The best way for me to talk about the value of a neck injury caused by an accident in Florida is to give examples of settlements and verdicts. I do so below.
I try to give my opinion in regards to each settlement to give you a better understanding of the amount awarded for pain and suffering in each case. If you are injured in Florida or on cruise ship and someone else, you should note that there are general settlement ranges for the pain and suffering component of each particular injury.
If you want to learn more about settlement values for herniated or bulging discs in a personal injury case, regardless of whether they are in the neck or back, you can check out these articles:
- herniated disc settlement values in Florida accidents
- bulging disc settlement values in Florida accidents
Ok, let’s discuss some settlements and verdicts for neck injuries. First, I will talk about some cases that I have handled that involve neck injuries. Then, I talk about neck injury settlements in Florida accidents for cases that I did not handle.
My Neck Injury Settlements
My Actual Settlement: $100,000 Settlement (Gross) for a driver of car that t-boned an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer in Homestead, Florida (Miami-Dade County). My client had a C5-C6 (neck) herniation. The truck cut off my client by making a left hand turn in front of my client. The truck was insured with Zurich Insurance Company. It was good that a relative of my client took pictures of the damage to the vehicles.
My client’s medical bills were paid as follows:
– My client’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on his own auto insurance policy paid $10,000 to his medical providers
– All other bills were paid from the net settlement after my attorney’s fees and costs were taken.
My thoughts: I would describe Zurich as an above average company in terms of paying a fair amount for a personal injury claim. I think that State Farm Auto Insurance or United Automobile Insurance Company would have offered less to settle this case because they generally don’t pay as well as Zurich Insurance.
If this case would have gone to trial, my client would have had to prove that he had a permanent injury in order to get money for pain and suffering. This is because my client was in a car in Florida. Having to prove a permanent injury in a car accident case in Florida is one of the things that can decrease the value of a settlement.
My case: $95,000 Settlement with GEICO where my male client was hit by a drunk driver in Miami, Florida and diagnosed with a herniated disc. Surgery was recommended but my client did not want to have surgery. Plaintiff did not miss any work as a result of this accident.
My thoughts: Cases where a drunk driver causes an accident are worth more than cases where the at-fault driver was simply careless. This is because a jury can award punitive damages in addition to general damages. Juries often are bothered that a drunk driver caused an accident. Check out some of my accident settlements caused by a drunk driver in Florida.
My case: $20,000 Settlement for a woman who was rear ended by a car (insured with Progressive) in Miami, Florida whose driver was cited for reckless driving. My client, a mother and wife, received chiropractic care for her personal injury. An MRI of her neck revealed a disc protrusion (herniation) which indented on the ventral (spinal) cord.
She also had multilevel disc bulges. The chiropractor stated that she should meet with an orthopedic doctor to discuss having surgery. Her daughter and mother were also in her car. I also settled her daughter’s car crash claim for $10,000. (M.D.)
My case: $16,500 Settlement for a man who was diagnosed with had a herniated disc after being in a car accident in Miami.
Appellate court says $10,000 for Pain and Suffering Only is Too Low – (Not my case)
An appellate court reviewed a jury’s verdict and found that awards of $5,000.00 for past and $5,000.00 for future noneconomic damages were shockingly inadequate in the face of uncontradicted evidence that the plaintiff had sustained two herniated discs, with accompanying undisputed past and future pain and suffering as the result of an accident. The case is Figueredo v. Keller Indus., Inc., 583 So.2d 432 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991).
The court did say that “on the other hand, the supreme court has noted that not every verdict which raises a judicial eyebrow would shock the judicial conscience.” Laskey v. Smith, supra.
The appellate court in the above case said that $10,000 was too little to give someone who sustained two herniated discs. In that case, there was no doubt that the Plaintiff has sustained two herniated discs. In most cases, the defense will argue that the Plaintiff’s (injured person’s) herniated disc(s) was not caused by the accident or incident in question. This can make a claim more difficult than if you had a broken knee,
The court also said that both sides agreed that the Plaintiff had pain and suffering before and after the trial. In many herniated disc cases, the doctor hired by the defense may say that the herniated disc that the Plaintiff had should not have caused any pain.
This “defense doctor” may also say that the Plaintiff will not have any pain in the future. The facts of the above case are unusual. The moral of that case is that where the is no disagreement that the Plaintiff has 2 herniated discs, and that he or she has experienced pain and suffering and will continue to experience pain and suffering, the award of pain and suffering should be worth more than $10,000.
Below are Actual Verdicts or Settlements (Not my cases)
Now, I want to share some other actual jury verdicts and settlements where the Plaintiff had a herniated disc as a result of an accident in Florida. The cases below are not my cases.
Actual Case: $550,000 Verdict (Not my case) for Pain and Suffering only for an adult woman who suffered a herniated discs and osteophyte complex at C4-5, C5-C6, C6-C7, as well as pain in her tailbone when she slipped and fell on a clear substance on a stairway at a condominium building in Orange County, Florida owned by the defendant. She said that the condominium association failed to inspect the stairway and fix the dangerous condition (the substance on the floor).
The condo association said that they did not know and that it was unreasonable for them to know of the alleged dangerous condition. Defendants also said that the woman did not provide notice to them of the condition of the stairway as required by Florida Statute Section 83.201. The jury found the condo association 60% at fault and the woman 40% at fault.
My thoughts: The jury awarded a huge amount, $375,617, for past medical bills. That leads me to believe that there were surgeries. The jury awarded the woman almost $120,000 in pain and suffering for each herniated disc. This is above the starting point that I believe fair for purposes settlement value for pain and suffering from a herniated disc in a Florida accident.
I have said before that the starting is between $25,000 and $50,000 for pain and suffering only. The case is Manzo v. The Sanctuary at Bay Hill Condominium Association, Inc.; Apogee Association.
Actual Case (Not mine) : $350,000 for Pain & Suffering in 2012 awarded by a jury for pain and suffering caused by a C4-C5 (neck) herniated disc for a 47-year-old male Palm Beach airline pilot who was rear ended while waiting for a traffic light. Plaintiff was awarded $200,000 for past pain and suffering and $ 150,000 for future pain and suffering.
The plaintiff’s vehicle sustained $340 in damage and he claimed he herniated a disc from the accident. He treated at the hospital and was let go the same day. He ended up having three epidural injections during his 4-month course of treatment.
Plaintiff said that he could no longer perform martial arts and said when he had pain, his blood pressure would rise, which would make it dangerous for him to fly as a commercial pilot. He did not take his physical (required by the FAA) and was not allowed to fly for almost 2 years. His orthopedic doctor said that he would need a neck fusion and that he would begin needing medical treatment when he is 55.
My thoughts: This verdict is impressive given that the property damage to the Plaintiff’s car was so minor and that his treatment was so short (only 4 months). The jury must have liked the Plaintiff’s orthopedic doctor and believed him.
I say this because the defense hired a orthopedic doctor who said that the herniated disc was not caused by the accident and it was not a permanent injury. This is a common argument that a liability insurer makes in a herniated disc case.
The jury believed that the plaintiff was really was injured because the jury awarded the plaintiff $325,000 in lost wages. That obviously means that the jury felt that the Plaintiff was justified in missing work. Another thing that probably greatly helped the case was that the Plaintiff was a commercial pilot. Pilots are generally is liked by the public and make good Plaintiffs. This case was in Palm Beach county which is a great venue for Plaintiffs which also helped the case.
Actual Case (not mine): $370,000 Verdict for Pain and suffering alone for a 57-year-old woman who had a 3 level cervical (neck) fusion, as well as surgery on her shoulder. She had a herniated disc in her neck. She was injured at Home Depot in Vero Beach, Florida when a metal rack fell on her neck and shoulder.
She was awarded $150,000 in past pain and suffering, and $220,000 in future pain and suffering. Read more about this injury verdict against Home Depot. The case is Simone v. Home Depot. The verdict was in 2008.
Actual Case (not mine): $192,000 Verdict for Pain and Suffering alone for an employee of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines whose injuries included carpal tunnel syndrome, a performed a median nerve neurotomy, neurolysis and exploration. She started physical therapy, but she began to feel intense neck pain radiating to her left arm. She had an x-ray and an MRI of her neck (cervical spine) that showed she had nerve compression at C4-C5 (in her neck).
She performed deep cleaning duties using a mop and bucket to clean the floors, which required her to use hand pressure to squeeze the mop. Even though she allegedly woke up and found her right arm was numb between the elbow and fingers, her supervisor allegedly required her to work in pain for approximately three days.
She sued Royal Caribbean in 2010 in Miami-Dade County, Florida and claimed the following:
- Failed to use reasonable care to provide and maintain a safe workplace.
- Failed to promulgate and enforce reasonable safety rules and regulations to ensure the health of crew members.
- Failed to provide adequate training and supervision of its supervisors and officers.
- Failed to provide prompt, adequate and proper medical care.
- Failed to ascertain the cause of similar prior accidents so as to prevent their recurrence.
- She also claimed the vessel she worked on was unseaworthy because it lacked a properly trained crew and adequate. manpower for the tasks being performed.
$27,000 was for past pain, suffering, disability, physical impairment, mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life. $155,000 was for future pain, suffering, disability, physical impairment, mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life. The case is Lavia v. Royal Caribbean Cruises; 10-22925-CA-02
My thoughts: This is a Jones Act case. Normally, in a case against your employer, you cannot get money for pain and suffering. But if you are injured while working for a cruise line, you can get money for pain and suffering under the Jones Act if you can prove that the employer caused your accident.
I wrote an article about the settlement value for pain and suffering of a hand injury where I said that the settlement value of pain and suffering for carpal tunnel surgery is between $25,000 to $50,000 but it depends upon the disability that you are left with.
Actual Case (Not my case) – $100,000 Pain & Suffering
In 2012, a 31 year old teacher was driving a car in Boynton Beach when was hit by a car that ran a red light. She was taken to the hospital and complained of neck pain. Her orthopedic diagnosed her with a cervical (neck) disc herniation at C4-5. She treated with a chiropractor. She complained of neck pain.
The jury, in Broward County, found that she had a permanent injury. She was given $100,00 in pain and suffering. $80,000 of that amount was for future pain and suffering, and $20,000 was for past pain and suffering. The jury awarded her $100,000 for future medical treatment. She was awarded $20,000 for past medical treatment which reflects the fact that she did not treat that much.
My thoughts: The $100,000 that she was awarded in pain and suffering for the herniated disc is about $25,000 more than the average settlement range that I use as a starting point when calculating pain and suffering. Because she is expected to leave another 45 years or so, the jury awarded her $2,000 of pain and suffering for each year for the rest of her life.
Actual Case (Not mine): $15,000 verdict in pain and suffering alone for a 42-year-old lady who had a cervical (neck) injury which required epidural injections. She was in a car accident in Duval County, Florida.
Actual case (not my case): $1,000 in past pain and suffering for a 45 year-old female housekeeper who fell in a Winn-Dixie Store in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The shopper claimed soft tissue injuries to her neck and back as well as headaches. She claimed to have fallen on a raspberry that was on the floor. Winn-Dixie argued that the floor was inspected shortly before the fall and nothing was on the floor.
Winn-Dixie offered $8,000 to settle but the shopper rejected it. $13,864 was awarded for past pain and suffering. The verdict was in 2001 and the case is Casteneda vs. Winn-Dixie Stores.
My thoughts: I am unsure how much of the verdict was for neck pain vs. has much was for back pain and headaches. It appears that a problem with this case was that the jury may have felt that shopper’s injuries may not have been permanent. I say this because the jury did not award any money for future pain and suffering.
If the shopper had been hit by a Winn-Dixie truck in Florida, then she would not have received any money for pain and suffering if she was not able to prove that she had a permanent injury. The same applies if she would have been hit by a Walmart or Publix truck in Florida.
I am not sure how much fault, if any, was placed on the shopper for not looking where she was walking. If fault was placed on the shopper, the entire verdict is reduced by the shopper’s percentage of fault.
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