If you are diagnosed with a bulging disc as the result of being in an accident caused by someone else, you may be able to get money for your injury.
What is a bulging disc? Can it be caused by an accident?
When one of your intervertebral discs in the spinal column is injured in your back or neck, the disc weakens and it can bulge or extend into the spinal canal. A bulging disc in your back or neck can cause pain.
A bulging disc can be aggravated by a car accident, motorcycle crash, truck wreck and many types of other accidents. If you are injured and someone else is at fault, you may be entitled to damages.
I know at least one orthopedic doctor in Florida who believes that people in their 20’s and older all have bulging discs. He does not believe that they are significant.
In fact, he reviewed an MRI CD for me in a case where my client was diagnosed with a herniated disc.
I will talk about the effect of this orthopedic doctor’s opinion later in this article when I explain how to calculate a case value for an injury claim involving a disc bulge.
Will Looking At Past Verdicts Help You Learn How Much a Bulging Disc Is Worth?
It may. However, one of the difficulties is that many verdicts (where the claimed injury was a bulging disc) also involve a herniated disc.
All things equal, juries award more money for pain and suffering associated with a herniated disc than they do for a bulging disc.
Thus, if someone got a verdict for a herniated disc and bulging disc, it can be difficult to know how much was awarded for the bulging disc. You will need to look deep into the court file and read the entire trial transcript. And even then, you might not know the severity of the injured person’s bulging disc.
Jury Says Bulging Disc Isn’t a Permanent Injury; No Pain and Suffering $
Without a permanent injury, the victim couldn’t be awarded money for pain and suffering. This is true for most, but not all, car accidents in Florida.
The victim didn’t have any lower back pain before this crash. This is usually a good for the victim’s case.
The verdict was in December 2014. The case no. is 16:2012-CA-11284.
Settlement Value for Pain and Suffering Component of a Bulging disc
If you have a bulging disc from as the result of an accident, you may be asking yourself:
Although every case is different, in Florida I use $10,000 to $15,000 as the starting point for settlement purposes of the full value of the pain and suffering component only of a bulging disc.
If you have a significant resultant disability, then I increase that the full value. I am only speaking about settlements in Florida when I talk about the above mentioned settlement range.
The low-end of this settlement range is for minimal treatment and if there are limitations on your activities.
The higher end of the range is for a significant resultant disability, more treatment and/or more limitations on your activities of daily living. Individuals who receive a longer amount of treatment may get closer to the upper range or above for the pain and suffering component.
Past Jury Verdicts May Tell You Pain and Suffering Component
Adjusters and attorneys may look at past jury verdicts to determine the likely pain and suffering value for a bulging disc. In the last 10 years or longer, insurance companies have also looked at past settlements.
Over 87 important factors can affect the settlement value of a case where the claimed injury is a bulging disc.
That settlement range above is the full value and does not include any of the 87 factors that can result in a reduction of the full value of a Florida injury case involving a bulging disc.
On extremely rare occasions in Florida, an injured accident victims have received over $100,000 for pain and suffering for a bulging disc. Do not expect the insurance company to offer anywhere near that kind of money for the pain and suffering component of a case.
This article does not apply to a workers compensation case against your employer if you are injured while working.
If you are injured while working, but you have a case against someone other than your employer, then this article applies to the portion of your case against the third party.
Bulging Disc in a Florida Auto Accident Case May be Worth Less than Other Accident Cases
In certain Florida car accident cases, the injured person must prove that he or she suffered a threshold injury in order to recover money for pain and suffering. Defense doctors will often, if not always, say that a bulging disc is not a permanent injury.
In certain Florida car accident cases, if the jury believes that the injured person’s bulging disc is not a permanent injury, he or she will not get any money for pain and suffering.
Liability claims adjusters know this, and it is one of the reasons for low offers in certain Florida car accident cases where the claimed injury is a bulging disc.
Online Settlement Calculators for Florida Bulging Disc Cases
The difficulty of meeting the threshold injury requirement is one of the reasons that I strongly suggest that you do not value the pain and suffering component of your bulging disc based on an online settlement calculator.
In fact, at this time my Florida injury and car accident calculator does not work for a bulging disc injury because of the huge possibility that pain and suffering may not be awarded.
I do plan on adding the option for a user to select a bulging disc as his or her injury in my Florida injury claim calculator for non-motor vehicle accident cases.
That being said, you can still have a great case if someone’s negligence caused your bulging disc in a Florida car accident. Every case is fact specific. There are many other reasons why settlement calculators may not work for Florida injury cases.
$260K Settlement for Uber Driver’s Disc Protrusions and Lamina Fracture
Here is a video about this $260K settlement:
The Uber driver claimed that the accident caused or aggravated his disc protrusions. The two disc protrusions were in his lower back. He also had a lamina fracture of his T3 vertebrae in his upper back.
He did not have surgery for his injuries. Here is the actual crash diagram from the police report:
My client, Ray, was an Uber driver who was engaged in an Uber ride. He was in Vehicle 2 in the above diagram. He had a passenger at the time of the crash.
A company van (vehicle #1 in the diagram) was heading in the opposite direction. The van made a left hand turn.
The front of the van collided with the left driver side of the Uber driver’s car. You can see the damage to the car that Ray was driving (below):
The van wasn’t as badly damaged. Check out the photo below:
Here is a photo of the Uber driver laying in his hospital bed:
CNA (American Casualty Company of Reading, Pennsylvania) insured the at fault van. CNA paid the $260K settlement.
Here is CNA’s settlement check:
Driver Gets $100,000 for Bulging Discs and Other Injuries
See a $100,000 settlement for a lady hit by a car in North Miami Beach. She said the crash worsened her pre-existing bulging discs and herniated discs.
$75,000 Settlement For Bulging Disc and Knee Surgery From Car Accident
A car made a left hand turn in front of the car that Yasi was driving. They crashed.
The other car’s driver received a ticket for failing to yield the right of way. Progressive insured the at fault driver.
Therefore, our client was an insured under the UM policy.
She lower back pain. Yasi also had epidural injections to a bulging disc in her lower back.
Our client lived in Miami, Florida. She owned a car at the time of the accident. State Farm insured it.
Driver Gets $57,000 Settlement for Bulging Disc from Car Crash
A police officer suffered a back injury, while he was on duty. He was rear ended in a car accident in Medley, Florida (North Miami-Dade County).
The driver who caused the accident received a ticket for following too closely. State Farm Insurance insured the at fault driver.
They paid us the $10,000 BI liability limits. My client suffered a bulging disc. He was a candidate for a lumbar laminectomy.
At the time of the settlement with the Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurer, workers’ compensation for the police department paid over $17,000 in indemnity (lost wages) and medical benefits.
My thoughts: I have said before that as a starting point for evaluating the settlement value of pain and suffering from a bulging disc caused by someone else in Florida is between $10,000 and $15,000.
My client had epidurals, which generally increase a case value.
Pedestrian Hit By Car Gets $70,000 for 4 Bulging Discs and Other Injuries
$28K Settlement for 2 Bulging Discs in Lower Back from Truck Accident
Tom, a 51 year old, was driving a box truck on I-75 in Wildwood, Sumter County, Florida. Jose was driving an 18 wheeler truck headed in the same direction.
The front of Jose’s truck hit the back of Tom’s truck. The crash diagram is below:
American Inter-Fidelity Exchange insured Jose’s employer.
We also claimed that the collision worsened the pre-existing chondromalacia in his knee.
American Inter-Fidelity Exchange paid us $28,000 to settle Tom’s personal injury claim.
I was Tom’s personal injury attorney.
Passenger Gets $25,000 for Bulging Disc and Other Injuries
Driver Gets $25,000 for 6 Bulging Discs and Annular Tear
See why a driver got $25,000 after a pickup truck rear ended him in Miami. He claimed that the crash caused or aggravated 6 bulging discs & an annular tear.
Driver Settles Bulging Disc, Car Accident Claim for $21,000
GEICO paid $21,000 to a driver who was hit from behind. He claimed that the accident caused or aggravated his bulging disc.
The crash happened in Coconut Grove, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Examples of How to Calculate Settlement Value for Bulging Disc Cases
Let me give you an example of a settlement involving pain and suffering for a bulging disc (disc bulge):
Example #1 – Car Accident
You are rear ended in Miami-Dade County, Florida (or any city in Florida) by a car while you are stopped in traffic. You:
- are 18 years old and do not have prior injuries.
- own the car (a 2012 Toyota Camry) that you were driving at the time of the accident.
Your personal injury protection (P.I.P) coverage on your auto insurance policy may pay for up to $10,000 in your medical bills and lost wages. (Learn more about how to get your medical bills and lost wages paid after a car accident.) The car that you were driving is totaled. You treat with an orthopedic doctor in and get therapy for about two months.
Your pain has not gone away so the orthopedic doctor sends you to get a MRI. The MRI shows that you have a bulging disc. You get therapy for one month after the MRI and you still have occasional pain. The orthopedic doctor says that you have a 6% permanent impairment.
According to this doctor, you have a permanent injury which allows you to argue to a jury in Florida (most cases don’t get to a jury) that you are entitled to pain and suffering from this car accident.
This means that the most State Farm will pay you for your personal injury is $10,000 because only one person (since you were involved in this wreck).
The driver of the at-fault vehicle does not own the car and does not have auto insurance. Your out-of-pocket medical bills are $2,000.
Here, Assume That Pain and Suffering Value of Bulging Disc is $10,000
Let’s assume that the full value of your pain and suffering is $10,000, which is the low-end of the average settlement range for a bulging disc in Florida.
The settlement formula for this case is:
Possible Settlement = out of pocket medical bills + lost wages + pain and suffering
Value = $2,000 + 0 + $10,000
Possible Settlement = $12,000
I say “possible settlement” above because there is no guarantee that State Farm will pay you a dime. They can take this case to a jury and you could possibly get nothing.
Since the possible settlement is $12,000 and State Farm’s BI limits are $10,000, they may pay the $10,000 so that they are not exposed to a higher judgment for acting in bad faith.
Because you have to prove that you have a permanent injury in most car accidents in Florida in order to get money for pain and suffering, auto insurers may take a tough stance when your injury is a bulging disc.
They may hire a radiologist or orthopedic doctor who says that your injury is not permanent and/or that the bulging disc should not be causing pain.
Some juries believe the doctor hired by an insurance company and this is part of the reason that these auto insurers may be difficult to deal with in regards to personal injury claims involving a bulging disc.
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