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Back Injury Car Accident Settlement Guide

Back Injury Car Accident Settlements

A car accident back injury can devastate your life. They can cause you a lot of pain. Back injuries can be very expensive to treat. Unfortunately, back injuries are fairly common injuries in car accidents. Auto accidents cause around 35% of back injuries each year, according to the Mayo Clinic. And with that many accidents and injuries, many people are left to wonder about their back injury car accident settlement.

A back injury caused by a car accident can have lasting effects on your life. You may experience ongoing pain. You may be faced with mounting medical debt. Perhaps you missed work due to your injuries and lost income. This is why getting fair compensation for your car accident injuries is so important.

This page highlights the factors determining the amount of a back injury car accident settlement, sample verdicts and settlements for back injuries in auto accidents, and other critical information you need to know about these cases. 

What Are Common Car Accident Back Injuries?

Your spine has a hard job to do each and every day. It is a complex design and is actually quite fragile in certain circumstances. A critical car crash may lead to severe back trauma, back pain, and spinal injuries. These are some common back injuries that can result from car accidents:

Soft Tissue Injuries

When you experience forceful movements or are struck or crushed by an object such as a car, soft tissue damage is common. This means that the tendons and ligaments in your body, in this case we’re looking specifically around the spine, can stretch beyond their usual limits or tear. Soft tissue damage may present as mild pain, or it can be severe.

Bulging or Herniated Discs

The human spine has 23 discs. These cushiony discs separate each of your vertebra and allow your spine to move with flexibility. A forceful collision while driving in your car has the potential to damage or traumatize one or more of these intervertebral discs. As a result, you may have a bulging or herniated disc after a car accident. When your spinal discs are out of place, they can press on your spinal cord and cause immense pain.

Compression Fractures In the Back

A compression fracture can occur when the vertebrae of your spine are forced together, causing one or more bones in the back to crack or break. The pain from this type of fracture is often severe. Pain and numbness from the injury may be felt in the arms or legs, as the spinal cord or nerves may be pinched. Surgery may be necessary to treat a spinal fracture, but often times a back brace must be worn while the injury heals.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A spinal cord injury is often very serious and can have detrimental impacts on a person’s life. All spinal cord injuries require medical attention and some end up with permanent damage. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that runs up and down your back, carrying electrical signals between your brain and other parts of your body. A spinal cord injury typically occurs when one or more vertebrae are broken or shifted out of place.

A severe spinal cord injury may lead to paralysis, either partial or total. If the spinal cord is completely damaged or severed, it means that the brain can no longer send signals to the lower parts of the body. Spinal cord injuries tend to have other complications as well, as it is such serious trauma. Studies show that over a lifetime, a spinal cord injury that leads to total paralysis can cost up to $5,000,000 in medical care and living expenses.

Lower Back Injuries And Sciatica: 

The force of an auto accident can cause serious injuries to the lower back. Car accidents can also cause sciatica, which can present itself as a car accident leg injury rather than a lower back injury. This is one of the reasons it’s important to see a medical professional following your car accident to make sure you have a clear picture of the full scope of your car accident injuries before starting to negotiate a settlement. 

Car Accident Settlement

Back Injury Car Accident Settlement Amounts

If you are in a car accident that leads to a back injury, you should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer. An attorney can help you get an idea of how much your claim may be worth and what steps you should take to receive compensation. Back injuries are something that should not be ignored. And because they can have such an impact on your daily life, you should get fair compensation from the at fault driver who caused you the pain. With a back injury, you may be looking at a higher car accident settlement than some other injuries may bring.

While calculating a car accident back injury settlement amount is not an exact science, your car accident attorney will help you calculate your damages, including your pain and suffering, can give you an idea of how much you may receive.

Factors That Affect Your Car Accident Back Injury Settlement Amount

As with any car accident injury, there are various factors that can affect how much your claim may be worth.

Type of Back Injury Suffered in the Car Accident

The kind of injury that you suffered from and how severe it is will be a huge factor influencing your back injury settlement after a car accident. A minor back injury case may get you a couple tens of thousands of dollars. A more serious condition may be worth millions.

There are a few of the injuries that you may suffer from:

  • Whiplash
  • Pinched or compressed nerves
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Sprained or torn soft tissue
  • Herniated or bulging discs

Ongoing Medical Care

When you suffer a back injury in a car accident, you will likely seek medical care. But, if your injury is serious, one visit to the doctor may not be enough. Major injuries could require specialists, surgeons, physical and occupational therapists. A serious back injury is very likely to necessitate ongoing medical care. It goes without saying that extensive medical care results in extensive medical bills.

Some of the ongoing medical care that you may have include:

  • Surgeries
  • Scans and x-rays
  • Braces
  • Physical therapy to regain movement and strength
  • Occupational therapy to relearn how to do daily tasks
  • Pain medication
  • Pain management techniques
  • Steroids or therapy to lessen swelling
  • Home health care
  • Mobility aids such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs

Keep track of all medical expenses, include things you buy over the counter to heal from or cope with your back injury. Get documentation from your doctors with their prognoses and plan of care for the future.

How Much Insurance Coverage Is Available For a Back Injury Settlement?

When you are in a car accident, you need to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the driver who hit you was working at the time, you may be able to file a claim against their employer. A car accident lawyer will know the best course of action in pursuing a back injury car accident settlement.

Back injury settlements after car accidents can be worth a lot of money. They can cost a lot of money to treat and heal from. And most drivers do not carry insurance policies that can cover a large back injury settlement. If you are unable to get a fair amount from the negligent driver, you may have to rely on your own PIP (personal injury protection), or under/uninsured coverage.

Time Away From Work

Healing from a back injury can take time and that may mean that you are unable to go to work. Missing work means lost earnings. Any money that you lost due to not being able to work after a car accident should factor into your settlement amount. In some cases, back injuries may prevent you from ever returning to your job, depending on the injury and your line of work.

Strength of Your Case

Liability is a huge factor when it comes to determining how much money you can be compensated. If the other driver is completely at fault, then your case is likely a strong one. However, if you share fault for the accident, things can get complicated. If the other driver blames you for the accident, regardless of the injuries suffered, you may be looking at little to no compensation.

Statute of Limitations

Each state has its own standards regarding statute of limitations in car accident claims. These laws give you a specific window of time in which you must file an insurance claim and/or file a lawsuit. On average you have around 3 years to file, but it is wise to know what your state’s laws are. Speak to a lawyer to know when is the right time to seek compensation.

Back Injury Settlement Calculator

If you have been in a car crash that resulted in back pain or a back injury, you might be wondering what your claim is really worth. Talking to a lawyer is the best way to get an accurate number. But if you are wanting an idea sooner, you can use our free online Car Accident Settlement Calculator.

Car Accident Settlement

Actual Car

Average Car Accident Back Injury Settlement

So how much is the average settlement for a back injury after a car accident? It is hard to really pin down the average settlement amount, as there are so many factors involved. Most back injury claims will settle for thousands of dollars – depending on where you look, the average settlement amount for a back injury after a car accident is in the $15,000-$25,000 range, but it’s important to remember that with any average settlement there will be high outliers that affect the number.

A few multi-million dollar back injury settlements, usually involving paralysis or some other type of life altering, permanent injury, will skew the average settlement amount by quite a bit, so the real number for “most” average car accident back injury settlements is probably on the lower end of that range.

Actual Back Injury Car Accident Settlement Amounts

Below are a few examples of real back injury car accident settlements.

$25,000 Back Pain Settlement: The plaintiff’s was stopped at an intersection, and was rear ended by a distracted driver. Not feeling an immediate pain, he did not seek medical attention at first. However, two days later he went to his doctor because of back pain. He ended up with soft tissue injuries, specifically strained tendons and a torn ligament. Surgery was not required, but he did miss several days of work.

$800,000 Back Injury Settlement: A car failed to stop at a crosswalk and struck a pedestrian. The pedestrian, a 52 year old woman, fractured her fibula and suffered a compression fracture to two vertebrae. She was hospitalized for over a week and required surgery on her leg, as well as physical therapy. The negligent driver was found completely at fault when claim negotiations failed and a lawsuit was taken to court.

$12,000 Back Pain Settlement: A man was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear ended by a package delivery truck. He suffered a slipped disc and filed a claim with the company the driver worked for. The insurance company argued that the injury was minor and recovery was quick. The settlement covered medical expenses and included a small amount for pain and suffering.

$1.85 Million Back Injury Settlement: A motorcycle driver was struck by a truck driver and suffered back injuries that required multiple surgeries. The driver also sustained a broken arm and a concussion. The multiple surgeries resulted in a higher settlement amount.

$203,000 Back Injury Settlement: A driver fell asleep at the wheel and struck an SUV with a family of four inside. Luckily, most of the family members only suffered minor injuries, but the father, who was driving, suffered whiplash, soft tissue injuries, and a minor compression fracture. Fortunately the father healed quickly and had no lasting effects of his injuries.

$48,000 Back Injury Settlement: After pulling into an intersection, a woman was struck on the side of her vehicle. She was hospitalized with pinched nerves and a minor spinal cord injury. Her spinal cord injury did not result in any paralysis or loss of feeling but her recovery was long. However, the woman was found partially liable for the accident. Her settlement was reduced accordingly.

Example of an Actual Car Accident Settlement Story Involving a Back Injury:

Auto Accident Facts

On January 3, 2021 at approximately 10:00 a.m. I was driving my 2018 Mini Cooper and approaching the intersection at Preston Rd & Wentwood Drive in Dallas, TX when suddenly and without notice I was T-boned by a large ford F150 who ran the red light at the intersection, causing my injuries and damages. The truck hit me on the rear drivers side of my vehicle which caused my car to do a complete 360 spin prior to coming to rest in the roadway. During the impact, the airbags deployed throughout my vehicle.


Back Injuries Suffered in the Car Accident

I was completely unprepared for the impact and my car was not drivable after I was hit. I I exited my vehicle and walked to the sidewalk to call the police. I had the immediate onset of low and mid back pain and discomfort. The police and paramedics arrived on scene, and while being examined by EMS, the police took my statement. Shortly after, the police officer told me that the other driver admitted to running the red light and he was issued a citation. The paramedics advised that I should be transported to the emergency room to get checked out due to my low/mid back pain and discomfort. At first, I was apprehensive to go to the emergency room, but I knew that I should be checked out because of my pain.


Upon arrival to the emergency room, I had sharp low back pain. My mid back was also aching and the pain was radiating to my right leg. I was examined by the doctors and there was tenderness to palpation of my lumbar (low back) and thoracic (mid back) spine. They took X-rays of my lumbar and thoracic spine which were negative for fracture and dislocation. I was prescribed Norco for my pain and discharged home later that afternoon with instructions to follow up with my primary care physician in 1-2 days.


The following day, I woke up with progressively worsening pain and discomfort in my mid and low back. I called my primary care physician to make an appointment. Luckily, he had an appointment available that day so I went to his office for treatment. He examined me and reviewed my medical records and X-rays from the emergency room. He recommended that I begin a course of chiropractic therapy to treat my pain and provided me with a referral.


Two days later, I presented to Moonlight Chiropractic in Dallas Texas for treatment of my injuries. The chiropractor examined me and my range of motion in my low and mid back was reduced by 50%. I was struggling to complete my activities of daily living such as cleaning, yard work, cooking, and exercising. The chiropractor recommended that I continue treatment with him 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks.


I continued returning for treatment, however my low and mid back pain continued to worsen in the weeks after the car accident. As a result, the chiropractor prescribed me with an MRI of of my lumbar and thoracic spine to better assess the structural damage done to my spine in the crash.


One week later, I presented to Downtown MRI for the recommended lumbar and thoracic MRI.


The impressions revealed the following back injuries I suffered as a direct result of the auto accident:


Lumbar MRI:

L2-3:       2 mm protrusion with central annular tear. Disc material indents the thecal sac. No neural foraminal stenosis seen.

L3-4:       2.5 mm protrusion identified with mild bilateral neural foraminal narrow

L4-5:       2.2 mm protrusion. Associated mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. Concurrent mild bilateral recess stenosis..

L5-S1:     2.4 mm protrusion identified. There is associated mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.

There is abutment on the bilateral exiting nerve root. Annular fissure (tear) identified.


Thoracic MRI:

T1-2:       1 mm protrusion with bilateral neural foramina narrowing.

T2-3:       3.5 mm protrusion with disc material indenting the thecae sac. Mild to moderate stenosis.

T3-4:       Degenerative disc changes with small 1.2 mm protrusion indenting the thecal sac.

T4-5:       1 mm left paracentral disc bulge slightly effacing the thecal sac & encroaching the left neuroforamen. No stenosis.

T5-6:       Normal disc space height and no protrusion

T6-7:       Normal disc space height with no protrusion or stenosis

T8-9:       3 mm protrusion indenting the thecae sac with nerve root impingement and stenosis.

T10-12:   3.5 mm protrusion with bilateral neural foraminal stenosis.


After getting my MRI’s, I returned to the Chiropractor for treatment. Due to the positive findings on my thoracic and lumbar MRI, the chiropractor referred me to a pain management specialist. He advised that the pain management physician would review the results with me and make some treatment recommendations.


Three days later, I presented to Dr. Baum, M.D., a pain management specialist for treatment of my injuries. My chiropractor forwarded the results of my MRI’s to him so he was able to review the results with me. Dr. Baum advised that I had sustained some significant injuries to my mid and low back. The most significant findings on my MRI’s were nerve root impingement in the mid and low back. The nerve root impingement was causing my pain to radiate to my right leg which was constant throughout the day and preventing me from getting a full nights rest. Additionally, my mid and low back pain precluded me from performing my activities of daily living at my prior level of function. Even the simplest of tasks such as bending down to pick something up from the floor caused significant pain. My symptoms were increased by twisting, turning, and extending/flexing my back. I was worried that my pain was not subsiding. Dr. Baum diagnosed me with lumbar and thoracic radiculopathy which is essentially radiating pain from my mid and low back. As a result of my diagnosis, he advised that I was a candidate for a lumbar and thoracic epidural injection. The cost of each injection was approximately $15,000.


At this point, I was not worried about the cost of the injections as the at fault drivers insurance company disclosed to me that the other driver carried policy limits of $100,000, so I knew that if I needed the injections I should move forward with them. After discussing the risks and benefits of the procedure with Dr. Baum, I decided to move forward with the injections.


One week later, I presented to Dr. Baums outpatient surgery center in Irving, Texas for the recommended thoracic and lumbar epidural injections. The procedure was fast and easy and provided me with some much-needed pain relief. Unfortunately, 10 days later my pain and symptoms returned.


I presented to Dr. Baum, M.D. for a follow up visit and still had low and mid back pain. I continued to struggle with completing my activities of daily living without pain and still had a reduced range of motion in my mid and low back. At this point, Dr. Baum recommended that I begin physical therapy 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks to help regain my active range of motion and increase strength. Dr. Baum asked me to return for a follow up visit after completing physical therapy.


On March 15, 2021 I presented to Mesquite Physical Therapy for treatment of my injuries. The goal of physical therapy was to increase strength and my active range of motion. I continued treatment here over the course of 6 weeks prior to being discharged with symptoms. Physical therapy was extremely helpful and I began experiencing significant pain relief within the first two weeks of treatment.


Upon completion of physical therapy, I presented to Dr. Baum, M.D. for a follow-up visit. My mid and low back pain had significantly decreased, however I continued to experience occasional flare-ups of pain to the injured areas. Dr. Baum recommended that I undergo repeat thoracic and lumbar epidural injections for pain management. I declined to move forward with the injections, but knew that I could include the costs for the recommended future epidural injections in my demand letter to the insurance company. At this time, Dr. Baum discharged me from care with symptoms.


Negotiation & Settlement


Since I was nearly at my pre-accident state of health, I decided to request my medical records and bills from all treating medical providers. I added up the total cost of my medical bills which totaled $45,000.


I prepared a demand letter to the insurance company and included photos from the scene of the crash along with my complete medical records and billing. I described the facts of the accident and made sure to be very clear that I suffered tremendously while recovering from my injuries. I sustained significant injuries to my low and mid back and would likely be dealing with residual pain from my injuries for the foreseeable future. I also included the cost of the recommended future injections because I knew that I would require them if I had a significant flare up of pain. With my current medical bills totaling $45,000, and the future thoracic and lumbar epidural injections at a cost of $15,000 each, I made a demand to the at fault drivers insurance company for the full $100,000 policy limits.


One day before my demand expired, the insurance adjuster called me and made an initial settlement offer of $65,000. I thought the offer was not bad, but knew that I deserved more. I decided to come down from my demand of $100,000 and provide a counter to settle my case for $85,000 in exchange for a full and final release. The insurance adjuster called me 3 days later and advised that they were accepting my offer. The adjuster sent me a settlement release to sign, which I returned the same day. The adjuster contacted me after receiving the release and advised that payment was issued and that I should be expecting a check with 5-7 business days.

Will Surgery Increase My Back Injury Car Accident Settlement?

It is possible that surgery will increase the amount of your back injury settlement. A required surgery tends to indicate higher amounts of pain and suffering for the injured person. There are also higher medical costs associated with surgery, lost wages, and potential effects on daily living. But there is no real figure to offer up as the average payout for a back injury, so it really is a case by case basis.

Remember that there are other factors that influence your settlement, whether it is a lower back pain car accident settlement, a pinched nerve car accident settlement, a herniated disc injury settlement, etc. Generally speaking, a back injury settlement without surgery will bring in less compensation, but the only way to get a good idea of your claims worth is to speak with an attorney.

Car Accident Settlement

What Will Decrease The Value Of My Car Accident Back Injury Settlement?

There are ways in which you can harm your own case. First and foremost, your liability for the accident will have a major impact on the amount of money you can expect. Different states have different laws regarding fault and how your fault affects your ability to collect compensation. In some states, such as Virginia, you will not get a settlement at all if you were found even slightly responsible for the crash.

A lawyer will advise you on things that you should and shouldn’t do after an accident and during the claim or lawsuit process. For example, follow all orders made by your doctor. Not listening to medical advice does not look good and indicates that you do not take your recovery seriously. Once your treatment has concluded, your lawyer will collect your medical records and bills and will then send a settlement demand to the at-fault drivers insurance company. Once the insurance company has reviewed the demand, they will make an offer on your case. Always remember that back injuries are serious and can cause life-long injuries and damages to the spine and other areas of the body.

Anything that the insurance company can use against you will be brought up in an attempt to lower the amount they have to pay you.

How Much Should I Settle for a Back Injury?

Back injuries are one of the most common symptoms that individuals experience immediately following an auto accident. Back injuries can vary from minor to severe in nature, and will be different for each individual. If you have been involved in an auto accident and are suffering from back pain, stiffness, tightness, numbness, or tingling, then you should seek medical attention immediately. When your body suffers from the force and intensity associated with the impact experienced after you’ve been struck by another vehicle on the road, your spine will most certainly suffer a whiplash, or whiplash type injury. When this occurs, your back pain will set in and you will be suffering from the effects of an injured spine.
After you have been injured in a car accident it is imperative to retain an experienced personal injury attorney. They can open up a claim with the other drivers insurance and get you on the road to recovery from your injuries. Eventually, you may receive monetary compensation for the bodily injuries you sustained in the crash. Back injuries are serious, and can leave you with long term symptoms and pain. Because of the seriousness associated with a back injury, your car accident settlement will be higher than someone who did not injure their back. Since back pain and discomfort are generally associated with injuries to the spine, insurance companies will almost always settle your back injury car accident case for top dollar.

Getting Legal Help for Your Back Pain Injury Settlements

Your lawyer will handle your entire car accident case. They will make sure that your medical bills are paid, and that you receive the best care and treatment possible for your back injury.

It is important to talk to an attorney after you have suffered a back injury from a car accident. He or she can help you determine what your case is really worth, regardless of how serious the injury is. Call 877-810-4067 for more information.

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