Average Disc Injury Verdicts and Settlements

disc injury verdicts

Disc Injury Values


JVR has done a national analysis of jury awards for spinal nerve with disc damage.

The study underscores is what every plaintiffs’ lawyer has figured out by osmosis if nothing else: age matters. Young people recover much better than older people.

The overall median award to plaintiffs age 18 and under was $43,997 while the median award to plaintiffs between the ages of 19 and 29 was $67,612. Plaintiffs between the ages of 40 and 59 who suffered spinal nerve with disc damage received a median award of $103,723, and plaintiffs age 60 and older received a median award of $100,000.

The interesting thing about the age numbers is that at some point you see they turn again as juries increasingly blame age for the injuries. I bet if you took this up to 70 and 80 you would see the numbers continue to drop.

Anyway, these are the numbers:

Year Average Median Probability Range
2004 $300,098 $30,188 $10,000 – $196,487
2005 $273,270 $60,000 $17,500 – $222,000
2006 $301,403 $72,500 $20,895 – $267,000
2007 $323,738 $50,000 $15,500 – $250,000
2008 $347,952 $75,000 $25,499 – $272,958
2009 $393,635 $100,000 $30,000 – $350,000
2010 $363,410 $69,452 $25,000 – $257,500
Overall $27,377 $62,000 $19,316 – $250,000

These numbers bounce around a bit but we have noticed no actual changes in values over the last ten years here in Maryland, nor have values changed much in 2015.

What I think jumps off the page at you is the difference in the probability range.  The difference in the two numbers is the low number is the 25th percentile, and the higher number is the 75th percentile.  There are so many reasons a case ultimately has the value that it does.  But the single biggest value driver, and I flush this out more here, is whether there are preexisting symptoms that might lead a jury to believe that one of the contributing causes is something other than the traumatic event that is the subject of the lawsuit or claim.  This is even more important than the age of the victim we talked about above.

If you have a herniated disc case with MRI or CT-scan that shows definitively that the accident caused the injury, and the injuries are significant, you likely have a case that will have a great value.  Sometimes, these are “policy cases” which means the case’s value is whatever you can find in insurance coverage in the case.

If you have a case where the radiology reports how preexisting injury or, worse, you had documented problems with the same disc you now complain was injured in the accident; you have a larger problem.  Is it one that can be solved?  The answer is a big “it depends” on a lot of factors.  Some of these cases go past that 75th percentile rung on the probability range because they had a credible plaintiff and doctors who could articulate why the accident is the primary cause of the victim’s problems.  But if the jury suspects that you already had this injury, and now you are trying to bundle up all of your problems and put them at the doorstep of the motor vehicle collision or other traumatic accident, you will have a tough hill to climb.

median verdicts settlements disc injuries

Disc Injury Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2020, New York: $2,000,000 Settlement. A 56-year-old fell 10 feet off a roof he was working on and landed on the ground. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he underwent minor treatment. He suffered C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1 herniations. The man also suffered C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, L3-4, and T8-9 bulges. Besides his disc injuries, he sustained a SLAP lesion, bilateral ankle derangement, a right ankle tear, and a left ankle contusion. He underwent three arthroscopic surgeries within a year to address his left shoulder and right ankle. The man also underwent physical therapy, rehabilitation therapy, and nerve-block injections to his lumbar region. He claimed that his residual pain and limitations prevented him from returning to work. The man also claimed that he would need to undergo arthroscopic surgery to his right ankle and surgical fusion to his lumbar spine. He sued the premises’ owners and the general contractor for failing to provide safe working conditions. This case settled for $2,000,000.
  • 2020, New York: $3,500,000 Settlement. A 31-year-old man fell 13 feet, landing in 3 feet deep water inside an underground vault beneath a sidewalk. Police removed him from the vault, and he was transported to the hospital, where the staff treated him for hypothermia. The following day, he visited another hospital, complaining of pain to his neck, back, and left arm. He was diagnosed with C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, C7-T1, T1-T2, L3-4, and L4-5 herniations. The man also claimed residual spinal nerve impingement and radiating pain to his left arm. He sought acupuncture treatment, chiropractic therapy, and physical therapy. These treatments failed to resolve his condition. He then underwent a discectomy to replace his C5-6 and C6-7 discs. Following the surgery, he underwent physical therapy and painkilling injections to his neck. He claimed that his condition improved, but he continued to suffer pain and limitations that affect his ability to perform manual labor. The man had not worked since the accident. He sued the vault’s maintainer for negligently maintaining the vault’s door.  His counsel alleged that the bolts that secured the door’s hinges were dislodged or broken. They argued that this caused the door to open, which allowed the man to fall through. This case settled for $3,500,000.
  • 2020, Washington: $40,000 Verdict. A 16-year-old student’s vehicle was struck head-on. She suffered an L5-S1 disc protrusion and cervical sprain. The teenager alleged that the tortfeasor negligently failed to yield the right-of-way before making a left turn. They admitted liability. A jury awarded the teenager a $40,000 verdict.
  • 2020, Texas: $25,288 Verdict. A woman suffered C6-7 and L4-S1 bulges after she was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. She sued the other driver for negligence, alleging that they failed to maintain a proper lookout, failed to maintain a reasonable speed, failed to pay attention to the road, and failed to timely apply their brakes. The tortfeasor admitted liability but denied that the woman suffered permanent or serious injuries. A jury ruled in favor of the woman and awarded her a $25,288 verdict.
  • 2020, Florida: $74,500 Verdict. A man was rear-ended while stopped at a red light, on his way to pick up his wife. He felt immediate neck and back pain but picked his wife up and drove home. The man visited a walk-in clinic the following day. MRIs to his cervical and lumbar spine revealed C4-C6 and L2-L3 bulges as well as an L3-L4 herniation. His doctors opined that he suffered traumatic disc injuries that were directly caused by the collision. He underwent steroid injections to his lumbar spine. The man testified that he continued to experience back and neck pain that limited his physical activities. The defense counsel argued that the collision did not cause his lumbar and cervical injuries. They also maintained that the man’s injuries were not permanent. The jury found that the man did not suffer a permanent injury, but they awarded him a $74,500 verdict.
  • 2020, Oregon: $35,000 Settlement. A truck rear-ended a woman’s vehicle at an intersection. She suffered C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1 protrusions. The woman also suffered sprains and strains to her cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines with radiating pain to her lower extremities. This case settled for $35,000.
  • 2019, New York: $150,000 Verdict. A pedestrian slipped on a patch of ice on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. He lost consciousness and an ambulance transported him to the hospital. The man remained there for about 24 hours. He was diagnosed with T11-12 and L3-4 protrusions, T12-L1 and L3-4 bulges, L3-4 retrolisthesis, lumbago, and cervicalgia. He sued the City of New York and the property owner for failing to timely and properly remove snow and ice that accumulated on the sidewalk. The man testified that he continued to experience residual pain that affected his ability to work as a barber.
  • 2019, Louisiana: $56,961 Verdict. A pickup truck ran a red light and T-boned a man’s vehicle at an intersection. He suffered C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, and C7-T1 bulges as well as a C3-4 herniation. The man alleged that the tortfeasor failed to yield the right-of-way and recklessly operated his vehicle. The other driver denied liability. A jury awarded the man a $56,961 verdict.

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