The first case I tried for Miller & Zois 17 years ago was a herniated disc injury case. I remember it like it was yesterday. We got a $300,000 verdict in a case with a $15,000 offer that the defense lawyer seemed to think was a nuisance case because there was no visible property damage.
Since then, we have handled hundreds of disc injury accident claims. If another law firm has handled more herniated disc injury cases in Maryland, I’d like to know who that is. Our lawyers have spent a lot of time fine-tuning the science and the arguments to make at trial in these spinal injury cases.
I have always been particularly interested in verdict statistics in disc injury claims. Yesterday, I found some interesting data that looks at the median value of herniated disc injury claims based on the type of vehicle crash. The data provides two things: the median verdict and a probability range of verdict.
Of the two, I think the most interesting is the probability range. In this Jury Verdict Research Study, probability range is defined as the middle 50 percent of all awards arranged in ascending order in a sampling, 25% above and 25% below the median. In other words, it provides the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile of verdicts. I believe that for plaintiffs with a good law firm, who know how to prepare and try a disc injury case, I think the 75th percentile is probably the median.
Anyway, these are the numbers:
|Accident||Median||Probability Range||% of MVA Herniated Disc Cases|
|Truck Accidents||$208,341||$66,975 – $605,101||10%|
|Overall||$54,538||$17,575 – $180,017||80%|
|Intersection Collisions||$50,000||$17,500 – $136,745||19%|
|Turning Collisions||$47,781||$20,000 – $160,000||9%|
|Rear-End Collisions||$47,500||$12,500 – $140,000||35%|
|Chain Reaction Collisions||$40,000||$10,478 – $150,000||6%|
The first thing that really stands out is the gap in the range, which is particularly pronounced as you might expect in truck accident crashes. I’m also surprised at how relatively low the statistics are for intersection accidents.
They are all motor vehicle accidents. What surprises me is how much more the value of herniated disc injuries explodes when taken outside of the motor tort context. Look at these payouts by type of tort claim:
|Premise Liability||$219,410||$75,000 – $755,574||32%|
|Overall||$196,051||$62,400 – $750,000||20%|
|Business Negligence||$181,629||$51,177 – $688,000||59%|
Sure, you will have some serious injury business negligence and premises liability type cases. But you would think garden variety slip and falls would pull those numbers down. It makes little sense that a premises liability herniated disc claim would get more money than a herniated disc caused by a truck crash.
What Are the Real Keys to the Value of Value of These Cases?
The type of accident is somewhat important. But type and extent of the injuries caused by the crash or fall drive the value of personal injury cases. The biggest issue – bar none – is whether there was preexisting symptomatology. Does that mean you can’t win if you had a preexisting condition? Absolutely not. But it means the hill is going to a lot steeper to climb. The chance of your case going to trial is also much higher.
The second big driver is whether the disc injury is the exacerbation of a preexisting condition. What does this mean? Many people have dormant disc injuries where they have no symptoms until a trauma like a fall or an automobile collision. When you see words on an MRI report like spondylosis, spinal degeneration or degenerative osteoarthritis, you know that you have a preexisting condition. This is true even if you had no symptoms. People get very frustrated when they hear this because they “know” they were fine before the crash.
Pre-Existing Injury Cases
Acute injury cases are a lot easier to win (and settle) than claims for victims who had preexisting injuries. Insurance companies fight these relatively hard before offering a good settlement value. We file more of these cases than we settle pre-suit. Another point worth underscoring in these cases is that while the plaintiff’s credibility is essential in every personal injury case, the plaintiff’s performance at a deposition is an even more critical event. Why? Because whether the client with signs of degenerative changes (often a bulging disc) has suffered a serious injury in the collision will rest to a great degree on whether the insurance company and ultimately the jury, believe the story.
Again, to be clear, this is hardly an impossible task. The wind in these cases is usually to our backs if there is no significant evidence in the medical records or in the testimony that the victim had serious problems before the accident. But you still need to jump over the “oh, this would have happened soon anyway” hurdle the insurance companies will put at your feet. How do you do this?
In 95% of the cases we take to trial with this issue, we need the patient’s treating doctors to stand behind the patient and thin slice the difference between where the patient would have been before the accident and where the patient is now.
This is how you have to explain a preexisting injury case to a jury:
You can’t find that the victim was more susceptible to injury than someone else. You must convince the jury that this person could have lived pain and symptom-free on that cliff. But the defendant made a choice that pushed her off the cliff to a future of pain.
- The Value of Herniated Disc Claims (settlements and verdicts/trial statistics)
- More Average Verdict Data
- Examples of Herniated Disc Injury Settlements and Verdicts
- How Much Money Should I Ask for in My Settlement?
Getting a Lawyer for Your Claim
I do not think our experience in handling these claims is matched, at least not in Maryland. If you have a potential claim, give me or any of our trial lawyers a call at 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation here.