A Jury Verdict Research report this month found that over the last ten years, the national median award at trial in personal injury cases for a vertebra fracture is $112,537. Almost two-thirds of the cases in the study were motor vehicle accidents, which is the leading cause of spinal injuries in this country. Not surprisingly, the median award for multiple vertebrae fractures is almost double the single vertebra amount, $207,000.
When I first read this report I assumed the numbers were low because they excluded cases where there was a spinal cord or head injury. But apparently, 7.5% of the verdicts were in excess of $2,500,000, which means they have to include vertebrae fractures where the spinal cord was implicated or there was an accompanying head injury. Because of the proximity of the vertebrae to the spinal column, and because of the weight bearing implications of a vertebra injury, I assumed this number would be much higher, but there must be more minor fractures to vertebrae without significant injury than I realized.
Examples of Fractured Vertebrae Cases
Here are some sample verdicts over the last four years from around the country. These alone cannot tell you the value of your case. But used in conjunction with other resources, it helps you to appreciate the most likely range of outcomes for your claim.
- 2014, Pennsylvania: $490,000 Verdict – A Philadelphia plaintiff was arrested after a bar fight and placed in the back of a police car. He claimed that the officers then drove around erratically after failing to restrain him properly. He sued the city after he suffered three fractured vertebrae, claiming that the erratic drive resulted in the injury. The defendant argued that the injuries actually occurred from the plaintiff banging his head against a holding cell door while intoxicated. The plaintiff was able to return to his construction position. Eventually, the defendant settled for $490,000.
- 2010, Maryland: $10,500 Verdict – The plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was rear-ended by a dump truck . As the plaintiff’s car slowed for a yellow light, the defendant failed to observe the changing light. She suffered five fractured vertebrae and sought $10,500. The defendant alleged that the injuries were minor at most, and that she recovered to her pre-accident status. Plus, she had sustained back injuries in the past. The jury awarded a $10,500 verdict.
- 2009, Maryland: $45,000 Settlement – While the plaintiff was driving, a tractor trailer ran her off the road and into a median. She sustained two fractured vertebrae and had to be transported to a local hospital via ambulance. She pursued a claim against her uninsured motorist carrier, and settled for $45,000.
- 2009, Pennsylvania: $87,035 Verdict – The plaintiff was driving in a car on a two-lane road when the defendant crossed the center line, hitting the car head-on. The crash resulted in a fractured vertebrae, prompting the plaintiff to sue the other driver. The jury awarded her $87,035.
- 2010, Massachusetts: $600,000 Settlement – While the plaintiff was in the hospital, a nurse attempted to change the sheets on her bed. During the process, she caused the plaintiff to fall out of the bed, which fractured two of her vertebrae. She had to undergo corrective surgery, which then resulted in an infection and subsequent surgery. The parties settled for $600,000.
- 2014, Florida: $250,087 Verdict – The plaintiff was shopping in a Dollar General store when she slipped on spilled detergent. A child had caused the spill several minutes prior to the plaintiff’s fall. She was a 68 year-old woman who suffered fractured vertebrae. The jury awarded her $250,087.