Updated on 8-13-14
If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc from an accident caused by someone else, the goal is to get compensated fairly for your injury.
Before I show you how to calculate the settlement value of a herniated disc case in Florida, I will explain what a herniated disc is and its relationship to an accident.
1. What is a herniated disc is? Is it related to an accident?
A herniated disc is a spinal injury. It is a disc in your spine that ruptures. When it ruptures, the jelly like center of the disc leaks and irritates the surrounding nerves. You can get a herniated disc in your low back (lumbar), mid back (thoracic) and/or neck (cervical).
You may see the term “axial” pain in your medical records or on a diagnostic report (MRI or CT scan report, etc.). Axial pain is limited to the neck and back. Most clients who I have represented – who are diagnosed with a herniated disc – are not diagnosed at the emergency room. This is because emergency rooms generally use a CT scan and not an MRI when taking images of your spine. A herniated disc is found on an MRI much more than on a CT scan in most cases that I have handled.
Most neck or back pain resolves in about 6 weeks or so. If you have radicular symptoms, it means that you have pain that is radiating into your arm or leg. Radicular symptoms can include pain, numbness and tingling, and usually occur when you have a compressed nerve.
A herniated disc can lead to sciatica or back pain. People that are injured sometimes call a herniated disc a “slipped disc”, though doctors do not use this term.
You can herniated a disc from an accident. I recently heard an orthopedic doctor – at a webinar – say that you cannot herniate more than 1 to 2 discs from an accident.
Send Claims Adjuster CT scan and/or MRI films
If you are diagnosed with a herniated disc, you should immediately request the MRI or CT scan of your neck or back. You should then mail or send this disc to the claims adjuster. The claims adjuster may hire a radiologist to read the films and determine whether he feels that you have a herniated disc.
2. The settlement value of pain and suffering for a herniated disc caused by an accident in Florida, or on a cruise ship or boat.
Claims adjusters often tell me that my client’s case is not serious because he or she does not have radicular symptoms. I do not accept this argument. But adjusters generally offer more money if you have radicular symptoms.
You can learn more about settlements for neck injuries or back injuries in Florida regardless of the specific type of injury (herniated disc, bulging disc, compression fracture, and soft tissue injury).
This article applies if you have a personal injury case. This article does not apply if you only have a workers compensation claim. It does apply if you are hurt while working and you also have a personal injury claim.
It is important to itemize damages from past cases so that you can know the going settlement rate for a typical herniated disc. If you hear that someone injured in an accident settled a herniated disc case for $25,000, do not assume that every case involving a herniated disc is worth $25,000. For all you know the medical bills alone in the example totaled $25,000.
Hearing about a settlement – without a breakdown of damages – does not help you when you are trying to determine how much your case is worth?
But if the damages are itemized, then you can learn more about recent trends in the amounts being offered or jury verdicts for a herniated disc. If you know how much your case is worth, then you can know whether to accept an offer by the liability insurer. One of the many reasons to hire a lawyer is that an attorney should know the fair settlement value of case when the case is ready to settle.
I wrote an article on “full value” of a personal injury case which talks about what the word “full value” means. I also wrote a good article about dealing with a liability insurer who is denying or minimizing the existence, cause or severity of a herniated disc.
“Full Settlement Value” of a Pain and Suffering in a Herniated Disc Case
In Florida, the full value of pain and suffering component of a typical herniated disc is generally worth between $25,000 and $50,000. In most but not all car accidents in Florida, you have to prove that you have a permanent injury in order to get any money for pain and suffering.
If you search past jury verdicts for cases in Florida where the claimed injury is a herniated disc, you will note that many of those verdicts do not award any money for pain and suffering. This is because the defense doctor has convinced the jury that the Plaintiff’s herniated disc is not a permanent injury and that it will not cause pain.
You may not get one penny for your case if there is no bodily injury (BI) liability insurance or uninsured motorist (UM) insurance available. If the injured person is an insured on an auto insurance policy that provides UM coverage, then the injured person might be entitled to damages.
The lower end of the above settlement range is when there is little medical treatment and little disability.
Higher end of the settlement range $50,000
The higher end of the range is when the treatment is longer and you are left with more of a disability. On the other hand, if another person or company did something severe (such as drunk driving) and caused your accident, the value of a case involving a herniated disc can significantly increase. If you are left with a serious disability due to your herniated disc, the full value of pain and suffering can increase above the $50,000 mentioned above.
3. How to calculate how much your case could be worth if you have a herniated disc.
The best way to explain how much your case may be worth (if you have a herniated disc caused by an accident in Florida where someone else is at-fault) is to give an example.
You are 18 years old and you are rear ended while stopped in your car on the Palmetto Expressway in Miami, Florida. The other driver admits fault. He admits that you were stopped at the time that he hit you from behind. There is a lot of damage to the back of your car.
A CT scan at the hospital shows that you have a herniated disc in your neck or back. You have no prior history of complaints of neck or back pain. As a result, you treat with an orthopedic doctor for about three months.
After treatment, the orthopedic doctor says that your herniated disc is a permanent injury and you will need treatment each year when you have pain. The BI liability insurance company hires a radiologist who reviews the CT scan and agrees that you do have a herniated disc and that it may have been caused by this car accident. A jury can award you money for pain and suffering from a car accident if you have a permanent injury.
You have a Florida auto insurance policy so the car that you were driving at the time of the accident automatically comes with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. You send a letter to your insurer’s address as listed with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation so that you can put them on notice of the claim. You understand who pays your medical bills in a car accident in Florida and you report the claim to your auto insurer. P.I.P. paid $10,000 to your medical providers. All of the doctors that treated you charged reasonable amounts. You are left owing $2,000 in medical bills. You feel pretty good after your treatment is finished and you can do everything that you could before the accident. You did not miss any work from this accident. The settlement formula is:
Possible Settlement = Medical Bills Owed + Lost Wages + Pain and Suffering
Possible Settlement = $2,000 + 0 + $25,000
Possible Settlement = $27,000
I chose $25,000 as the amount for pain and suffering because it is on the low-end of the settlement range for the full value of pain and suffering in a personal injury case where the injury is a herniated disc. Two reasons why:
1. Your treatment was minimal (very short).
2. You can do all the activities that you could before the accident.
If the at-fault driver does not have any BI insurance and there is no UM/UIM insurance available, you may not get one penny (even if your case is worth $27,000).
If there is only $10,000 in BI insurance and no UM, you may only get $10,000. If there is $10,000 in BI and $10,000 in UIM, you may only get $20,000 even though your case may be worth $27,000. If there is a combined $30,000 between BI and UIM, you may be able get somewhere around $27,000.
The above discussion and example give the range of the full value for pain and suffering for a herniated disc caused by an accident in Florida. The reality is that in most cases where the claimant (person making a claim for personal injury) has a herniated disc, he or she will not get the full value for his or her pain and suffering that is described above.
4. Factors that may affect that how much your herniated disc case may be worth.
The same factors that affect the value of every personal injury case apply in a herniated disc case. Some of them are:
You did not report the accident or incident when it happened.
Example: Let’s assume that you were exiting the booth of a restaurant (e.g. McDonald’s, Subway, Denny’s, etc.) in Miami, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale or any other city in Florida and the booth tipped up in the air and sent you flying to the floor. Maybe you slipped and fell on water or a grape on the floor of Publix or Walmart in Homestead or Coral Gables. You have some neck or back pain, but it is not horrible.
You didn’t report the incident to any restaurant employees or the manager. You left the restaurant or store and went to the urgent care or emergency room a few hours later or the next day. The hospital tells you to follow-up with an orthopedic doctor for your neck or back pain. You go to the doctor and he refers you to get an MRI on your neck or back. Let’s assume that it shows that you have a herniated disc in your neck or back.
After you report this incident to the restaurant, supermarket or Walmart, they will most likely report this to their insurance company. The claims adjuster will probably discount (reduce) the value of your case 25-50% because you did not report the incident/accident to the restaurant when it happened.
So let’s say that the full value of a herniated disc is $25,000 to $50,000. You should expect the claims adjuster to reduce this value by 25-50%. If you make a good witness (you are very honest, calm and friendly) we can reduce the value by 25%. If you are less trustworthy, perhaps the claims adjuster will reduce how much your case is worth by 50%.
The formula below will show you how this works. The formula below also assumes that there are no other things that make the settlement value of your case worth less. This formula also assumes that there were no independent witnesses or surveillance/video cameras that captured the incident/accident.
As a starting point, I use a settlement range of $25,000 to $50,000 for the full value of the pain and suffering component a disc herniation from an accident in Florida, or on a cruise ship or boat. Let’s use a figure that is in the higher end of the range, $40,000, for this example:
Case may be worth = Full value x (100% – X% reduction because you didn’t report incident)
Case may be worth = $40,000 x (100 – 25%)
Case may be worth = $40,000 x (75%)
Case may be worth = $30,000
Again this is just an example and there are so many factors that can affect how much your case is worth, that I suggest hiring an injury attorney to help you. I am an accident lawyer serving Florida. I want to represent you if you were injured in any city in Florida or on a cruise ship, including but not limited to Miami, Hialeah, Homestead, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, Miramar, Coral Gables and others.
The insurance company for the at-fault party has high liability insurance limits and is not afraid of a bad faith lawsuit.
You have had an accident before where you claimed neck or back pain in the same location as your current herniated disc.
You have a history of working in manual labor jobs (construction worker, etc.).
The insurance company may say that your herniated disc is the result of your hard labor, including but not limited to heavy lifting. They may deny that the accident caused your herniated disc. .
There are gaps in your treatment.
Gaps in your medical treatment include waiting a long time before your first medical appointment or waiting long periods of time between medical visits.
Your age may impact the amount of your settlement. This is, in part because, there was a study where an MRI was given sixty-seven individuals who had never had low-back pain, sciatica, or neurogenic claudication.
• About 30% of the subjects were found to have a substantial abnormality.
• Less than sixty years old, 20 per cent had a herniated nucleus pulposus and one had spinal stenosis.
• Sixty years old or older, the findings were abnormal on about 57 per cent of the scans.
• degeneration or bulging of a disc at least one lumbar level in 35% of between 20-39 years old and in all but one of the 60-80 yr. olds
So as you can see, even though those individuals never had low-back pain, sciatica, or neurogenic claudication, many of them still had issues.
You treat with a chiropractor instead of an orthopedic doctor.
There is little damage to your car.
The radiologist (doctor who reads the MRI) hired by the BI/UM insurance company says that you do not have a herniated disc.
Often times, the radiologist hired by the insurance company for the at-fault person or company will say that you have a disc bulge and not a herniated disc. Bulging disc settlement values are generally less than the settlement value of a herniated disc.
You have had prior treatment at the same level of the herniated disc.
You are partially at fault for the accident.
If a car accident, you were not wearing your seatbelt.
Doctor says not permanent injury.
In a motor vehicle accident, the radiologist, orthopedic doctor, or neurologist hired by the insurance company may say that your herniated disc is not a permanent injury. If this happens, then the liability insurer knows that a jury may not believe that your injury is permanent. This is true even if your doctor says your herniated disc is a permanent injury. In most motor vehicle accidents in Florida, you need a permanent injury to get money for pain and suffering.
You are a convicted felon.
Even though you are a convicted felon, you may have a great case. Years ago, I was co-counsel (worked on the case with another attorney) for a convicted felon who was injured from a trip and fall. We settled the case for over $190,000. There were no witnesses to the incident. However, his friend drove him to the hospital. This settlement shows that you still have rights even if you are a convicted felon. That is just one of the many factors that are used to calculate how much your case may be worth.
A have represented a large amount of people who have had 1 or more herniated discs. I assume that some of them have been convicted felons. During presuit (before lawsuit is filed), I have never once had an insurance company use a client’s felony as a defense or argument as to why they should pay less.
But when you file a lawsuit, any past felonies are discoverable by the defense. You should be prepared for the defense attorney to use this at mediation (an informal meeting where you try to settle your case) as one of the reasons why a jury may or will award you less money.
You are Intoxicated, “Buzzed” or Drunk.
If you were drinking before the accident or incident, this may decrease the value of your injury case. I will give you an example.
Example – How Drinking Alcohol before Your Fall May Affect Your Case
Let’s assume that you have 6 beers or so in the 4 hours. You are getting up from a table in the outdoor part of the restaurant and you trip and fall over a curb that you didn’t see because it was painted the same color as the floor. Many slip and falls should be evaluated by automatically placing 50% of the fault on the claimant for not looking where he or she was walking.
However, there are some situations where the claims adjuster may place little or no fault on you, such as if you were walking in the grass and stepped in a hole covered with grass overgrowth. Another situation where you may have no or little fault is if you trip and fall on a little change in elevation (a little step) is an optical illusion because it is all the same color.
Since you admit that you had drunk a large amount of alcohol before you tripped and fell, we can assume that a jury may find you an additional 50% to 75% at fault for drinking so much alcohol before your incident and being “buzzed”, intoxicated or drunk.
For the example, below to keep things simple we’ll assume that you were 60% at fault for being intoxicated to the point that it may have caused you to trip and fall.
Now back to the example. Let’s calculate the possible (no guarantee) value of your case, whether in an out of court settlement or during litigation or trial. We’ll assume that your medical bills are $10,000 and your lost wages are $500. Let’s assume that your herniated disc has left you with a big resultant disability, and the possible settlement value of the pain and suffering component is $50,000.
Now I’m going to add the above numbers to the settlement formula below.
Settlement = (Medical Bills + Lost Wages + Pain & Suffering) x (1 – Your % of General Fault) x (1- % of Your Fault for Drinking)
Settlement = ($10,000 + $500 + $50,000) x (.5) x (.5)
Settlement = ($65,000) x (.5) x (.5)
Possible Settlement = $16,250
Now, if you take the exact same facts but you were not drinking, perhaps the possible settlement could be double this amount. Once again, as you can see, if you change just 1 fact in a personal injury case it completely change the possible settlement value of a claim.
That’s one of the reasons why when I get an instant chat, completed contact form, or phone call from a prospective client and I am asked “How much is my case worth?” my response is usually something like:
“Each case is different and I cannot state exactly what each claim may be worth. This initial consultation is to see if it is something this firm can assist with, if so then I can answer further questions at that time.”
To best estimate the settlement value, there are many questions that need to be answered in any personal injury case. I know of very few attorneys who will tell a prospective client how much their case is worth without extensively reviewing the case in detail, which includes looking at the medical bills.
Example #2 – How Much Your Case May Be Worth if You Are At Fault and Your Case Has some “Issues”
You are 40 years old. You are shopping at a store or in a business facility. It could be a place like Walmart, Target, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Home Depot, Walgreens, McDonald’s or any store or business in Homestead, Florida or any city in Florida. You trip and fall over a mat or rug that is under the soda machine.
The mat or rug was tilted up and it should have been secured to the floor. To keep it simple, let’s say that you may be 40% at fault for not looking where you were walking. You have neck pain at the time of the accident and you report the incident to a store employee.
You treat with an orthopedic doctor for 5 months or so for your neck pain and then he says that you will just have to live with the pain. You have an MRI and it shows that you have a herniated disc. You can basically do all the activities that you could before the accident.
You owe $5,000 in medical bills and you lost $1,000 from not being able to work after the accident. A few years before this accident, you had a few complaints of neck pain to doctors but you never had an MRI.
Because you had some complaints of neck pain to doctors before the accident, and you are 40 years old, let’s assume that a jury may believe that only 75% of your current neck issues are related to this accident. The rest of your neck problems existed before this trip and fall. To calculate the possible settlement value for the case described in Example #2, you use the formula:
Possible Settlement = (Medical Bills Owed + Lost Wages + “Full Value” Pain and Suffering) X (% of injury related to accident) X (% of fault on supermarket)
Possible Settlement = ($6,000 + $1,000 + $25,000) X (.75) X (.6)
Possible Settlement = ($32,000) x (.75) x (.6)
Possible Settlement = $14,400
You can see that there is a big difference between the possible settlement in Example #1 and Example #2. This shows you that it is very difficult to compare your case with cases that you read about online or that you hear about from your friends. As you can see, if you change a few facts in one case, it can easily cut the total settlement in half.
5. Settlements involving herniated discs (My cases)
All of my settlements below are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
My actual case: $150,000 Settlement (Policy limits) for a back fusion, which was the result of a Florida car accident. Client had a herniated disc.
My actual case: $100,000 Settlement for a herniated disc, erectile dysfunction and a possible meniscus tear when a car hit a motorcyclist. The actual MRI image of the herniated disc is at the top of this page.
My actual case: 100,000 Settlement for a herniated disc that resulted in back surgery (percutaneous discectomy) after she was rear ended by truck insured by Liberty Mutual.
My actual case: $100,000 Settlement (Gross) for a driver of car diagnosed with a herniated disc in his neck after he “t-boned” an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer in Homestead, Florida (Miami-Dade County). He had a C5-C6 (neck) herniation. Truck was insured with Zurich Insurance Company. The damage to my client’s car is seen in the picture below.
My actual case: $95,000 Settlement with GEICO where my male client was diagnosed with a herniated disc after being hit by a drunk driver in Miami, Florida. The drunk driver pled guilty for DUI. Surgery was recommended but my client did not want to have surgery. She did not miss any work as a result of this accident. This is one of my many car accident settlements with GEICO.
My actual case: $52,500 Settlement for a bicyclist who sustained a herniated disc and compression fracture after being hit by a driver of a car. The bodily injury liability insurer was United Automobile Insurance Company, who paid $10,000 of this settlement. USAA also provided liability coverage.
My actual case: $39,000 Settlement for a 37 year old man who was t-boned when another car ran a stop sign. Our client claimed multiple herniated discs. He had epidural injections to at least one of the herniations. The picture of the damage to his truck can be seen below. Although every case is different, the settlement value of a herniated disc case is usually (but not always) higher when there is significant property damage to the vehicles involved as opposed to little to no damage. Settlement Date: March 2014.
My actual case: $14,100 Settlement (Gross) a man in his 40’s who was diagnosed with a herniated disc after he was rear-ended by a drunk driver insured by United Auto. United Auto paid $10,000 of the settlement. State Farm paid $4,100 under my client’s underinsured motorist coverage in his auto insurance policy. This is one of my many settlements with State Farm Auto Insurance Company.
My actual case: $11,500 Settlement (Gross) a lady in her 40’s who was diagnosed with back and neck soft tissue injuries after she was rear ended by a drunk driver. United Auto insured the drunk driver and paid $10,000 of the settlement. State Farm paid $1,500 under its underinsured motorist coverage in her auto insurance policy.
Appellate court says $10,000 for Pain and Suffering only is Too Low – (Not my case)
An appellate court reviewed the 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. Figueredo v. Keller Indus., Inc., 583 So.2d 432 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991).
The court did say, “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.
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 the full value of pain and suffering was left out of the formula.
There is no disagreement that the Plaintiff has two 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 significantly more than $10,000.
6. Other Actual Verdicts or Settlements (Not my cases)
Now, I want to share some 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 cases that I handled unless I specifically say that it was my case. If you want to see some herniated disc cases that I have handled, you can check out my Florida injury settlements.
Actual Case (not mine): $1,000,000 Settlement for a person injured in a car crash who claimed a herniated disc was caused by the crash and this led to a having a disc fused. The driver who received the ticket had an non-Florida out of state auto insurance policy. Pre-suit settlement.
August 2014 – Actual Case (not mine): $1,000,000 Settlement before a lawsuit for a 42 year old man who claimed a neck fusion (c4-c5) and back fusion (L5-S1) were the result of a Florida car crash. The plaintiff was entering I-95 and was side swiped toward the end of the entrance “runway.” Nationwide Insurance Company allegedly said that the Plaintiff entered I-95 and caused the accident. However, Plaintiff’s counsel took the position that Nationwide did not have any evidence that the Plaintiff entered I-95.
Nationwide allegedly claimed that the injured person was 75% responsible for causing the accident. The injured man’s attorney argued that the only person who will testify was the injured man because the driver who caused the crash left the scene. A CRN was allegedly filed against Nationwide and it expired. The injured man was an insured under a big umbrella uninsured motorist insurance policy with Chubb Insurance.
The injured man did not have any prior neck injuries. He was never given a recommendation to get a lumbar (lower back) fusion before this crash. After this crash, there was a slight change in lumbar MRI. He also now had neurological problems going down the leg. With the subjective complaints he was recommended for the lumbar fusion. He went back to work doing AC sales within 10 days.
After the injured man’s attorney had a long conversation with the adjuster, Nationwide paid its limits. Then an additional uninsured motorist liability claim was made against Chubb Insurance and they were given 30 days to accept the $1,000,000 demand. They did examination under oath (EUO) of the man and he came across fairly well. Chubb asked for pre-suit mediation and that the injured man reduce his demand of $1,000,000. The injured man’s attorney told Chubb that he would not accept less than $1,000,000. The Chubb adjuster allegedly called 1 week later to pay the $1,000,000. This was a pre-suit settlement.
The total medical billed charges were about $300,000 before some of them were reduced according to the PIP fee schedule. The injured man had medpay coverage and health insurance, both of which paid some of the bills. The injured man lost his health insurance before the lumbar fusion so he signed an LOP.
The injured man’s attorney argued that the ACDF needed to be redone. He argued adjacent segment syndrome and that it was highly likely that adjacent segment syndrome would require additional surgeries in the future; however, he did not have this in writing. At the time of the settlement, the injured man was still receiving back treatment and doing very well.
Actual Case (not mine): $536,700 verdict for pain and suffering alone for a female nurse who had 2 herniations in her lower back (L4-L5 and L5-S1) from a motor vehicle accident in Duval County, Florida. The entire verdict was for over $1.1 Million dollars.
Actual Case: $550,000 Verdict (Not my case) for Pain and Suffering alone 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. The case is Manzo v. The Sanctuary at Bay Hill Condominium Association, Inc.; Apogee Association.
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.
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) : $350,000 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.
The 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. The case is Desouza v. Hurtado and Escobar.
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 an orthopedic doctor who said that the herniated disc was not caused by the accident and it was not a permanent injury. 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): $300,000 verdict for pain and suffering alone for a 46-year-old woman who had surgery in her lower back after she was hit by a Walgreen’s tractor trailer truck in Palm Beach County, Florida. She claimed a herniated disc and an annular tear after she was hit (t-boned) by a Walgreen’s truck.
The verdict was in 2004. The case is Anderson v. Walgreens. You can learn more about this case and Walgreens injury and accident settlements. Check out some of my truck accident settlements in Florida and car accident settlements in Florida.
Actual Case (not my case): $250,000 verdict for pain and suffering for 3 herniated discs (T9-10, T11-12, and L4-5) that were claimed to be from a shopper’s slip and fall at JC Penney department store. Her doctor said that she would need surgery for the herniated disc.
Actual Case (not mine): $200,000 Verdict for pain and suffering alone for 2 herniated discs from a motor vehicle accident in Miami-Dade County. The Plaintiff was an adult female. A male adult driver hit her. She argued that the man failed to stop at a stop sign and hit her.
The defendant was working at the time of the accident for his employer. The defendant admitted that he caused the accident but argued that the accident did not injure the woman, and if it did that her injuries were not permanent.
The entire verdict was for $260,000. She was awarded $6,000 for future medical care. She was awarded $54,000 for past medical bills. The case is Mendez-Ruiz v. American Security Group A-1 d/b/a A-1 Lock and Key, and Grasyon. The verdict was in 2013.
My thoughts: I mentioned that the full value for settlement purposes of the pain and suffering component of a herniated disc is between $25,000 – 50,000. The jury felt that this case was worth more than most insurance companies offer for pain and suffering for settlement for 2 herniated discs. In a case like this I would have expected the car insurance company to offer between $50,000 to $100,000 for pain and suffering and possibly less.
I arrived at this amount by multiplying the typical insurance company valuation by 2. So the Plaintiff got twice as much as the high-end of the settlement range that car insurance companies use for pain and suffering.
Since the defendant was working at the time of the accident, his employer is also responsible to pay the verdict. I believe that he was driving his employer’s car.
But as in any case, the facts of the case are so important that you can’t look at a case on a sheet of a paper. The Plaintiff’s testimony about how the herniated disc has affected her life is one of the many things that can greatly affect the value of any case.
This was a great result for the Plaintiff because in many car accident cases in Florida a jury finds that the Plaintiff’s herniated disc is not permanent. In Florida, in most cases, if a jury finds that you were not permanently injured in an auto accident than you don’t get any money for pain and suffering.
If a jury finds that your herniated disc is not a permanent injury, it is usually because the at fault person’s car insurance company hires a radiologist and/or orthopedic doctor who usually says that the herniated disc that Plaintiff has is not a permanent injury or was not caused by the car accident. The doctors that the insurance company hires can be very convincing to a jury.
I congratulate the Plaintiff’s attorney for taking this case to trial.
Actual Case (Not my case) – $100,000 Pain & Suffering
In 2012, a 31 year old teacher was driving a car in Boynton Beach when she 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, Florida, found that she had a permanent injury. She was given $100,000 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 is about $50,000 more than the top of settlement range that I use as a starting point when calculating pain and suffering for a herniated disc. However, the value of pain and suffering in each case is different and depends upon the resultant disability.
Because she is expected to live 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): $55,000 Verdict for Pain and Suffering alone for a man who suffered a herniated disc and rotator cuff tear when he slipped and fell on a Royal Caribbean gangway (walkway) when it was raining.
Herniated Disc Injuries Often Come with Other Injuries
In many cases where someone injures a herniated disc, he or she also has other injuries as well. The value of those other injuries should be added to the full value of your case when trying to settle it.
Now, let’s take a look at where or how some herniated disc cases happen and interesting things to know about these types of cases.
Herniated Discs from Accidents or Incident Occurring at an Apartment, Condominium, Townhouse or House
You may have a case if you herniated a disc because you:
Tripped and fell over a loose (unsecured) paver.
Tripped on a loose paver and fell. You need to show that the apartment complex or landlord knew or should have known that the paver was loose before you fell. Your testimony may be enough to prove your case. It may also help if you can get a witness to sign an affidavit (sworn statement) if they observed the loose paver before you fell.
Slipped and fell on water that blew in through the front door.
Water blew in through the front door and caused you to slip. Your case is stronger if you complained to the apartment complex management or landlord before you fell and they did not fix this before you fell.
Slip and Falls from water that is leaking from the ceiling or roof.
Slipped and fell on water that was leaking from the ceiling or roof and you were renting an apartment, townhouse or condominium. If you have a herniated disc from this happening, then you may have a case against your landlord. If you complained to your landlord, before your slip and fall, about the leaking ceiling and they did not repair it, then this helps your case.
Your case is stronger if you sent this complaint to the landlord in writing, particularly email with delivery and read receipt, fax or certified mail return receipt. The more times that you complained to your landlord or the apartment complex management company, then the better it is for your case.
Even if the landlord did not repair the leaking ceiling or roof, you may still be at fault because you knew that there was an issue that was causing water to be on the floor. Even if you did not see water before you fell, you knew that it was a problem.
The more times that you walked in the area where the water was on the floor, then the less your case is worth because the landlord or apartment complex owner/manager has a stronger argument that you were so aware of this dangerous condition that you should not have walked in that area.
Slip and fall while walking on a dangerous staircase
If you herniated a disc from a slip and fell while walking down the steps (stairs) in an apartment complex, condominium or townhouse, you may have a case if one of the things below caused your injury. You must show that the staircase was a dangerous condition.
– You can do this is the wrong paint substance was used and the stairs were too slippery.
– The staircase did not have a handrail and it should have had one.
– The staircase had a broken handle or the wrong type of handle.
– One of the steps was chipped.
– There step that you fell on did not have anti-slip stair tread (traction tape). This generally applies to commercial properties (private businesses). I don’t believe that anti-slip tread is required in homes.
– The height of some of the steps were of different proportions.
Trip and fall in a covered hole in the grass
I wrote a lengthy article about how to know whether you have a case if you trip and fall in a hole in the grass.
Herniate a disc from an injury at a clothing store like Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls
If you are a diagnosed from a herniated disc at one of these clothing stores, it most likely was because you slipped and fell or tripped and fell over clothing. In Florida, you have to prove that the store knew or should have known that the clothing or item that caused you to fall and herniate a disc was on the floor before you fell.
These stores have surveillance and hopefully surveillance shows that there was no one for 15-20 minutes in the area where you fell. You can then argue that the item was on the floor for 15-20 minutes before you fell.
At Banks like Bank of America, Citigroup and JP Morgan Chase.
If you tripped and fell on a staircase that had a chipped tile, you may have a good case. This is because it is easy to argue that the bank should have known that the tile was chipped. Chipped, cracked or broken tile doesn’t generally happen overnight. But the bank or its insurance company will argue that you should have been looking where you were walking.
On an airplane
If you suffered a herniated disc while on an airplane that was at a gate in Florida, departed or arrived in Florida, in was most likely on American Airlines, United Airways, Delta, US Airways and Southwest. Most of these cases are because a flight attendant pushes a cart into you or perhaps he or she drops a bag from an overhead cabin that hits you. You may have a case in the scenarios.
I have settled herniated disc cases in Florida against the following insurance companies:
- State Farm Insurance
- Allstate Insurance
- GEICO Insurance
- Progressive Insurance
- USAA (United Services Automobile Association) Insurance
- Nationwide Insurance
- Hartford Insurance
- United Automobile Insurance Company (Often sold through Estrella Insurance Agency)
- Farmers Insurance
- Liberty Mutual Insurance
- Metropolitan Life Insurance (Metlife)
- Zurich Insurance
- Kingsway Amigo Insurance (formerly known as US Security)
- Lincoln General Insurance Company
- Star Casualty Insurance
- Old Dominion Insurance (Main Street America Group)
- Star & Shield Insurance Exchange
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the insurance companies that I have had herniated disc cases against.
All of the above insurance companies that I mentioned “in state” insurance companies. I invite you to learn more about the insurance company’s – with whom you are dealing – reputation for paying bodily injury claims.
Therefore, if you have a herniated disc and you are dealing with one of these insurance companies, then the full value of your herniated disc case is generally worth less than if you are dealing with an out of state insurance company.
“Out of state insurance companies” do not issue insurance policies in Florida. I know an attorney who settled a herniated disc case which ultimately resulted in the discs being fused for $1,000,000 with an out of state insurance company.
There is a 4-year time limit to file a lawsuit against a private business in Florida who caused your herniated disc or other personal injury.
Do you have a herniated disc or another type of injury?
I have settled many personal injury cases in Florida and on cruise ships. Our office in Miami. We serve the entire state of Florida. I handle car accidents, truck accidents, slip and fall accidents and much more for people injured anywhere in Florida or on cruise ships or boats.
I want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. Call me now at (888) 594-3577 to Get a Free Consultation. There are No Fees or Costs Unless We Recover Money.
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