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Receiving a Settlement After Suffering a Herniated Disk in a Car Accident: What to Expect

One injury that may stem from a car accident is a herniated disk. A herniated disk or a bulging disk involves damage to one of the rubbery cushions between spinal vertebrae. These injuries are common in car accidents. A herniated disk can cause numbness, tingling, and pain that goes down the back and legs, worsening with movement and activity.

Herniated disk victims may struggle to deal with many daily tasks they are used to, especially tasks that involve lifting, bending, or long periods of activity. Herniated disk pain often runs into the arms and legs and may lead to weakness in a limb. Depending on the extent of a herniated disk injury and its impact on a victim’s life, necessary treatment may require physical therapy, chronic pain management, and surgery.

Naturally, those who suffer herniated disk injuries in car accidents want to seek compensation from responsible parties. This blog goes over what you can expect in bringing a car accident claim when you suffered a herniated disk in an automobile crash.

Initial Diagnosis and Treatment

Receiving a Settlement After Suffering a Herniated Disk

You should see a medical professional immediately if you experience back pain following a car crash. Do not wait to see if the pain goes away on its own – usually, it might only worsen. Even if you are unsure whether you have an injury, a doctor can determine your condition through diagnostic testing.

In most herniated disk cases, a physical exam and a medical history are enough to lead to a diagnosis.

However, when a doctor suspects another condition or needs to see how the injury might affect your nerves, there can be orders for one or more of the following tests.

  • Imaging tests such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs)
  • Nerve tests such as electromyograms and nerve conduction studies

Once you have a diagnosis of a herniated disk and your medical team understands the severity of your injury, you can begin your treatment plan. This might include medications, orders to rest and stay home from work, physical therapy, and possibly surgery.

No matter what treatment you need, it can be inconvenient and costly. You want to discuss your opportunities for compensation with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

How Much Is a Herniated Disk Car Accident Worth?

Nobody knows how much someone can recover from a herniated disk car accident settlement since many factors determine the amount a victim might receive. Victims are best off consulting an experienced herniated disk case attorney who can better provide an estimated case value once the victim explains the complete circumstances of their case.

These factors will come into play:

  • The severity of the herniated disk injury
  • The medical treatment necessary for the injury
  • How the injury affects a victim’s personal or professional life

Depending on how severe a herniated disk injury is, a victim can deal with complications that include chronic pain, numbness or tingling in an arm or leg, and possible inability to move an arm or leg.

Some herniated disk injuries can profoundly affect a victim’s ability to engage in work functions or everyday activities. When people can no longer perform certain aspects of their regular job because of a herniated disk, they can recover lost income. This is especially true if they must cease working for their previous employer and accept lower-paying jobs that are more accommodating for their conditions.

You need an experienced lawyer to evaluate the value of your losses and demand the appropriate compensation in your claim.

Who Caused the Herniated Disk Car Accident?

The amount a herniated disk car accident victim may recover depends in part on the identity of the party or parties that caused or contributed to the accident. In some cases, multiple parties share responsibility for an accident and legal liability for compensating the victim. Identifying multiple parties who contributed to the car accident may lead to higher compensation since a victim can file a car accident claim against each liable party.

Accident victims need to understand that most insurance companies tend to undervalue herniated disk claims and will thus not pay full and fair financial compensation for these kinds of injuries. You will want to ensure you retain the services of an experienced car accident attorney to help prove exactly how your injury impacts your life.

Limits on a Liable Party’s Insurance Policy for Bodily Injury Coverage

The party responsible for the car accident and your herniated disk will often carry insurance coverage that can provide compensation. Drivers generally must carry insurance with a minimum dollar amount for bodily injury liability coverage. Companies in the driving business, such as Uber and Lyft, may carry plans with higher limits that can more completely compensate for a herniated disk victim’s injuries.

Suppose a commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck, caused the accident. In that case, the truck driver or the driver’s employer might carry insurance policies with higher policy limits that will more fully compensate victims for their back injuries.

However, getting insurance companies to pay out can require intricate legal maneuvers, especially in a herniated disk accident with a high potential payout. For this reason alone, car accident victims should always consult an attorney. An attorney can estimate the value and strength of a case, which will help negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement.

Victims should not rely on an insurance company to tell them the maximum compensation they can recover for their herniated disk injuries. Insurance companies tend to pressure victims to accept low settlement offers before a victim has complete information to be aware of how much compensation they can recover. An attorney with experience in herniated disk car accident cases can thus get a victim a much higher settlement than they might obtain alone.

Even when an insurance company agrees to compensate you for a herniated disk injury, it will only have to pay up to the limits of a negligent driver’s automobile insurance policy. This can mean you recover far less than you need and deserve.

Your lawyer can work with you to explore whether other parties with additional coverage might play a role. Attorneys regularly identify other negligent parties with deeper pockets and a better ability to pay larger judgments.

Amount of Medical Bills From a Herniated Disk Car Accident

Herniated disks in the back or neck caused by a car accident often result in immediate and severe pain. Victims often go straight to the emergency room after the accident. In other cases, however, a victim’s pain may increase gradually over time, or a victim may only notice pain a few days or weeks after the accident.

Ideally, herniated disk victims should seek medical attention promptly after any auto accident, even a mild one, to ensure they get adequate treatment and preserve a record of their injuries. Prompt treatment can help decrease the ultimate effects of a herniated disk injury. Victims who seek medical attention long after the accident can still seek compensation for medical expenses related to their herniated disk, but they may face greater challenges in fighting for recovery.

Herniated disk car accident victims may rack up medical bills for:

  • Tests. Herniated disk victims may go through X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and nerve tests to identify where the injury stems from and what treatment is necessary. A victim who does not notice herniated disk pain until after the car accident may have to undergo more testing to identify the injury.
  • Pain medications. A minor herniated disk may require only over-the-counter pain medications. But, for many victims, over-the-counter pain medications are not potent enough to manage pain effectively. Patients may move on to cortisone injections, opioids, or muscle relaxers as they pursue relief from herniated disk pain.
  • Physical therapy. While physical therapy cannot eliminate herniated disk pain, it can help strengthen the muscles around a herniated disk, decreasing pain and improving mobility over time. Some herniated disk car accident victims may engage in regular physical therapy for a long time after the accident. Physical therapists can help victims walk through the right exercises and provide expensive physical therapy equipment a victim does not own.
  • Surgery. Surgeons can remove the herniated portion of the disk, leaving the rest of the spine intact and removing the cause of your pain. In some cases, however, a surgeon may need to remove the entirety of a herniated disk. Herniated disk car accident victims may need to pursue surgery immediately after the accident. Surgery can present risks, so a victim may start with other pain management methods, such as physical therapy, and pursue surgery if those methods fail.

For patients without health insurance, herniated disk surgery may cost $20,000 to $50,000, including surgeon, anesthesiologist, and facility fees. Additionally, many patients will require two to six weeks of recovery time and a back brace that can cost $200 or more. There will also be patients who may require second surgeries that may cost as much as the first, depending on the type of surgery required.

Physical therapy may cost $50 to $100 or more per session and add more to the total cost of treatment. Doctors often prescribe pain relievers and equipment, such as walkers, that can add more expenses.

Overall treatment costs can vary widely, and the above are only some examples of bills you might face. For most people, the overall cost of a herniated disk from a crash is much higher than the total of their initial medical bills. You do not want to risk losing the compensation you need, so never try to calculate your losses alone.

Work Missed Due to a Herniated Disk Car Accident

The amount of work a victim misses following a herniated disk car accident will vary depending on the severity of the injury and the victim’s job. Still, victims can often recover compensation for lost wages to some extent.

Take, for example, a factory worker who moves heavy objects and stays on his feet most of the day. Pain from the herniated disk car accident may prevent them from lifting and bending as well as before the accident. The longer they stay on their feet, the more their pain increases. Their pain prevents them from accomplishing their usual job duties, and their boss prefers that they stay out of work until they have a chance to heal and recover their usual capability. Such a worker’s recovery may take longer, and they may recover more compensation for lost wages.

On the other hand, a receptionist might encounter less struggle following a herniated disk car accident. The receptionist may find that, as long as they get up and move around every hour or so, they can complete their job duties without causing undue stress to their body. Their employer may allow them to make whatever modifications they need to manage their pain while accomplishing their usual job duties.

In this case, the receptionist cannot return to work even as they go through recovery. They may only miss a few days immediately after the accident and a few more days for treatment appointments. The receptionist may miss time at work to go to physical therapy, but their employer can adjust their schedule to make that possible. In this case, they may recover less.

Herniated disk victims should work with their employers to figure out options for returning to work, including whether they can work on a modified schedule, have accommodations provided to manage the pain from their herniated disk, or work from home during their recovery.

All people suffering from herniated disks should avoid any heavy lifting or sudden pressure on their back and repetitive strenuous activities while recovering from a herniated disk. Victims might avoid exercises that can cause pain or feel like they are making pain worse.

People who work regular desk jobs might return to work within a week following a herniated disk. Individuals with much more physical labor jobs, such as construction or warehouse work, may need to allow up to six weeks for better recovery.

Some people with herniated disks never recover enough to return to their prior jobs. They might have to give up a career they worked hard to build and earn less in their new position. Many experience lifelong, extensive effects from herniated disks.

Effects of a Herniated Disk Injury Can Affect Other Areas of Your Life

Personal Injury Lawyer Orlando, FL - Michael T. Gibson
Auto Accident Attorney Michael T. Gibson

Victims of herniated disk car accidents may also seek compensation for pain and suffering and other impacts on their life resulting from the accident. Herniated disks can cause a great deal of physical pain. Depending on the extent of the injury, one cannot enjoy their usual hobbies or overall activity. Some factors that may contribute to the amount a victim can recover for such losses include:

The activities a victim has had to give up or limit because of a herniated disk. A victim may have engaged in numerous athletic pursuits, such as running, martial arts, or basketball, before the herniated disk car accident. Pain from the herniated disk may destroy or significantly limit their ability to engage in those activities. A victim who was so active will miss those activities and may struggle to find new hobbies they can engage in with their herniated disk injury. The great loss for the victim may contribute to how much they can recover.

Herniated disk injuries can impact more than just highly physical activities. Depending on the severity of the injuries and the extent of one’s pain, a victim may find it challenging to engage in activities they once enjoyed before the accident, such as walking through the mall for a shopping trip. Such a significant activity limitation may increase the amount a victim can recover.

How social and personal relationships have suffered because of the herniated disk. As herniated disk victims adapt their activities and lifestyle, they may find their social and personal relationships suffer. Many friends may remain involved in activities the victim can no longer do. Many car accident victims struggle to maintain their social connections immediately after the accident.

A herniated disk victim may lose their ability to engage in personal relationships, such as with their partner or spouse, as they once did. These impacts can cause significant pain and suffering and increase the amount a herniated disk victim can recover.

Did you sustain a herniated disk in a car accident? Do you need help paying your bills? If a negligent driver caused your injury, contacting a car accident lawyer can help you decide whether you have a good case for seeking compensation.

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