How Much Is Your Car Accident Settlement Worth? Free Settlement Estimate

Back and neck injuries in car accidents are incredibly common. When one car rear ends another, the force often sends the head whipping back and forth violently, and the force can cause the vertebrae in the spinal column to jolt out of place.These are known as bulging or herniated disc injuries, and this article will example the average settlement amount for herniated discs after a car accident, which vertebrae are most likely to be damaged in a car accident, and how to maximize the car accident settlement you receive for your herniated disc injury.

Car Accident Settlement

Herniated Disc Injuries – A Common Occurrence in Car Accidents

A herniated disc can occur after a car accident due to trauma to the spine or neck, often from whiplash or force. The most common mechanism of injury is when one’s body is forced into an abnormal range of motion that exceeds its normal physiological capacity, leading to a tear in the outer wall of an intervertebral disc and subsequent leakage of its inner contents.

Other ways in which a herniated disc can occur during a car accident include direct impact with the steering wheel or dashboard, overextension while bracing oneself for impact, and traumatic blows to the neck or head region. These types of injuries can be difficult to diagnose as there may not be any perceivable outward signs of injury, however if left untreated the effects can cause extreme discomfort and long-term damage. It is important to seek medical attention immediately following any type of automobile accident regardless if you feel injured or not—a health professional will be able to determine if there are any underlying issues like a herniated disc that could lead to further problems down the line. Taking precautionary measures such as wearing a seatbelt, avoiding texting while driving and practicing defensive driving will help reduce your risk for a herniated disc injury in a car accident.

Average Car Accident Settlement For Herniated Disc

The median settlement for a herniated disc in a car accident case is difficult to determine, as the value of a personal injury claim can vary depending on a number of factors, including the severity of the injury, the extent of the victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the median settlement for a herniated disc in a car accident case is between $80,000 and $150,000.

There have been cases where car accident settlements for herniated discs have been much higher than the average or median. For example, in one case, a victim was awarded \$1 million after suffering a herniated lumbar disc in a car accident. The victim was unable to work for several years and had to undergo multiple surgeries.

It is important to note that the average or median car accident settlement for herniated discs is just a starting point. The actual amount of money a victim receives in a settlement will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of their case.

Tips for Maximizing Your Chances of Getting a Fair Settlement for a Herniated Lumbar Disc

Here are some tips on how to maximize for car accident settlement for

  • Get prompt medical attention: The sooner you see a doctor after your accident, the better. This will help to document your injuries and make it easier to prove that they were caused by the accident.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders: It is important to follow your doctor’s orders and complete all of your recommended treatments. This will show the insurance company that you are serious about your injuries and that you are taking steps to heal.
  • Keep track of your medical expenses: Keep track of all of your medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, hospital bills, prescription medications, and any other expenses that you have incurred as a result of your injury. This will help you to calculate the total amount of your damages.
  • Keep a journal: Keep a journal of your symptoms and how they affect your daily life. This will help you document your injury’s impact on your life.
  • Get a copy of the police report: Get a copy of the police report from the accident. This will document the details of the accident and who was at fault.
  • Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney: An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to understand your legal rights and options and can fight for the compensation that you deserve.
  • Be mindful of what you post on social media after a car accident. If you post vacation photos soon after your accident and injury, and you are seeking compensation for your herniated disc, the insurance adjuster may argue that your injuries were not that serious.

Diagnosis of Herniated Disc

Several medical examinations and tests, such as MRI scans, CT scans, and X-rays, can be used to confirm the presence of a herniated disc. Getting a timely diagnosis is essential as it allows for more effective treatment and prevents further complications. It is also crucial to your car accident settlement negotiations, more on this below.

What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc from a Car Accident?

The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary depending on the location of the herniation and the severity of the injury. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain: This is the most common symptom of a herniated disc. The pain can be sharp, burning, or dull, ranging from mild to severe.
  • Numbness: Numbness or tingling can occur in the body served by the affected nerve. For example, if the herniated disc is in the lower back, you may experience numbness or tingling in your leg.
  • Weakness: Weakness can also occur in the body served by the affected nerve. This can make lifting objects, walking, or performing other activities difficult.
  • Stiffness: Stiffness in the back or neck is another common symptom of a herniated disc.
  • Changes in reflexes: Your doctor may also check your reflexes to see if they are normal. If the herniated disc is pressing on a nerve, your reflexes may be decreased or absent.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to prevent the development of long-term complications. Ideally, you should see a medical doctor after the accident so he can assess you and document your injuries, This is especially important when you want to file a car accident claim and recover compensation.

Treatment for Herniated Disc After a Car Accident

Treatment options for a herniated disc can be broadly categorized into non-surgical and surgical treatments. Non-surgical treatments may include pain medications, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections. If these treatments are ineffective or severe herniation, surgical treatments such as a discectomy (removal of the herniated part of the disc) or a spinal fusion (joining two or more vertebrae together) may be recommended. Following treatment, patients may need to engage in rehabilitation and physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility.

Which Vertebrae are Most Susceptible to Herniated Disc Injuries in Car Accidents?

Herniated Disc Car Accident SettlementThe cervical spine, or the neck region, is one of the most commonly affected areas when it comes to herniated disc injuries in car accidents. This is due to its proximity to the steering wheel and dashboard, along with its fragility when compared to other vertebrae like those in the lumbar spine. Injuries sustained at this level can range from minor discomfort to severe pain and may even result in paralysis if not treated properly. Furthermore, herniated discs in the cervical spine often exhibit a greater tendency to re-injure due to its delicate nature.

In addition to the cervical spine, any vertebrae located within the thoracic region of the spine can become susceptible to a herniated disc if subjected to direct trauma from an automobile accident. The effects of such an injury vary based on the severity of each individual case but typically includes symptoms such as pain or numbness radiating through one’s upper body and weakened muscles in the arms or legs depending on which nerve root is affected.  

The most commonly injured vertebrae in auto accidents are C4-C5 and C5-C6. A C4-C5 injury is higher up on the spinal cord, and usually leads to pain and weakness in the shoulders. A herniated disc in this part of the neck can lead to nerve root impingement. When those nerves are pressed, muscles may weaken. That weakness does not usually lead to numbness and tingling, however. A C4-C5 case often has more value if the patient has a job that is physically demanding. A good car accident attorney should be able to obtain substantial compensation for a muscle weakness injury. 

A C5-C6 injury is slightly lower on the spinal cord than a C4-C5 bulging or herniated disc injury. These disc injuries may cause tingling, numbness, and pain down to the victim’s thumb. Other signs can be bicep weakness. With this injury, the insurance company may try to minimize injuries by talking about the range of motion or Spurling tests. 

The Importance of an MRI in Herniated Disc Car Accident Settlements

Also, know that your MRI results are vital to the value of your herniated disc claim after a car accident. Your attorney and the insurance company will probably spend hours debating about your MRI. If the MRI indicates a pre-existing injury, the insurance company will argue your neck pain after a car accident is unrelated to the crash. However, a crash victim can have a pre-existing herniated disc with no pain that becomes painful after a car accident. If you, your doctor, and attorney can prove you had no pain before and have pain now, you are in a strong position in terms of getting a favorable neck injury settlement after a car accident

Car Accident Settlement

What’s the Difference between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc?

While herniated discs and bulging discs are both problems related to the vertebrae in the spine, they are not the same injury and thus, do not have similar payouts in car accident settlements. Let’s examine the differences.

A herniated disc occurs when a tear forms in the outer layer of an intervertebral disc, causing it to leak out a portion of its inner soft material — called nucleus pulposus — into the spinal canal which can press against nearby structures like nerves and result in pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation.

A bulging disc is different than a herniated disc because it involves an outward bulge of the soft inner material that only pushes against the exterior wall of the intervertebral disc, not outside of it like a herniation does. Because this process does not involve any tears, it’s generally not considered as serious as a herniation, and can often be managed with conservative treatments such as physical therapy and medications. However, if left untreated for too long it can lead to more serious pain symptoms so seeking medical attention is always recommended. Both herniated discs and bulging discs can be very painful conditions so understanding what type you have is important for getting the most effective treatment plan.

What are some Examples of Actual Herniated Disc Car Settlements?

If you are wondering what your herniated disc car accident settlement might be worth, here are some real-world settlements below. 

$175,000 Herniated Disc Settlement 

A driver ran his car into a tractor-trailer. The big rig cut him off and caused the wreck. The truck had $750,000 of liability coverage. 

The personal injury attorney argued the trucker caused the crash because he did not yield right of way when making a left turn. The client also had the green light, and a witness signed an affidavit that the trucker caused the wreck. 

The client’s car was totaled. It is easier to convince an insurance company that a car wreck caused a herniated disc if the car damage is terrible. This is even more true when the injured party is 40-years old and claims the accident caused his herniated disc. In general, truck accident settlements involving commercial vehicles tend to have higher payouts, so this herniated disc settlement may be higher than it would have been if the victim had been struck by another car. Additionally, commercial vehicle accident settlements tend to be higher because companies using vehicles for business purposes are usually required to carry higher insurance policy limits than individuals. 

$100,000 Herniated Disc Settlement

A driver in Florida hit the accident victim from behind. He did not go to the hospital. After the accident, he complained of back and neck pain to his doctor.

His brother told him to talk to a car accident attorney. After a few days, the back and neck pain got better, so he did not file a car accident lawsuit.

However, the lower back pain recurred a few months later. An MRI revealed a herniated disc in his lumbar spine (L5-S1). He needed a hemilaminectomy, medial facetectomy, and microdiscectomy. These are microsurgery operations.

He needed anesthesia for the surgery. State Farm was the insurer for the liable driver with $100,000 in bodily injury coverage. They offer a policy limit of $100,000 for the herniated disc settlement.

$57,000 Herniated Disc Settlement

A man from New York traveled to Florida. A car hit his vehicle from behind in Miami. The liable driver received a ticket for not maintaining a proper distance. The man said the accident aggravated a previous injury – a bulging disc in the lower back.

A physician gave him steroid injections in the lumbar part of his back. The doctor said he might need a lumbar laminectomy. He elected not to have surgery.

State Farm insured the other driver. They settled the case for $10,000. Travelers insured the injured man’s vehicle with uninsured driver coverage. The insurance company paid $47,000 in a car accident back injury settlement for a total of $57,000.

Will a Steroid Shot Increase the Amount of My Herniated Disc Car Accident Settlement?

It is unlikely that a steroid shot alone would increase the amount of your herniated disc car accident settlement. While steroid shots may reduce inflammation and other associated symptoms, they are typically used to provide short-term relief while a patient awaits further medical attention or diagnosis. Ultimately, it is the insurance company’s responsibility to take into account all expenses that were incurred as a result of the accident before calculating how much compensation you should receive for your injuries. This can include any tests, treatments, and medications you have received since the incident. Therefore, if you have receipts or documents which prove that you have gone through procedures related to your herniated disc injury, then these may help increase your settlement amount.

Story Time: Herniated Disc Settlement After a Car Accident

On September 22, 2022 I was sitting at a red light in my 2018 Ford Edge on University Ave near 1st Avenue in San Diego, CA, when out of nowhere I was hit from behind by a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck. The force from the impact caused me pain and damage. I had no time to react and my head was turned to the right when it happened. I got jolted forward and back, causing me to whack my head against the headrest pretty hard. After exchanging information with the other driver, I got back in my car and began heading home. As I drove, the pain in my neck and other symptoms began to worsen, and were accompanied by a headache that kept getting worse.
The day after the accident, I woke up with a throbbing headache and intense neck pain. I forced myself to go to work even though I was in discomfort. Taking Motrin in the morning provided temporary relief, but my symptoms worsened throughout the day. Although the impact of the accident on my car was not severe, my own injuries were causing me tremendous pain. Consequently, I couldn’t make it through the workday, so I left early to seek medical attention for these injuries. That afternoon I went to my GP doc who had an available appointment right away. During my visit, they examined me and concluded that I had a herniated disc in my C-5/C-6 vertebrae, as well as a mild concussion that occurred when my head was jolted back and forward due to the force of being rear ended.
The doctor recommended twice-weekly chiropractor treatments for 4-6 weeks and prescribed some painkillers that helped a lot. After leaving, I got my prescription filled, took my meds, and some of my pain finally subsided slightly.
I started chiropractic treatments a couple of days later, still feeling pain and discomfort in my neck. My headaches persisted, and upon examination the chiropractor noticed tenderness on palpation over the deltoid and bicipital groove of my right shoulder. My cervical range of motion was limited and extremely uncomfortable.My Chiropractor determined that I had indeed suffered a serious herniated disc injury, which can have long-term implications if not properly treated. Many people recover from herniated disc injuries in the weeks following an auto accident, however there are cases in which pain persists for years. This condition can cause chronic neck pain and hinder daily activities and reduce quality of life. To address this issue, professional medical care is essential to diagnose and treat the underlying injury, thus avoiding further complications. My Chiropractor concluded that my symptoms were indicative of a herniated disc injury, so I continued seeing them regularly over six weeks.
My goal with chiropractic care was to alleviate my herniated disc injury through controlling pain and enhancing the range of motion in my neck. My Chiropractor prescribed ice for the nights following treatment, and heat and compression as methods to treat the pain. While these strategies seemed helpful, I still suffered from significant pain in my neck. Due to the difficulty of finding a comfortable sleeping position, insomnia became an issue. On my last chiropractic visit, I had ongoing stiffness in my neck that wasn’t subsiding. Although daily headaches were no longer present, I continued to suffer from mild-to-moderate headaches 2-3 times a week – something I had never experienced prior to the accident. Knowing this was a result of the crash made it clear that further medical care was necessary for a full recovery.
Knowing it was time to file a claim for my herniated disc injury with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, I contacted my doctors offices the next day and sent a request for my medical records and bills, as well as taking an inventory of all the ways that the injury had limited my ability to live my life as normal. This included missed days from work, chronic pain every day, hindrance with daily tasks such as cooking or cleaning my house, and even playing with my kids, which now resulted in neck, back and shoulder pain.
I found out that my total medical bills from the doctors and X-rays had reached $9,500. I was also aware that the at-fault driver had a minimum California insurance policy with $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident. Knowing that I would need at least $3,000 for future medical care and treatment, I incorporated a pain & suffering multiple of 2 to my settlement demand for the full amount of $25,000 that the insurance policy allowed.
The insurance company was given 10 days to respond to this offer before expiration. What followed was an unexpected proposal from the adjuster of $14,500. Unsatisfied with this unacceptable offer, I immediately rejected it and countered with a demand of $23,000. When this again proved unsuccessful, I made another counteroffer for $21,000 which was accepted by the adjuster three days later along with a car accident settlement release for me to review and sign. After signing off on it, my check arrived within five days much to my relief as it provided an allowance suitable enough to cover any future medical bills resulting from the incident.

How Much Is Your Herniated Disc Car Accident Settlement Worth?

Use this free online settlement calculator to estimate your claim before moving forward with the settlement process. You can also get a free consultation with a local attorney to ask any questions and find out how much your specific case is worth.

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About Michael Eisner, Esq
Michael Eisner earned his Juris Doctorate from George Washington University and practiced law in Illinois for 4 years before leaving to focus his energy on writing full time. He writes about the intersection of law and technology, and enjoys creating content that helps regular people understand how these topics can impact the lives of everyday people in ways they don’t realize.