What Is a Herniated Disc?
The human spine contains 33 bones known as vertebrae. These include the cervical vertebrae (from the head to the upper back), the thoracic vertebrae (along the middle of the back), the lumbar vertebrae (running down the lower back), and the sacral vertebrae (at the bottom of the spine). In between most of these vertebrae are rubbery discs that serve as cushions. A herniated disc occurs when there is a tear in the outer ring of the disc (known as the anulus fibrosus). This tear allows the nuclear pulposus, which is the inner portion of the disc, to protrude, exposing the nerve tissue inside the spine.
An exposed nerve can inflict intense pain, frequently causing victims to lose balance and motor function. However, the symptoms of a herniated disc may vary depending upon where the disc is located. Herniated discs in the neck might result in arm or shoulder pain, whereas herniated discs toward the bottom of the spine might lead to pain in the thighs, calves, or buttocks. Sometimes, as in the case of asymptomatic disc herniation, there is no pain at all.
What Causes Herniated Discs?
Over time, the water content of the spine decreases. As a result, a disc can become more brittle and more likely to tear. Heavy lifting and exercise may also wear down the rim of a disc.
Additionally, blunt force trauma, such as the kind that could be sustained in a car accident, could tear open the rim of a disc or make an existing tear worse.
How Do Herniated Disc Injuries Occur in Car Accidents?
During an auto accident, a driver or passenger can experience a quick stop or an abrupt change in direction. Serious injuries could result from the force placed on the motorist at this time – for example, if a body snaps back and forth when forward motion is suddenly cut short by a seatbelt or airbag.
When this happens, discs that normally provide shock absorption and protection for the spine could rupture or become damaged. Victims of these types of injuries may require complex medical procedures and rehabilitation. Sometimes, the damage can even result in permanent disability. GWC’s car accident lawyers are committed to helping those who sustain herniated discs in traffic accidents by securing the compensation they need to cover their past and future medical costs, recoup their lost wages, and reimburse their other expenses.
What Kinds of Car Accidents Cause Herniated Discs?
More than 73 percent of car accidents result in herniated discs, with 69 percent of them involving lane departures, 21 percent involving rear-end collisions, 7 percent caused by head-on crashes, two percent stemming from rollovers, and one percent resulting from sideswipe accidents.
Regardless of the type of accident in which you have been involved, it is important to seek medical attention quickly because the injuries you sustain might not be obvious at first. Evidence of disc herniation may take time to emerge, and a medical evaluation will help you uncover and create a record of your injuries, which could be useful when seeking compensation later on.
Can Herniated Disc Injuries Be Treated?
Herniated disc treatments vary, and the kind of treatment received will heavily influence the type and amount of financial recovery available. Some of the most common treatment methods for disc herniation include:
- Diagnostics – MRIs, CT scans, and other diagnostic methods can be important tools for ruling out spinal injuries and locating ruptured or compressed discs that have not yet presented symptoms. It is crucial to keep in touch with physicians and maintain records of any changes in your condition in order to preserve the value of your auto accident claim.
- Prescription Drugs – Doctors may prescribe medications to treat the underlying pain from disc herniation. Victims can recover the costs associated with these drugs in a verdict or settlement, along with compensation for the decreased quality of life resulting from this pain.
- Surgery – Invasive surgery is often the best way for physicians to treat herniated discs. The expense of any surgery might be recoverable from the defendant’s insurance company.
- RehabilitatYeion – Herniated disc victims frequently require extensive rehabilitation, particularly after surgical intervention, the cost of which might be recoupable in a settlement or verdict.
What Are Common Defenses in Disc Herniation Auto Accident Cases?
Car accident defendants and their insurance carriers may employ a variety of strategies to undermine the value of a case. For example, a defendant may argue that a victim’s injuries were preexisting – meaning they were caused prior to the auto accident. It is essential that you see a doctor immediately following the incident to establish that it caused the herniated disc or any other injuries because a comprehensive medical history can help you cement a claim for damages.
The defense might also contend that the plaintiff’s injuries are exaggerated and do not merit compensation, an argument that must be countered by expert testimony from a physician. Additionally, a defendant could simply deny liability entirely and insist that the plaintiff was responsible for the incident, an assertion that might demand a rebuttal from an accident reconstruction specialist.
How Much Is a Herniated Disc Case Worth?
Each personal injury case is different, so it is impossible to know in advance exactly how much a claim for herniated discs or any other type of car accident injury might be worth. Nevertheless, a number of factors may influence the value of a personal injury case, including:
- Legal Merit – The facts of the incident need to support a claim of legal liability against the defendant.
- Insurance Coverage – The amount of insurance coverage the defendant has may cap the total amount that a victim could recover financially in most cases.
- Medical Expenses – Injuries that generate higher medical bills and other expenses might be worth more IF the treatment is deemed to be reasonable and necessary.
- Lost Wages – If a victim’s injuries prevent him or her from returning to work, the wages that are lost might be reflected in the value of a settlement or verdict, provided that a medical professional ordered the victim off work.
- Permanency of Injuries – Injuries that will continue to hinder a plaintiff’s quality of life on a permanent basis could result in higher compensation than temporary injuries.
The total value of any personal injury case can only be assessed once all of these factors are taken into account. Therefore, any victim seeking compensation would need to complete treatment or reach maximum medical improvement before an accurate calculation of his or her case’s worth can be made.
Car accident cases involving disc herniation are no different. Liability on the part of the defendant would need to be established, and how much compensation one could receive may be curbed by the insurance coverage available. Nevertheless, assuming that liability is demonstrated and that the insurance policy limits are sufficient, herniated disc cases could potentially prove more valuable than cases involving other types of injuries.
Herniated discs frequently require surgical correction. These surgeries, which could include lumbar fusions, laminectomies, and anterior cervical discectomies, may cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to perform. Disc herniation may also necessitate pre- and post-surgical physical therapy, the use of expensive assistive devices, and other forms of treatment for the patient to recover fully, all of which could significantly increase the bills associated with herniated disc injuries.
Depending on the type of work they do, disc herniation patients may also find themselves unable to perform the duties of their jobs while they recover from their injuries. Moreover, herniated discs might inflict chronic pain and impairment regardless of how much treatment a victim receives, leading to a permanent reduction in the sufferer’s quality of life. A capable car accident injury attorney will work to make sure that any settlement or verdict for a plaintiff with disc herniation takes all of these economic and non-economic damages into account.
How Does a Disc Herniation Victim File a Car Accident Claim?
A car accident injury claim is a formal request for financial compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company – but compensation is never a sure thing.
The insurer processing the claim will first conduct an investigation in order to determine whether its insured was liable. Even if the insured proves to be at fault, the insurance company will want to limit how much it pays out. A claims adjuster may downplay liability or cast doubt upon the extent of any injuries. When this happens, an experienced car accident attorney could prove invaluable to a disc herniation victim.
In certain circumstances, the at-fault motorist may not have liability insurance at all or lack enough coverage to compensate a claimant fully for his or her injuries. When this happens, the party seeking compensation could pursue a claim through an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance policy, if one applies.
Regardless of the eventual source of recovery, the injured victim should always notify his or her insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. The claimant must provide the insurer with information about all vehicles and parties involved, the time and location of the accident, the chain of events leading up to it, the damages incurred, the name and insurance carrier of the at-fault driver, and the identities of any witnesses.
Pictures may also be helpful in a car accident injury case. When it is safe to do so, a claimant should take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident and the surrounding area, particularly before anything is moved, since the positioning of the vehicles can be essential when determining liability.
Finally, a car accident victim should always file a police report. Officers are trained to obtain the information needed to produce an official account of each collision. Injured parties need to convey their version of what happened so that all of the at-fault parties are identified.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
If you wish to hire a lawyer to help you obtain compensation for your herniated discs, it will cost you nothing up front. The car accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. Only if we obtain a successful outcome on your behalf will we receive payment, typically in the form of a percentage of your verdict or settlement, along with reimbursement for our expenses.
This mutually beneficial arrangement incentivizes GWC to get you the most money possible because the more you get paid, the more we get paid. It also spares you additional worries and expenses at a time when you may least be able to afford them so that you can focus on what matters most – healing from your injuries.
Car Accident Lawyers Working for You
It is important to build the strongest case you can for your car accident claim in order to obtain full financial compensation for your injuries, including herniated discs. For this reason, disc herniation victims frequently turn to the skilled car accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers.
With more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients, GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. Our highly motivated injury attorneys will stop at nothing to make sure that you and your family get the justice you deserve.
Contact GWC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer. You may call our office at (312) 999-9999 or click here to chat with a representative at any time.