Before I show you how to calculate the settlement value of a herniated disc case if your injured in Florida or on a cruise ship, I will explain what a herniated disc is and its relationship to an accident.
1. What is a herniated disc? 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 injured accident victims, who ultimately diagnosed with a herniated discs, are not given the diagnosis 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.
Below is an actual MRI of a herniated disc in the lower back.
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 (pinched) nerve. An image of a pinched nerve is below.
Herniated disc impinging on spinal nerve may be a precondition for an Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).
If you someone’s carelessness caused your herniated disc and it is impinging on the spinal nerve, this may increase the full value of the personal injury case.
A herniated disc impinging on the spinal nerve may be a precondition for an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). An ACDF surgery generally increases the full value of the personal injury case.
A herniated disc can lead to sciatica or back pain. The image below shows the sciatic nerve.
People that are injured sometimes call a herniated disc a “slipped disc”, though doctors do not use this term.
You can herniate a disc from an accident. I recently heard an orthopedic doctor say that you cannot herniate more than 1 to 2 discs from an accident.
Can a Protrusion be Painful?
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.
Settlement value of pain and suffering for a herniated disc caused by an accident in Florida, or on a cruise ship or boat.
This article applies to Florida herniated disc claims for many types of accidents. I wrote separate articles on:
This article also applies to the personal injury portion of your claim if you are hurt while working and you also have a personal injury claim.
This article applies to seamen or crew who suffer an injury while on a boat or ship. Some of this article does not apply if you only have a Florida workers compensation claim.
Radiating symptoms are known as radiculopathy, which means that pain is extending to the arms and/or legs. I do not accept this argument. Claims adjusters often tell me that my client’s case is not serious because he or she does not have radicular symptoms.
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).
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 that case 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 Florida for 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 11 reasons to hire a lawyer is that an attorney should know the fair settlement value of case when the case is ready to settle.
Find out how a Florida liability insurer may deny or minimize the existence, cause or severity of a herniated disc.
“Full Settlement Value” of a Pain and Suffering in a Herniated Disc Case
In Florida, for settlement purposes and as a starting point, I value the full value of the pain and suffering component of a typical non-surgical herniated disc between $25,000 and $50,000. The full value of the personal injury component is then added to the full value of the other components in the case.
The lower end of the above settlement range is when there is little medical treatment and little disability.
High end of the settlement value for the pain and suffering component of a typical herniated disc in Florida $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.
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.
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: $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.
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 point that I use in an operated disc case for the full value of pain and suffering is between $25,000 and $50,000 for pain and suffering only. But it may need to get significantly adjusted up or down.
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.
Florida Injury Settlements for Herniated Discs in Lower Back
Most herniated discs occur in the lower back. Therefore, the person who is hurt needs to be familiar with past Florida back injury claims and settlements that involve a herniated disc.
Herniated Disc Cases 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.
Some factors that can affect a Florida herniated disc case value are:
A. Gaps in your medical 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.
B. Prior neck or back pain in the same location as your current herniated disc.
If you had pre-existing injury, it can decrease the value of your case. However, you still may be entitled to damages that stem from an aggravation of a pre-existing injury.
C. Your age
Your age may impact the amount of your Florida injury 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. Below is an image of 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.
D. Treatment with a chiropractor instead of an orthopedic doctor.
E. Little damage to the vehicles involved.
F. 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. .
G. Defense Radiologist Says No 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.
H. You have had prior treatment at the same vertebrae level as the herniated disc.
I. Not wearing a seat belt.
Other factors may affect the value of a Florida injury case if someone’s carelessness caused a herniated disc.
High Limits of Liability Insurance
High limits of liability may increase the time in which it takes to settle the personal injury claim.
Failure to report an accident can crush a herniated disc case.
Be sure to report your accident as soon as possible. Failure to report an accident can decrease the case value.
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
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.
I have represented hundreds of people in my career. 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.
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.
Herniated Disc Cases Against Florida Walmart (or other stores)
Walmart has 343 stores in Florida. Find out if you have a case if a Florida Walmart or other store’s negligence caused your herniated disc in a slip, trip and fall or other type of accident.
Do I Have a Case if Disney’s Carelessness Caused My Herniated Disc?
In 2013, over fifty (50) million people visited Disney’s theme/amusement parks in Florida. These parks are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s negligence could cause a herniated disc or an aggravation of a pre-existing herniation.
You may slip or trip and fall. A Disney car, truck or bus driver’s carelessness could cause your herniated disc. Find out if you have a case against Disney in Florida if you have a herniated disc.
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.
Over 86 Factors that may affect how much your Florida herniated disc case may be worth.
The injured person should adjust the full value of the case by any of the 86 factors that warrant a reduction or an increase.
Did you suffer a herniated disc in an accident in Florida, or a cruise or boat? Do you have another type of injury?
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Over the past 11 years, I have settled cases for people who were injured in accidents in the following counties and cities: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach County, Miami, Kendall, Hialeah, Homestead, Miami Gardens, Miami Beach, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Miramar, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Port St. Lucie, Deerfield Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, Fort Pierce, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, Sarasota-Bradenton, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Palm Bay, Melbourne, Pensacola, Kissimmee, Bonita Springs, Lakeland, Tallahassee, Winter Haven, Gainesville, Ocala and more.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.