As you recover from injuries sustained in a car accident, determining the value of the damages can be challenging. Medical bills are mounting, pain and suffering continue, and lost wages from time off work create financial stress. A herniated disk resulting from the collision further complicates the situation. Understanding how insurance companies calculate the worth of this type of injury is critical to obtaining fair compensation. Discussing your case with a texas car accident lawyer is always a good idea.
What Is a Herniated Disk Injury?
A herniated disk, also known as a slipped or ruptured disk, refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions that sit between the individual bones of your spine (vertebrae). These disks act as shock absorbers for your spine and allow flexibility. A herniated disk occurs when some of the disk's center pushes out through a tear in the disk's outer layer.
What Causes a Herniated Disk?
A herniated disk can be caused by aging, injury, excessive strain or trauma to the spine. As you age, the disks naturally lose flexibility and the gel-like center starts to dry out, making them more prone to tears or cracks. A herniated disk can also occur from improper lifting, poor posture, excess body weight, or physical trauma such as a fall or blow to the back. Repeated strain on the spine from twisting, turning, or bending awkwardly can also lead to a herniated disk over time.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disk
The most common symptoms of a herniated disk include:
- Sharp or shooting pain in the lower back, buttocks, or leg (known as sciatica)
- Muscle spasms or cramping in the back or leg
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg or foot
- Difficulty standing or walking for long periods
If left untreated, muscle weakness can become permanent. Seeking medical care for proper diagnosis and treatment is critical. An orthopedic doctor can determine if you have a herniated disk based on your symptoms, medical history, and physical exam. They may order imaging tests such as an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and check the severity.
How Herniated Disks Occur in Car Accidents
Herniated disks commonly occur in car accidents due to the extreme forces exerted on the spine. As a vehicle rapidly accelerates, decelerates or changes direction, the soft disks between vertebrae can tear or rupture. This can cause the inner nucleus pulposus to push through the outer annulus fibrosus, compressing or irritating nearby spinal nerves.
- Sudden impact: Rear-end collisions or crashes that jerk the head sharply can cause disks to herniate. The sheer force tears or ruptures the annulus fibrosus, allowing the nucleus pulposus to escape.
- Improper head restraint adjustment: If the head restraint is too low or not adjusted properly, the head can whip back during impact. This places excessive stress on the cervical disks, often leading to herniation.
- Poor driving posture: Slouching or hunching over the steering wheel reduces the spine's range of motion and shock absorption. When an impact occurs, there is less flexibility and padding to prevent disk damage. Maintaining good driving posture with arms slightly bent, shoulders back, and head level can help minimize injury risk.
The severity of a herniated disk can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, inflammation and swelling may resolve on their own with rest. More serious herniations may require epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, chiropractic care, or in persistent cases, spine surgery to repair or remove the damaged disk. If you have suffered a herniated disk due to the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options and pursue the maximum settlement for your injuries.
Factors That Determine Herniated Disk Settlement Values
There are several factors that determine the settlement value of a herniated disk claim in Texas.
Severity of the Disk Herniation
The more severe the disk herniation, the higher the settlement value. A herniation that causes nerve compression or impairment, loss of range of motion, or requires surgery will yield a higher settlement than a minor bulge that causes little discomfort. Medical records, MRI and CT scan results, and physician testimony regarding the severity of the herniation will be considered.
Extensive medical treatment, physical therapy, chiropractic care, pain management, and especially spine surgery will increase the settlement value. Medical bills, records of treatment, and testimony from physicians and therapists regarding the necessity and outcome of treatment will be evaluated.
Duration and Impact of Symptoms
Long-term pain, numbness, weakness, and loss of range of motion or mobility that significantly impacts the plaintiff’s life and activities will yield a higher settlement. Detailed records of symptoms, their duration and severity, and specific limitations and life impacts will strengthen the case.
Age and Overall Health of Plaintiff
A herniated disk injury to a younger or otherwise healthy plaintiff will often lead to a higher settlement, as the effects may be lifelong. Injuries to elderly or less healthy plaintiffs, even if severe, may yield lower settlements due to difficulty determining the exact cause and extent of symptoms and disability.
Liability and Fault
A case in which liability and fault can be clearly attributed to the defendant will result in a higher settlement than one in which liability is disputed or shared between parties. Police reports, witness statements, and other evidence that establishes the defendant's negligence will significantly impact settlement value.
In summary, the specifics of your herniated disk injury, treatment, symptoms, personal details, and the strength of evidence against the defendant will determine how much your claim may yield in settlement. An experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate the details of your case and pursue the maximum settlement value.
Hiring an Experienced Texas Car Accident Lawyer for Your Herniated Disk Claim
Hiring an Experienced Texas Car Accident Lawyer for Your Herniated Disk Claim
If you have suffered a herniated disk in a car accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation. However, navigating an insurance claim and personal injury lawsuit can be complicated. It is in your best interest to hire an experienced car accident lawyer in Texas to help you pursue the maximum settlement for your injuries.
An accomplished lawyer who specializes in car accident cases can determine the appropriate value of your claim based on factors like:
- The severity of your herniated disk injury and prognosis for recovery. More serious nerve damage and long-term impairment may increase the worth.
- Any required medical treatments like physical therapy, medication, injections or surgery. The higher your medical bills, the greater your claim's value.
- Your age, occupation and how the injury impacts your ability to work. A herniated disk that prevents a young, active person from returning to their job may warrant higher compensation.
- The at-fault driver's insurance policy limits and assets. While settlements are often negotiated within policy limits, in some cases further legal action may be needed to pursue damages above the limits.
An experienced lawyer can also handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf, maximizing the settlement offer while avoiding legal action if possible. However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, they can file a personal injury lawsuit to pursue the full, fair value of your claim in court.
For the best chance at maximum compensation after suffering a herniated disk in a Texas car accident, hire a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. They can advise you on how to get proper medical diagnosis and treatment, ensure evidence from the crash scene is preserved, and work tirelessly to recover damages for the pain, suffering and financial losses you have incurred. Put your trust in a reputable car accident attorney to fight for your rights and best interests.
Average Settlement Values for Herniated Disks in Texas
The average settlement value for a herniated disk injury can vary significantly based on the specifics of your accident and injury. However, settlements can be higher or lower depending on:
Severity of the injury
A herniated disk that requires surgery and causes permanent nerve damage will typically result in a higher settlement than a minor disk bulge that heals on its own with rest and physical therapy. The severity and permanence of your symptoms play a large role in determining the value.
Fault and liability
If the other driver was clearly at fault for the accident and your injuries, the settlement value may be on the higher end of the range. When fault is disputed, the final settlement amount tends to be lower. The strength of the evidence supporting your claim also impacts the potential payout.
Impact on work and daily activities
If your herniated disk prevents you from working or significantly impacts your quality of life and ability to do normal daily tasks, your claim is worth more. Lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and the need for home health care can all increase the settlement amount.
Higher medical bills, especially for surgery, physical therapy, pain management, and other treatments mean a higher settlement payout. Your medical records and bills help verify the severity of your injury and substantiate damages related to past and future care.
While every case is different, using recent settlement data from comparable herniated disk claims in Texas can help you determine a fair settlement range for your injury. Be prepared to provide as much evidence as possible to support the full impact of your herniated disk when negotiating with the insurance company. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you have the best chance of obtaining a favorable settlement.
Call A Texas Car Accident Lawyer At Fletcher Law
If you have suffered a herniated disk in a car accident in Texas, it is important to understand what your injury may be worth. A herniated disk can be an extremely painful and debilitating condition that often requires medical treatment and time off work to heal.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The first step is to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible following the accident. They can properly diagnose your herniated disk, determine the severity, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Be sure to follow all of the doctor’s orders closely. Failing to get medical attention or follow suggested treatments can negatively impact your claim.
Gather Evidence of Your Injuries
Keep records of all medical visits, tests, procedures, medications, medical equipment, and other expenses related to your herniated disk. Get copies of all medical reports, bills, and invoices. This evidence will help to demonstrate the severity of your injury to the insurance company.
Contact a Texas Car Accident Lawyer
Do not deal directly with the insurance company yourself. Call a reputable Texas personal injury law firm that handles car accident cases instead. An experienced lawyer can handle negotiations with the insurance company and work to get you the maximum compensation for your claim. They can review your medical records and bills to determine how much your specific herniated disk injury may be worth based on average settlements and verdicts in Texas.
Herniated disk injuries in Texas car accidents typically settle for between $50,000 to $200,000 on average, depending on the severity. More serious disk injuries that require surgery and result in permanent impairment can potentially yield higher settlements, sometimes $500,000 or more. An attorney can help determine what a fair settlement may be in your unique situation.
You have likely suffered greatly due to your herniated disk from the car accident. The pain, lack of mobility, time off work, medical bills, and more have taken a huge toll. While no amount of money can undo the damage, you deserve fair compensation under Texas law to help recover financially and move forward. Work with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the value of your claim based on the severity of your injury and hold the at-fault driver accountable. Call Fletcher Law for help today.
Though the road to recovery may be long, you have the opportunity to obtain justice and closure. Don't go through this alone - fight for your rights and the maximum settlement you deserve. There are better days ahead.