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Jury Verdict Research provides some incredibly interesting data this month on a topic of great interest to accident lawyers: disc injuries. Eighty percent of disc injuries that go to trial are from injuries suffered in motor vehicle accident cases. The median verdict in a disc injury case is $50,000. The average disc injury verdict is $340,328, which includes the 7% of disc injury cases where the award exceeded $1 million.
Many disc injury cases are complicated by either a preexisting injury or because of degenerative disc disease. (Defense lawyers blame spondylosis for just about everything, even if the plaintiff had never had so much as a back ache prior to the accident.) For degenerative disc disease injury, the average jury award is $51,678 ($11,482 median). For aggravation of preexisting disc injuries, the average award is $152,932 ($29,379 median). Obviously, you can drive a Mack truck through the differences in the value of disc cases on this single issue. Too often, plaintiffs’ lawyers allow defense lawyers to frame the issue this way. How you explain these cases to a jury really matters.
The one thing unclear is how the study determined between whether the disc injury was a preexisting injury. The victim’s treating doctor and insurance company’s doctor frequently disagree on this point, particularly when the patient is over 40 years-old. There are some defense doctors who remain convinced that every injury you get after high school has to be an exacerbation of a preexisting injury.
The difference in the values between bulging/protruding disc versus a herniated or ruptured disc was rather pronounced. For bulging/protruding discs, the average jury award was $140,311 ($31,000 median). The average jury award for herniated or ruptured discs was $413,917 ($60,000 median).
Obviously, you cannot extrapolate from this data the settlement or trial value of an individual accident case. But seeing relative data for different types of disc injury cases does provide at least a small piece of the complex puzzle of valuing disc injury cases claims.
- A 2013 post that lays out the median and average verdicts for all types of disc injury cases.
- Herniated Disc Cases (trial and settlement value)
- Cervical Herniated Disc Values (median value in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. for disc herniations in the neck)
- Herniated Disc Cases (even more on trial and settlement value of these cases)