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Back Injury Car Accident Settlements

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A car accident back injury can devastate your life. They are painful and expensive to treat. These injuries are more common than many people realize. Car accidents cause 35% of back injuries, according to the Mayo Clinic

Car accident back pain can haunt you for years. That’s why a back injury accident settlement must cover ongoing medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, physical therapy, and more. 

This page highlights the factors determining the size of a lower back pain car accident settlement, sample verdicts and settlements, and other critical information you need to know about these cases. 

What Are The Most Frequent Car Accident Back Injuries?

The back and spine are delicate and complex. A violent car accident may traumatize your back and lead to spinal injuries or lower back pain. The most common back injuries in car accidents are: 

Bulging or Herniated Discs

The human spine has 23 discs. These discs are cushions that separate each vertebra and cover the spinal cord. Violent collisions in a car crash may damage one or more spinal discs, causing a bulge or herniation. Bulging disc injuries and herniated disc injuries press on the spinal cord and transmit intense pain to the legs and lower back. 

Compression Fractures

Compression fractures occur in the lower and middle back (the lumbar and thoracic spine). These happen because the upper part of the body is thrown forward and the seat belt restricts the lower body. Vertebrae pull apart and may cause fractures. 

Compression fractures cause major back pain that worsens as you move. 


A stress fracture jerks a vertebrae out of position. This bone displacement presses on nerves. Spondylolisthesis symptoms are weakness, pain, or numbness in your legs. 

But symptoms may not appear for weeks or months after an accident. See a doctor immediately after the crash to check you for injuries. Early diagnosis can increase the size of your back injury settlement. 

Soft Tissue Injuries

Tendons and ligaments around the spine may stretch and tear in a car crash. You may suffer nerve damage, too. 

Soft tissue damage symptoms include mild to severe back pain. 

Spinal Cord Injuries

Back Injury Car Accident SettlementThe most serious auto accident back injury is spinal cord damage. These injuries can range from cord bruising or pressure to permanent damage. 

Severe spinal cord damage can cause partial or total paralysis. Or the injury victim may have a loss of sensation in parts of the body or loss of reflex functions. Spinal cord injury victims may have many complications, including infection, blood clots, bleeding, and pneumonia. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports the average lifetime cost of a spinal cord injury to be $5 million for a victim who is 25-years-old. The average first-year cost for a quadriplegic is $1.5 million.

Back and Neck Injury Car Accident Settlement Amounts

After you have been injured in a back injury car accident it is imperative to retain, or at least speak with, an experienced auto accident attorney so they can open up a claim with the other drivers insurance and eventually 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. For these reasons, it is recommended to speak with a lawyer and seek medical attention immediately. 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 settlement case for top dollar.

6 Factors That Affect Your Back Injury Settlement Value

There are many factors that determine your potential back injury settlement. They are:

Type of Back Injury

Back injury severity is a massive factor in how much money you get. Back injuries from the most to least expensive, generally speaking, are listed below. Spinal cord injury cases can result in millions in compensation. Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, tend to result in lower settlements. They are invisible on X-rays and other diagnostic tests.

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken vertebrae
  • Herniated discs
  • Slipped vertebrae
  • Strains and sprains
  • Whiplash
  • Pinched nerves
  • Degenerative changes

One notable personal injury attorney reports that after paralysis, the next biggest back injury cases are when the person has a fused vertebrae and pain pump installed.

Further, juries often award big verdicts where the accident victim has a compression fracture and needed surgery.

Need for Continuing Medical Care

After a car accident, you may need back specialists, doctors, surgeons and physical therapists. If your back injury is bad enough, walking, dressing and going to the bathroom may be impossible by yourself. Ongoing medical care may include:

  • MRIs, CT scans, X-rays, EMGs
  • Back surgeries, such as discectomies, fusions, and laminectomies
  • Physical therapy
  • Home assistance
  • Steroid and/or pain injections to lower pain and swelling
  • Back braces
  • Pain management and medication
  • Mobility devices, such as walkers and wheelchairs

Your attorney’s settlement calculations must include all medical expenses, including ongoing and future care. More surgery and complications may occur. These factors may boost the size of your back injury settlement. Surgery will almost always raise your settlement amount (more on this below).

Can You Go Back to Work?

A back injury could keep you out of a job for months or longer, so your settlement must include lost income. You may get less money if you return to work in a few weeks.

But people with serious back injuries often struggle to work. For instance, a bulging disk can make standing or sitting pure agony. Lifting, reaching, bending, or twisting could be impossible. Pain medications can make you drowsy or dizzy.

Your personal injury attorney will determine how your back injury affects your lifetime income. They may talk to vocational experts to add up the long-term employment costs of your back pain.

How Much Insurance Coverage Is Available?

After a car accident, you need to file an insurance claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. If the driver was working, you may be able to file a claim against their employer. This could increase your settlement. Your personal injury lawyer will pinpoint every insurance policy that could pay for your injuries.

Here’s the bad news: Many drivers lack enough insurance to cover devastating back injuries fully. Your costs can include medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and more. If the liable driver does not have enough insurance, your lawyer may consider tapping your own policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or uninsured/underinsured coverage.

Strength of Your Case

If the accident is 100% the other driver’s fault without question, you have a strong case. But not every back injury case is black and white.

The at-fault driver could blame you for the accident. Auto insurance companies like to blame injured parties by citing comparative fault laws. These scenarios could slash your settlement amount.

To counter aggressive insurance companies and defense attorneys, you need a strong case and a skilled personal injury attorney.

Statute of Limitations

Every state has a statute of limitations on filing personal injury claims. Most states require you to file your claim within one to four years of your date of injury. A serious back injury requires a strong case, so talk to a good attorney as soon as possible.

Back and Neck Injury Settlement Calculator

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident causing a back injury? Find out how much financial compensation you may be legally entitled to in just minutes with our free online Back Injury Settlement Calculator.

Factors that Might Affect Your Back Injury Claim

Does Your Length of Treatment Affect Your Back Injury Settlement Amount?

Yes. As the length of your back treatment increases, so does the value of your case. Someone who treats for six months has a stronger case than a person who gets treatment for four weeks. Also, surgery enhances the case value for settlement purposes. Back surgery can easily multiply the settlement of a lower back pain lawsuit. The auto insurance company may claim that the back injury is unrelated to the car accident. A common argument is you could have prevented your injury if you lost weight.

When Does Your Length of Treatment Least Affect Your Back Injury Settlement?

Your length of treatment would have the least effect on the back injury case if the cars were undamaged. This is because the auto insurance company will claim the car accident did not cause your back injury.

Will Steroid Injections Boost The Value Of Your Lower Back Injury Settlement?

Yes. Receiving steroid injections to your lower back will boost the amount of your settlement. But you must prove the other driver was careless or negligent. Your doctor must state that the car accident led to your lower back injury.

Will a Herniated Disc Boost The Value of Your Lower Back Injury Settlement?

Yes. But you must prove that the auto accident caused your herniated disc. A bulging disc surgery or herniated disc surgery will increase the value of the claim even more.

Do Some Auto Insurance Companies Pay More On Back Injury Claims?

Yes. Some auto insurance companies are known to pay more in lower back injury claims.

Insurance companies such as The Hartford and USAA may pay more for back injury claims than Liberty Mutual and a few others.

Average Back Injury Settlements From Car Accidents

Some legal sources report the median award for a back injury case is $212,500. Of course, case value hinges on many factors. We highlighted those factors above.

Below are some sample back injury settlements and verdicts from various personal injury attorneys. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney today to understand what your particular case may be worth.

New York 2020 — $25,000 Verdict: Plaintiff’s van stopped at an intersection, and car rear ended him. He did not seek medical attention at first, but went to his doctor 48 hours later. Plaintiff claimed he had disc herniation and bulges in four discs. He also suffered tears in his shoulder. Surgery was required on the shoulder.

Texas 2020 — $33,525 Verdict: Car struck plaintiff from the side after he stopped at a stop sign. He went to the emergency room two days later and received diagnosis of soft-tissue back pain. Plaintiff suffered herniation to his C2-3, C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, L2-3, L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1. Plaintiff needed physical therapy and pain management, and the plaintiff complained of regular lower back pain if he sat for long.

Virginia 2020 — $1.98 Million Settlement: Passenger in off-road vehicle hit an illegally parked tractor-trailer. Plaintiff suffered fractures to the L2, sternum, ankle and ribs. Multiple injuries resulted in a higher settlement.

Maryland 2020 — $205,000 Verdict: Fatigued driver hit plaintiff from behind. Plaintiff suffered soft-tissue back and knee injuries. Needed physical therapy and knee surgery.

Maryland 2019 — $7.4 Million Verdict: Van hit plaintiff’s car from the side at a gas station. MRI showed L5-S1 herniation and aggravation of his degenerative disc disease at C3-4 and C5-6. He had 24 months of physical therapy, and doctors ordered two-level fusion surgery and discectomy. Both surgeries failed. Plaintiff suffered permanent impairment and cannot work.

Maryland 2019 — $120,400 Verdict: Defendant rear-ended plaintiff stopped behind a school bus. He suffered soft-tissue shoulder, neck and rib injuries. He also had his pre-existing degenerative spinal injuries aggravated, which led to radicular pain in the lumbar region. The man needed physical therapy, but his lower back injuries did not resolve. Future surgery will be needed to fuse vertebrae in the lower spine.

Florida 2019 — $100,000 Settlement: Plaintiff stopped at a red light. The defendant rear-ended him. Liability was clear and the defendant admitted fault. Plaintiff suffered herniated spinal disc at L5-S1. He needed a hemilaminectomy and discectomy.

Maryland 2018 — $53,800 Verdict: Defendant rear-ended UPS driver on the highway. He suffered injuries to his upper and middle back. Sought compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost earnings.

Will Getting Surgery Increase My Back Injury Car Settlement?

It may. Most personal injury lawyers know that surgery is a big factor in personal injury lawsuits. One notable attorney claims that 94% of his biggest settlements involved surgery. He notes an average settlement amount in 2019 of $18,500 for all of his cases.

But the average settlement with surgery? More than $215,000! Thus, his average settlement for cases with surgery is $200,000 higher. It is possible to get a big settlement without surgery, but those are exceptions. The average back injury settlement that involves surgery is more than $100,000. Surgery increases the size of back injury settlements for many reasons. Surgeries involve lengthy hospital stays, rehabilitation, risk of infection, and complications. They also require more doctors, surgeons and other medical professionals to care for you.

A Back Injury Case Where Surgery Resulted in a Better Settlement

This is a real personal injury case from another attorney.

A woman stopped at a red light. Another driver hit her from the rear, who was clearly at fault. Because of the crash, the woman suffered lower back pain. She received treatment from her physician, who ordered an MRI. The test showed a herniated disc. The woman had no complaints of back pain before the crash. Her doctor recommended a discectomy surgery. The woman had the operation.

Monetary Results

The other driver had auto insurance with $100,000 in bodily injury coverage. In Florida, jury verdicts for herniated disc pain and suffering range from $25,000-$50,000. The woman paid $5,000 in medical bills and $500 in lost earnings. The man was at fault, and the accident led to the woman’s injuries. So, the man’s insurance policy should cover her economic damages – medical costs, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. In the attorney’s view, the value of the case was $35,000.

Without an Attorney, This Woman Would Have Lost Out on Funds

However, the insurance company offered a measly $4,000. Why? It was their opening offer and insurance companies often throw out ridiculously low settlement gambits at first. That’s why you need an aggressive personal injury attorney in your corner to fight for your rights.

Second, in Florida, you must have a permanent injury in a car accident to get pain and suffering money. Third, the woman was 40. Many doctors claim a lot of 40 year olds have herniated discs and don’t know it. So, the insurance company offered her pennies on the dollar. But the attorney never made a counteroffer because the client had back surgery. The insurance company immediately paid $100,000 on the bodily injury portion of the policy. So, the woman received approximately $65,000 more than her attorney thought the case was worth. And, she got $96,000 more than the insurance company’s pitiful opening offer.

Bottom line: If your doctor recommends back surgery, it may increase your damages, especially if liability is clear.

What Will Decrease The Value Of My Back Injury Settlement?

There are some defenses and factors that can reduce the value of your back injury settlement. For instance, if you bear part of the blame for the car accident, the portion of fault attributed to you will lower the claim. You may receive nothing for your claim in a few states if the accident was even 1% your fault (Virginia is one of them).

Also, you must follow your physician’s orders after the car accident. Failing to follow your doctor’s treatment plan for your back injury will reduce your settlement.

The insurance company will claim that your injuries and pain would be less if you followed your doctor’s orders. Don’t throw money away! Always follow your doctor’s treatment plan.

Why You Should Never Underestimate A Car Accident Back Injury

A severe crash accident may make you think of blood and broken bones. But not every car accident injury is apparent. Back injuries can be grave and not clear to the naked eye. Get medical attention after a car accident to identify any injuries. You could have a serious back injury and not know for days. A violent rear-end or head-on car crash can easily damage the delicate nerves, bones, ligaments, and tendons in your back.

The ability to sit, walk, lift things, and engage in daily activities is easy to take for granted. A major back injury can prevent you from living life and engaging in activities you love. Even taking a shower or dressing can be agony. You may need help from your family to live after a back injury. If you liked to run, walk, swim, play tennis or golf, you may never be able to again with a back injury. Even cooking dinner alone can be impossible because you cannot bend over or reach for things.

Always seek prompt medical attention after a car accident, especially if you suspect a back or neck injury.

Getting Legal Help for Your Back and Neck Injury Settlements

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.

FAQ About rear end car accidents

There is not one settlement sum for neck injuries caused as the consequence of being involved in a car accident. That being said, it’s important to understand that each car accident case has varying factors that mean each individual case will have different settlement values. Your settlement will be directly impacted by the proof that you can give and the manner in which you’ve received medicinal treatment.

Immediately following the accident, you must be seen by a medical professional and begin treatment as soon as possible. This allows you to begin your paper trail of proof that you have an injury and have been treated since the date of the accident. This will help provide the proof you need in order to receive maximum compensation to cover and present medical bills, potential future surgery, physical therapy costs, pain and suffering, and loss of income due to recovery time. It’s important that you fully understand which injuries you can be compensated for and the best way to gain that knowledge is to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Not only will you receive a financial award for your neck injury, but there are also non-injury assets that will impact the sum of your settlement. This will include if the negligent driver was driving for a company, if the negligent driver has insurance or not, or if both drivers shared the fault. 

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Oftentimes, a car accident will happen from behind, leaving you unprepared for what’s about to happen. Your head will rapidly jolt forward and back, causing pain to your neck and back. There are cases where you might not feel pain in those areas immediately following the collision.

Do not dismiss a doctor visit, because you may need a scan from a professional to diagnose what type of injury you’ve sustained. In each situation involving a car accident, there are unique factors that create a total sum of damages. First you must evaluate what type of neck and back injury you have been diagnosed with. Once you understand that, you can factor in other variables such as recovery time, possible surgery, medical bills, wages lost from time missed at work, pain and suffering as well as property damage.

There is not one answer as to what an average settlement value for back and neck injuries are due to each situation having so many diverse factors. However, here are some examples of real settlements received by neck and back injury victims: 

  • $380,000 received for a herniated disc requiring surgery
  • $250,000 received for re-injuring a neck injury 
  • $525,000 received for a spinal disc injury
  • $100,000 received for a bulging disc from a rear end collision
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National data suggest average costs for spinal fusion surgery runs from $14,000 to $26,000.. This does not include your hospital stay beyond a few days, follow up care, medical equipment, drugs and related costs.. There are some cervical spinal fusion surgeries that could cost $50,000 or $70,000.

Beyond medical costs, there are other factors that will influence the amount of the claim:

  • Liability: Was the other driver clearly at fault? Is their insurance provider fighting the claim?
  • Permanent impairment: Even a successful surgery can lead to you being unable to return to your previous ability to function.. This has a huge effect on your claim
  • Claim or lawsuit: If you do your claim through an insurance company, you will probably get less, but a trial incurs much higher legal fees, and there is a change you could get nothing.

If the other party was at fault and you suffer permanent impairment, it is possible to have a settlement in the mid or upper six figures.

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The average settlement figure for your back injury will vary widely based upon the sort of injury you had.. According to a recent national study, 16% of verdicts in spinal disc injury settlements were more than $1 million, and 7% were more than $2.5 million.. Thus, a serious back injury involving the spinal cord and vertebrae may settle for millions of dollars.

However, less severe injuries to your back, such as a disc herniation, also can yield a large settlement.. These settlements can be harder to diagnose because the injury cannot be seen on an x-ray.. A CT or MRI might be needed to diagnose such an injury.. A herniated disc personal injury typically yields a lower settlement than a ruptured of bulging disc.

A major factor that influences your settlement for a back injury is how much the injury causes you pain and damages your way of life.

In summary, the injury type, severity of pain, and the extent of impact on your life, your back-injury settlement could easily range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars.

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Back injuries can range widely from strains and sprains to injuries to the spinal cord that cause paralysis.. So, the settlement amount for any one case has to be decided on a case by case basis.

But generally, typical compensation for a back-injury claim has both non-economic and economic damages.. Your economic damages may include compensation for your past and future medical bills and lost income and wages.. It is important to provide you attorney with all of your medical bill and lost wage information so that you can be fully compensated for your financial losses.

Non-economic damages are for non-monetary losses that are related to your back injuries.. These are more challenging to place a dollar value on.. Non-economic damages normally include pain and suffering; emotional distress and possibly loss of consortium, or loss of the ability to have an intimate relationship with a partner.

You can get a good concept if you got a fair settlement by looking at how the insurance company valued your pain and suffering.. They typically will use a multiplier ranging from 1.5 to 5, times your economic damages.. Your attorney should be able to effectively negotiate a fair multiplier based upon your level of pain and suffering.

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There are many factors involved in a personal injury case to create an accurate formula to accurately value a neck or back injury claim.. But below we provide some considerations to keep in mind as you attempt to value your neck or back injury.

To get a ballpark idea, here are some real-world verdicts involved back and neck injuries:

  • $9500 verdict for a back and neck injury due to a rear end crash.
  • $100,000 settlement for bulging back and neck discs that required surgery after a 60-year-old was rear ended at a stop light.
  • $250,000 settlement for the aggravation of a pre-existing back injury in a car accident.
  • $300,000 verdict for a woman in a car accident who had disc herniations in her back and neck.
  • $1.2 million settlement for the aggravation of a pre-existing neck injury that needed surgery after a rear end accident.

Neck and back injuries can range from minor sprains and strains to serious back injuries that involve permanent injuries.. The more severe and longer lasting the back and neck injuries are, the more compensation you will receive.. To obtain a better idea about what money you might get, talk to a personal injury attorney in your city.

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Since there are various types of back injuries a car accident victim may sustain ranging from sprains to paralysis, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact settlement amount. Each individual case will have different scenarios with different injuries making it difficult to generalize a settlement value. In order to get an estimated value of what a decent settlement should be, you must take a closer look at what you are being compensated for. These include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical expenses
  • Loss of wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of mobility/quality of life
  • Emotional distress

Once you have reviewed how much all your expenses set you back and established how much the non-economical damages are worth, you can add everything up to get a rough estimate. To find an estimated amount, you can follow this general rule by taking those values, adding them up, and multiply the sum by three for the estimation. An example of this would be $8,000 in medical expenses (surgeries, x-rays, PT) and loss of wages equating to $3,000. Adding that up totals $11,000 and multiplying that by 3 gives you $33,000. Your settlement will could range anywhere from $26,000- $40,000.

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It is not uncommon to walk away from an accident thinking you have escaped without any injuries. Oftentimes, back injuries will not show symptoms until several days after the accident. Lower back pain can sometimes correlate with whiplash or may be a more serious injury with a longer recovery time such as a herniated disc. Depending on where the back pain stems from and how severe the injury is, with determine how long you will experience pain. However, if you are experiencing any type of pain from an injury due to a car accident, you have the right to sue as long as you were not found at fault. Be cautious of signing any type of release liability form until a medical professional has examined you for injuries. If you sign the form, you forfeit any opportunity to sue the responsible party for your injuries. This is why it is crucial to call a personal injury attorney to find out what options you have so that you may be compensated the maximum amount.

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Every injury is different and some take longer to heal than others. When it comes to back injuries after an accident, it is common to feel pain and discomfort for up to 6 weeks, sometimes longer depending on the injury. In order to determine just how long you will be experiencing pain you will need to consult with a medical professional. Your specialist will perform many different exams including motion tests and x-rays to diagnose what type of injuries you have sustained and determine a rough estimated recovery time. Do not delay, and go to see a doctor in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment options in order to recover as fast as possible. Even if you believe you do not have any injuries, it is very common to experience symptoms the following days or weeks later. You may have injuries that you aren’t aware of and overtime without treatment, may worsen causing issues later down the road.

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Cervical fusion is a type of surgery performed on victims of car accidents who have suffered neck injuries. These surgeries cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to years for recovery, if the victim is able to make a complete recovery. Let’s take a look at the average settlement amount for cervical fusion so you know what to expect if you ever require such a procedure after suffering a neck injury in a car accident.

Factors That Lead to High Settlements

The nature of the injury as well as the extent of the injury will both be major factors in determining the settlement amount for your case. There are four other important factors that must be taken into account and they include the following:

  • The amount of insurance coverage that is available
  • If the negligence of the at-fault party is at 100 percent
  • The experience of the personal injury attorney you hire
  • If the defendant is a large company

Should the liability of the at-fault party in the accident that led to your injury be accepted, as in not argued, the amount of compensation you receive should be quite high. The compensation package will be smaller if there is a chance that full liability will not be placed on the at-fault party. The risk of not receiving any compensation is also present if the no liability is placed on the defendant in the case.

Estimating Non-Economic Damages

A tricky part of obtaining a settlement in a cervical fusion case is estimating the non-economic damages. These are damages that don’t come with a price tag, such as lost wages or medical expenses. These include loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and mental anguish among others.

The bottom line is that the average settlement for a cervical fusion procedure varies based on each individual case. Some settlements might come in around $500,000, while others can reach the multi-million dollar range.

In the event that you endured neck, cervical spinal injuries or any other type of wounds after an auto collision and were not found at fault, you have the right to sue and receive compensation for damages. Like any other personal injury settlement, they differ from case to case. How much compensation you may receive depends upon numerous variables. Neck injuries often call for surgical repair called a cervical fusion and can require a lengthy recovery along with months of pain and immobilization. These types of injuries are generally awarded large amounts of compensation due to the severity of the injury. Some real life examples of how much car accident victims of cervical spine injuries have received include:

  • $2,750,000- neck injury car accident victim requiring a 3-level fusion and anterior cervical discectomy
  • $537,000- car accident victim requiring cervical fusion surgery
  • $775,282- car accident victim suffering a herniated disc requiring surgeries and a spinal fusion.
  • $7,000,000- woman suffered herniated disc and nerve damage requiring anterior cervical discectomy and fusion two vertebrae
  • $1,200,000- truck struck woman from behind at a stop light, requiring anterior cervical discectomy with fusion
  • $2,760,000- victim suffered injuries requiring anterior cervical discectomy with fusion
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