Metro Verdicts Monthly’s graph in this month’s issue is median settlements and verdicts in cervical (neck) herniated disc cases in Maryland, Washington, D.C, and Virginia. The median cervical herniated disc case in Maryland is $40,000. The Washington D.C. and Virginia medians are $50,000 and $36,000, respectively.
Settlement Values Vary Wildly
I always qualify this data with a “for what it is worth” caveat. In the case of cervical herniated disc injuries, it is a “for what it is worth” squared. If a person says they are an actor, there are a lot of different degrees of being an actor. She may be Meryl Streep or her signature role may be “Crazed Killer #12” in a 5-second cameo appearance in a B movie.
Herniated disc injuries are the same thing. Some people are walking around with cervical herniated discs that they cannot feel. For others, their lives are virtually destroyed by the injury.
The other problem is I do not think plaintiffs attorneys properly value disc injuries and, consistent with my post on Monday, lawyers settle these cases too quickly. Insurance companies are just too quick to shoot these claims down. But they change their tune when they know they are in for a fight.
This is especially true with neck injuries (usually between C4-C6) as opposed to back injuries because some herniated disc injuries are relatively benign. But the fact that there are some smaller herniations should not alter the value as long as the symptoms match the location of the injury.
What If My Injury Was Preexisting?
If I had a preexisting injury, how does it impact my claim? Good question.
|Our law firm has successfully handled scores of herniated disc injury cases, earning our clients millions of dollars on these claims. We know the science of these cases and how to present them to an insurance company and a jury. Call 800-553-8082 or get a free online consultation.|
There are two types of preexisting disc injuries: (1) those where the patient had real symptoms and treatment, and (2) those where the patient did not have any problems until the accident.
The first scenario can be a challenge. If you were having problems before the accident, we need to get testimony from your treating doctor that “thin slices” out the problems before the accident and the problems after. If the treating orthopedic doctor or neurosurgeon cannot do that, then that is a real problem.
In these cases, the insurance company has a long list of doctors who will offer the opinion that all of your problems stem from the preexisting injury and not from the car accident. These doctors usually write a report that summaries the plaintiff’s medical condition and then concludes that the patient had preexisting injuries that are the real cause of the current complaints of pain.
Insurance companies often designate these medical doctors as experts without every bothering to show the doctors the records. I just got out of a trial yesterday where the doctor was named as an expert without seeing a single medical record of the patient. We very successfully beat the defendant (GEICO) over the head with the fact that their hired gun who is a regular expert for them was designated long before he had ever peeked at the patient’s medical records. But the point is that as sure as day follows night, an insurance company can find an articulate medical doctor to tell a jury your prior injury is the source of all of your problems.
We have a jury instruction on this in Maryland that I’m pointing to in this picture (you can click on the picture to see the instruction). What it says, and most states have similar law, is that an injury victim should be awarded damages from making a prior injury worse. Still, there is no question that these cases are more of a battle and the insurance companies often make you fight to get your client the compensation she deserves.
But if you have a disc injury and you didn’t even know you had it before the accident, this is a lot easier situation. Many people have latent injuries that would never become a problem if not for the trauma of the collision. Insurance companies fight these types of claims hard, too. But we are almost always going to win these cases.
- Herniated disc settlements and trial value (an overview of disc claims in different types of motor vehicle collisions)
- 12 factors that matter when determining the value of personal injury claims
- Our lawyers handle serious herniated disc cases throughout the United States. Call 800-553-8082 to discuss your herniated disc injury claim or click here for a free no-obligation online consultation.