there are many different ways to be injured in a car accident.

herniated discs

Herniated discs can happen in any accident, but head-on collisions and side-swipes most frequently cause herniated disc claims.

These accidents force the spinal column forward against the spinal canal’s interior wall, which results in torn discs and damaged vertebrae. When the accident occurs at a high speed, the damage can be significant, whether it’s a disc bulge or a disc herniation.

A personal injury attorney can help you deal with the insurance company and ensure that you get the best herniated disc settlement amount possible.

Should the herniated disc case need to go to court, a personal injury lawyer will be by your side, fighting with you to get the pain and suffering damages you deserve and get your medical expenses fully covered as well.

A car accident lawyer handles car accident cases every day; they can guide you through new and unfamiliar terrain as you navigate your insurance company’s rules and the court system.

Herniated Disc Symptoms and Diagnosis

Disc herniations often have notable symptoms, but this is not always true. Someone may suffer from herniated discs while having no tell-tale signs of pain and discomfort.

That’s why it’s important to visit a doctor after experiencing a car accident — you may not even have symptoms of a serious injury until days, weeks, or even months after the accident.

Those who do suffer from symptoms after a herniated disc may experience:

  • Pain that radiates throughout the body
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Incontinence
  • Numbness in the impacted area

If you suspect that you’ve suffered from a disc herniation, you need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Don’t hesitate to go immediately to the emergency room to undergo testing immediately after your car accident.

Even if you’re fearful of the cost or the time testing could take, testing is key if you hope to win any kind of herniated disc settlement. It could save your mobility or even your life, not to mention the financial devastation that comes after a car accident.

When a herniated disc goes untreated, a person may suffer from extremity numbness and may even eventually develop paralysis. 

Herniated Disc Testing

Please insist that your medical care includes testing.

This can include:

MRI— The primary way medical professionals identify whether a person suffers from a herniated disc, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a valuable testing tool. Digital magnetic fields produce a highly detailed image of the inside of the body.

X-ray— X-ray creates images of the insides of your body using a type of radiation known as electromagnetic waves. X-rays can’t always spot disc herniation, but some physicians use these before resorting to more expensive medical testing.

CT scan— A CT (computerized tomography) scan combines x-ray images taken from multiple angles to create cross-sectional images of your body. This encompasses bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues. It’s frequently used to diagnose trauma related to car accidents.

Nerve conduction study (NCS) — This test measures the speed with which electrical impulses move through the nerves to identify nerve damage. This isn’t usually the first test to be done; NCS tests are deployed after there have been weeks, if not months, of tingling and numbness after a car accident.

Test results won’t just diagnose your bulging disc or herniated disc, they can also be used as evidence when filing a herniated disc car accident claim. Be sure that your attorney has access to the testing you undergo after your car accident. Your herniated disc settlement could depend on it!

Treatment for Herniated Disc Injuries

average settlement for herniated disc car accident

Treatment for herniated discs can vary widely. Many people think that a herniated disc means surgery, but that’s not always the case.

People suffering from disc herniations should take it easy for a few days. Walking is fine, and pain can be treated with an anti-inflammatory.

Physical therapy might be recommended if some improvement isn’t seen after a while; this includes massage, ice or heat therapy, pelvic traction, and stretching.

Steroid injections also offer some pain relief for people with a ruptured disc, bulging disc, or herniated disc. They won’t reduce the swelling or eliminate the herniation, but they will help alleviate some of the pain.

Surgical Recommendations

If the pain persists without improvement after the more conservative treatments, surgery could be recommended.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, some of the reasons a patient might be eligible for surgery include:

  • Pain and suffering are impairing their normal activity, lowering their quality of life
  • Neurological deficits have developed, including leg numbness or weakness
  • Normal bladder and bowel functions are disrupted
  • The patient finds it difficult to stand or walk
  • The patient is otherwise healthy and can withstand the rigors of surgery.

Herniated disc injury cases that meet these criteria could require surgery.

Experienced car accident lawyers can help ensure your settlement value is sufficient to cover the costs related to surgery, as well as any future medical expenses that could arise if this becomes a permanent injury with debilitating pain.

Types of Surgery for a Herniated Disc Injury

There are two common types of surgical intervention for disc herniations:

Lumbar laminotomy— this helps relieve leg pain and suffering due to herniated discs in the lumbar region. This procedure removes a portion of the lamina, or the protective covering of the spinal canal. Then, the surgeon removes the herniated disc; a spinal fusion could follow this if the spine needs to be stabilized.

Cervical spine surgery— For people suffering from a herniated disc in the cervical spine, this surgery relieves pain by removing parts of the lamina followed by the removal of the herniated disc.

Most patients won’t require a spinal fusion for cervical spine surgery, but if it’s necessary, it is a rigorous surgery that requires an extensive recovery period.

Unfortunately, if surgery is required, it comes with many risks and the potential for complications. In a study of nearly 35,000 people who underwent surgery for a herniated disc injury, almost 1,000 endured surgical complications, and almost 900 had to undergo additional surgeries after the initial surgery.

An additional 900 people were readmitted to the hospital in 3 months or less suffering from additional complications post-surgery, with almost 2500 suffering other issues related to their surgery.

Even surgery doesn’t guarantee that your life will be the same after a disc herniation due to a car accident.

What if the Disc Injury was Pre-Existing?

If you have a pre-existing disc injury before you’re involved in a car accident, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be filing a herniated disc injury claim.

Herniated discs are very common, particularly among people who are over the age of 30. Discs in our spine and back are less flexible over time and subject to wear and tear.

There are two different types of pre-existing disc herniation, which we’ll examine below.

Symptomatic Disc Herniation

If you’ve received treatment for a herniated disc injury in the past, you’ll have to provide your medical records as well as testimony from your physician about the nature of your symptoms as well as the treatment of the disc herniation.

It’s possible that the accident exacerbated your existing herniated disc injury, so you should be entitled to a herniated disc settlement. Don’t be afraid to make the claim so you can get the settlement to which you might be entitled.

Asymptomatic Disc Herniation

If your herniated disc didn’t cause you pain until your accident, your doctor can attest to that fact. Your herniated disc settlement is likely to be higher if it can be proven that your accident triggered pain and suffering that wasn’t there before the accident.

Again, don’t let the fact that this condition was preexisting keep you from seeking the settlement you deserve. A good attorney can help you fight for your rights.

Can Herniated Disc Injuries Be Permanent Injuries?

In a word, yes.

Unless there’s surgical intervention, disc herniations, bulging discs, and other disc injuries are permanent. The disc will never return to its normal anatomical state.

Even with surgical intervention, your spine won’t be as it was before; it’s likely to require fusion to ensure it’s strong enough for day-to-day activities.

Disc surgeries come with their own set of complications, and they can cause issues beyond the initial complaint. Some surgeries might even be fatal, even though the surgery is relatively uncomplicated. This is rare, but it’s possible any time you undergo surgery.

In extreme cases, a herniated disc injury can even result in paralysis. This is a rare occurrence, but it’s a possibility. You could be unable to move as you did before your accident, further impacting your day-to-day life and prospects for work in the future.

This is one of the many reasons why it’s important to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney. They can ensure you’ll be able to pay the medical bills that inevitably occur with a herniated disc case, from physical therapy to medications to surgery.

You’ll also likely miss work due to your herniation, which results in lost wages. You may be unable to cover your living expenses, and it could take a long time to recover financially from your accident.

If the case involves multiple herniated discs, you’re more likely to receive a higher herniated disc injury settlement. A lawyer can help you understand what you might expect if you choose to file a claim after your car accident.

Herniated Disc Settlements in Maryland

Suppose you suffered from a herniated disc or another personal injury as a direct result of another driver’s negligence.

If that’s the case, you have every right to file a personal injury claim against them. You might be entitled to a herniated disc settlement, depending on the level of injury and if you have any responsibility for the accident.

In the United States, the average settlement for a herniated disc in a car accident is about $360,000, but the median is only $80,000.

The wide disparity between the average and the median amounts indicates that although some settlements result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in damages, most herniated disc settlements are far less. 

The average settlement value for herniated discs caused by car accidents depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The severity of your injuries, and if you had herniations in multiple discs
  • Permanent disabilities you may suffer as a result of the accident and whether it will impact your ability to work in the future, as well as the impact on your quality of life going forward
  • Your level of fault (in Maryland, any fault at all means that you’re ineligible to receive a settlement)
  • The available insurance coverage

Only about 10% of herniated disc cases require surgery. The average settlement value for herniated disc cases caused by auto accidents increases if surgery is required. The car accident settlement also gets higher if the injuries are deemed permanent.

You hope to get the herniated disc settlement to which you’re entitled. In that case, it’s critical to note that you need to be able to provide sufficient evidence showing that the other driver was the at-fault driver and that the accident directly caused your herniated disc injury.

What Forms of Evidence Can You Use?

Eyewitness testimonies

Get as much information from the people who saw your accident happen. If you’re unable to do it yourself, your attorney could assist you with this.

Video or photographic evidence

Fortunately, most of us carry smartphones equipped with a camera. Make sure that you or a loved one take photos or videos at the scene of the accident. Any information can help determine the at-fault driver.

Police reports

When any car accident occurs, the first call should be to the police. A police report is a vital piece of evidence that can help prove to the insurance company or the court that your severe injuries and chronic pain were caused by the accident.

Accident reconstruction experts 

An expert capable of recreating the accident is very helpful for people filing herniated disc injury claims; it provides insight into the responsible party, ensuring that you get the maximum settlement value possible to help pay for medical treatment.

Cell phone records or credit card transactions

A personal injury attorney can get access to the other driver’s cell phone records and credit card transactions.

These may indicate the other driver was driving while distracted or intoxicated, which could impact the settlement value for your herniated disc claim.

Medicals bills

Herniated disc injury cases have a lot of medical bills; an insurance company or court will use these to determine if you have serious injuries like neck pain, spinal cord injuries, herniated discs, or a bulging disc.


Any testing, including MRIs, is submitted as evidence to the insurance company or the court to determine the extent of the disc herniation or the bulging disc in question. Your herniated disc injury settlement might hinge on the MRI results.

It’s also important to note that an MRI is just one medical expense you accrue after disc herniation due to a car accident; physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery could also contribute to your medical expenses.

Doctor’s notes

Your doctor’s notes will tell the insurance company or the court about the chronic pain you suffer due to the disc herniation.

They can outline the treatments you’ve undergone, including physical therapy, surgical intervention, steroid injections, and anything else they recommend to alleviate your pain and suffering after your disc herniation.

Medical experts

Any medical expert who can corroborate you suffered from the injury due to the car accident should be contacted to help your case. Medical experts are routinely tapped to help determine that the plaintiff suffered after a car accident, and the plaintiff should be awarded for lost wages as well as pain and suffering.

Disc herniation cases due to car accidents are no exception; a medical expert can help increase the settlement value if the plaintiff suffered after the accident.

Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Laws

It’s crucial to provide evidence that the other driver was exclusively at fault for your herniated disc claim because Maryland is one of only five states that uses a contributory negligence system.

This means that if you had any role in causing the accident, you cannot recover compensation for your personal injuries from the other driver, even if your role was negligible compared to the other party. 

Even if you’re considered just 1% responsible for the accident, you are barred from receiving a car accident settlement. Of course, this is devastating for someone who’s accrued high medical expenses, for treatment like physical therapy, steroid injections, and even surgery.

Suppose you hope to get even the minimal settlement value for your herniated disc case, a bulging disc, or any other spinal cord injury due to an auto accident. In that case, you must prove that the other driver was 100% responsible for the auto accident.

The best way to ensure that your herniated disc settlement is as high as possible is to hire an experienced car accident attorney with a deep understanding of Maryland’s laws. Good lawyers have experience getting herniated disc settlements for their clients all the time; find the attorney who will fight for you.

Suffered Herniated Discs from an Auto Accident? Contact a Maryland Car Accident Attorney

To recover compensation for a herniated disc, you need to provide sufficient evidence that the other driver is liable for your injury. You can increase your chances of settling or winning your case by enlisting the help of a Maryland car crash attorney.

A skilled attorney will help you prove your claim by subpoenaing evidence, such as cell phone records and credit card transactions, and they can gather expert witnesses, such as medical experts and accident reconstruction experts, to prove your case. A seasoned attorney will also help you maximize the amount you receive for your herniated disc injury.

For legal support in Maryland, contact the attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling Law. We’ll work to help you recover the compensation you deserve including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and more.

Call our office at 410-753-4611, or get a free case consultation here