How Much Is My Back Injury Worth In a Lawsuit?
The back is an important body part as its central support structure. The spine is needed for many motions, such as sitting, standing, bending, or twisting. Unfortunately, many back parts can be injured in an accident, leading to instability, stiffness, chronic pain, or even paralysis, a loss of sensation and function.
Individuals who suffered a back injury due to an accident caused by another person’s negligence can seek compensation for the injury through the personal injury claims process. However, because not all back injuries are equal in severity or the likelihood of making a full recovery, the amount of compensation that can be received for this type of claim can vary widely. Reach out to a back injury lawyer.
Here is a look at some factors determining how much your back injury is worth in a lawsuit.
Types of Back Injuries
As explained by the Cleveland Clinic, a healthy spine has three natural curves that make the shape of an S and help to absorb shocks to the body that can cause it to become injured.
The spine includes:
- Thirty-three stacked vertebrae form the spinal canal, a tunnel that houses the spinal cord and nerves to protect them from injury. It should be noted that by the time they reach adulthood, most people only have 24 vertebrae, as some of these bones on the bottom end of the spine fuse during growth and development.
- Facet joints are made up of cartilage and allow the vertebrae to slide against each other for the body to twist and turn. The facet joints also provide the spine with flexibility and support.
- Intervertebral discs are flat, round cushions between the vertebrae that prevent them from rubbing together.
- The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist and—along with the brain—makes up the body’s central nervous system. The spinal cord is a messenger for the brain that communicates with the rest of the body.
- Soft tissues, such as ligaments, muscles, and tendons support the spine and aid in movement.
Any part of the spine can be injured in an accident. According to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, the most common part of the back to be injured is the lower (lumbar) spine. However, injuries in the middle (thoracic) area of the back or the cervical (neck) area are also common.
The types of injuries that occur include:
- Strains and sprains. A sprain involves a torn or stretched ligament that leads to pain, swelling, bruising, and loss of range of motion. A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon that causes pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and difficulty moving.
- Herniated discs. The intervertebral discs are filled with a jelly-like substance. In certain accidents, these discs can rupture, irritating nearby nerves and causing pain.
- Fractured vertebrae can cause symptoms such as pain, swelling, changes to posture, tingling in the arms or legs, height loss, and even bowel or bladder incontinence.
- Spinal cord injuries involve damage to the spinal cord and generally result in a loss of sensation and function below the injury site.
Many back injuries will heal without surgery. However, others will require surgery to give the sufferer more stability in the area or to address chronic or severe pain caused by the injury.
Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis of some of the body or even all of the body from the neck down. Complete paralysis means no remaining sensation or function in the area below the injury. Incomplete paralysis means the sufferer retains some feeling or voluntary movement.
Seeking Compensation After a Back Injury
Those who have suffered a back injury due to someone else’s negligence can seek compensation through the personal injury claims process. This process involves filing a claim against a relevant insurance policy held by the at-fault party, such as an auto liability policy, a homeowners policy, or a policy that covers liability for a business or property.
In some cases, claims can also be filed against the claimant’s insurance policies, such as their health insurance, personal injury protection (PIP), uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and medical payments (MedPay) coverage.
When a claim is filed against an insurance policy, the insurance provider who services that policy will assign it to a claims adjuster. The claims adjuster is an employee or contractor of the insurance company. Their job is to evaluate the claim, determine if the policy it was filed against covers such damage, and determine how much is owed to the claimant.
The at-fault party’s liability policy will review claims to determine the insured’s liability for the injury.
After the claims adjuster has completed their evaluation:
- They can accept the submitted claim, notify the claimant, and process the claim for payment. While this does happen occasionally, understand that the claims adjuster’s responsibility to their employer is to keep payouts on claims as low as possible.
- They can choose to deny the claim. To do so, they must notify the claimant and their attorney of the reason for the denial.
- They can offer a settlement to the claimant for less than the claim’s value in exchange for the claimant dropping any legal disputes on the matter.
Because insurance companies must pay for their insured’s liability for injuries covered by the policy and litigation is expensive and time-consuming for all parties involved, the vast majority of back injury claims will be resolved through out-of-court settlements.
The Type of Compensation You Can Seek for a Back Injury
The personal injury claims process affords those injured by someone else’s negligence the right to seek economic and non-economic damages. In the legal arena, damages means compensation for harm, and economic damages refer to compensation for the expenses of the injury.
Those expenses commonly include:
- Medical expenses. Back injuries commonly require diagnostic imaging scans, such as X-rays or MRIs, to determine the cause of the pain and properly treat the injury. Some back injuries, such as damage to the vertebrae or discs, will also result in surgery. Most back injury patients will have prescription medications and physical therapy during their treatment. Spinal cord injury sufferers will incur ongoing medical expenses throughout their lives to handle the cascade of complications accompanying this type of injury.
- Income loss for time missed from work as the claimant recovered from their injury. A study on work absences for back pain revealed that around 68 percent of workers suffering back injuries would return to work within a month, and around 93 percent would return to work within six months after the injury.
- Lost earning capacity resulting from permanent injuries that cause disabilities that will prevent the injured party from being able to perform the tasks of their job or—in many cases involving spinal cord injuries—will prevent them from performing the tasks of any job.
Non-economic damages refer to the impacts of the injury on the claimant’s quality of life, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of society and companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Factors that Determine the Value of Your Back Injury Claim
Because non-economic damages involve harm that doesn’t produce hard evidence, such as a bill for services or a receipt in many cases, determining the value of a back injury claim is quite a bit more complex than simply adding together the expenses that have been incurred.
When establishing the claim’s value, a claimant’s attorney will consider:
- The policy limits of relevant insurance policies. A policy limit refers to the maximum amount of coverage that is available through the policy. An attorney will look carefully at the claim and the policies held by the at-fault party and the claimant to ensure enough resources to compensate for the claim.
- The severity of the injury. More severe back injuries result in higher expenses in all damage categories. The sufferer is more likely to need a higher level of medical treatment, hospitalization, and even placement in a skilled nursing facility in some cases to receive needed round-the-clock medical care. They are more likely to miss an extended period of work or be unable to work. They also commonly face more impacts on their quality of life.
- The income the claimant earned before the accident. It stands to reason that the wage loss compensation needed will be higher for those at the peak of their career than for a claimant who is unemployed or retired.
- The clarity of liability. One of the main things a claims adjuster will look for when evaluating a claim is who was liable for the accident that caused the injury. If liability is disputed, they will often use this as a reason to reduce the settlement. However, when the at-fault party’s liability is clear, it is easier to justify the claim’s value during settlement negotiations.
Why Having an Attorney Helps You Receive the Compensation You Need
People often ask if having an attorney is necessary or if a claimant can obtain a settlement independently. It’s a reasonable question, given that most insurance agencies allow people to file claims online. The answer to this question is: To obtain the compensation you need to cover the expenses and impacts you incurred due to your injury, you need an attorney.
As noted, insurance companies use claims adjusters to look out for their financial interests. This means the claims adjuster’s goal of keeping payouts as small as possible directly contradicts your goal of recovering financially from the accident.
Claims adjusters bank on the claimant not knowing the true value of their claim or what the insurance companies are legally required to do when confronted with a claim. They can use tactics to devalue the claim, such as offering a quick and low settlement with an arbitrary deadline for responding or stating that they need to see the claimant’s full medical history while evaluating the claim. In reality, they only need to see a limited amount of information about the injury to evaluate the claim.
An experienced personal injury lawyer spends years obtaining the education and experience needed to assist the injured in the claims process. They understand the requirements of insurance companies and the tactics claims adjusters play. They understand the importance of ensuring that a lawsuit is filed before the statute of limitations expires to keep all of the claimant’s legal options available. An attorney can also utilize a team of legal professionals to help quickly gather the documentation and evidence needed to prove liability and justify the claim’s worth.
When a back injury claim is settled out of court (which is the resolution to most personal injury claims), the claimant is no longer legally permitted to seek additional compensation from the at-fault party or their insurer if they discover they didn’t receive enough through the settlement. Because of this, it is extremely important that the claim is properly valued and includes all expenses and impacts incurred. It is also important that the claimant understands how their claim is valued to discern better whether an offered settlement provides enough compensation.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help determine the value of your back injury and help you through the claims process.
Gabriel Levin - Attorney
Attorney Gabriel Levin is known as a tenacious fighter who protects his client’s interests as though they were his own; he has tried hundreds of cases and handled a large variety of civil matters, from minor injuries to the catastrophic. Mr. Levin prides himself on preparing every case for trial. While some attorneys view trial as a last resort, he prepares with the assumption that his client’s case will be decided by the jury. Clients know that Gabriel Levin is a very responsive attorney, keeps client fully informed, and always gets back to them in a timely manne
Average back injury settlements can range anywhere from $20,000 – $50,000; however, in severe cases, it is not uncommon for settlements to be within the $100,000 – $500,000 range, especially if spinal cord injuries were sustained.How much can I get paid for a back injury? ›
A survey revealed the average settlement comes in between $20,000 and $25,000 for workers' comp back injury claims. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates back injury claims cost an average of $40,000 to $80,000 including medical bills, wage loss benefits and more.How do you determine the value of an injury claim? ›
Minor injuries: their medical expenses are usually multiplied by 1.5 to 3. Medium injuries: the sum of medical bills is multiplied by 3 to 4. Severe or permanent injuries: the total amount of medical expenses can be multiplied by 5 or more.How much is a back sprain worth? ›
For lower back injury settlements like sprains and strains, the average settlement is between $10,000 and $50,000. Our personal injury attorneys have access to a nationwide database that helps them place a value on your case.How much is a pinched nerve worth? ›
What Your Pinched Nerve Car Accident Settlement Could Be Worth. As we have seen, many factors can play into a settlement amount. However, an individual that suffered minor or moderate injuries could receive between $10,000 – $80,000 in damages, depending on their accident expenses.How long does back pain take to settle? ›
Acute (short-term) back pain lasts a few days to a few weeks. It usually resolves on its own within a few days with self-care and there is no long-term loss of function. Chronic back pain is pain that continues for 12 weeks or longer, even after an initial injury or underlying cause of back pain has been treated.What percentage of disability is a back injury? ›
Many veterans with significant functional loss, pain, and difficulty working might initially only obtain a 10 or 20 percent rating. In fact, the average VA disability rating for back pain is only 10 percent.What is the average settlement for herniated discs? ›
Herniated Disc Jury Payout Statistics
The average verdict nationally in herniated disc injury cases is approximately $360,000. Settlement value often depends on the severity of a victim's symptoms. There it is. The average payout.
If you suffer from back pain and it makes unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.How long does compensation take to pay out? ›
After accepting an offer of settlement for a personal injury claim you will usually receive your compensation money within 14-28 days from the date of settlement.
The commonly recognized or golden rule of management of acute injuries is PRICE, which stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. The aims using these immediate first aid measures are to relieve pain, limit swelling and protect the injured part from further damage.How do I know if my back injury is permanent? ›
Signs that you will have a permanent disability include: Prolonged, intense back pain. Weakness of your arms and legs. Inability to stand for long periods.Do you ever recover from a back injury? ›
Most minor back injuries get better by themselves within 6 weeks. Usually you will not need any other tests or treatment.Is a back injury hard to prove? ›
Proving your back injury is hard enough as it is. The longer you wait to file your claim, the more difficult it becomes. You could lose critical evidence, and the insurance company will have a harder time believing that your back injuries happened due to your accident.How much do you pay for nerve damage? ›
Because each nerve injury is unique, the settlements could also vary. Estimates by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) put the average for all workers' comp settlements around $20,000 with a small percentage of nerve damage awards being more than $61,000.How do you prove you have nerve damage? ›
Diagnosis of Peripheral Nerve Injury
In order to fully determine the extent of the damage to the nerve, the doctor may order an electrical conduction test to determine the passage of electrical currents through the nerves. Two of these tests are electromyography and nerve conduction velocity.
There is no set dollar amount by which injections increase your settlement amount. Some people may find relief with a single shot, while others may need multiple injections over one or more years. Developing side effects can impact your potential settlement value.Is it better to sit or lay down with lower back pain? ›
If you're experiencing back pain when sitting, your impulse may be to lie down and then try to slowly progress back to sitting, says Dr. Atlas. But this is the wrong approach. You should lie down to relieve the pain, but the goal should be not to return to sitting, but rather to regain your ability to stand and move.Which tablet is best for lower back pain? ›
If your pain continues, your provider may suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You can buy some NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, without a prescription. NSAIDs help reduce the swelling around the swollen disk or arthritis in the back.What are the red flags for back pain? ›
“Red flags” include pain that lasts more than 6 weeks; pain in persons younger than 18 years or older than 50 years; pain that radiates below the knee; a history of major trauma; constitutional symptoms; atypical pain (eg, that which occurs at night or that is unrelenting); the presence of a severe or rapidly ...
If your chronic back pain is preventing you from performing the essential duties of your job, you may qualify for long-term disability (LTD). Chronic back pain is a common symptom. Spine injuries and other medical conditions can cause severe back pain.What kind of back injuries qualify for disability? ›
In order to be considered a 'disability,' your back pain must involve, among others, one of the following: Herniated discs. Compressed nerves. Degenerative disc disease.Is constant back pain a disability? ›
Chronic back pain can affect your ability to move, work, and live freely. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), work-related musculoskeletal disorders like back pain are the number one cause of disability during a person's working years.Does MRI increased settlement? ›
Yes! Assuming you have clear liability against the defendant, an MRI will definitely increase the insurance company offer and settlement amount for your injury claims.What is the largest settlement for a herniated disc? ›
Because there are so many variables involved (surgery/no surgery, insurance coverage of at-fault driver, etc.), herniated disc claims can settle for as high as $1,000,000 or as low as $1,000.What is so much pain with a herniated disc? ›
If you have a herniated lumbar disc, you may feel pain that radiates from your low back area, down one or both legs, and sometimes into your feet (called sciatica). You may feel a pain like an electric shock that is severe whether you stand, walk, or sit.Can doctors prove back pain? ›
Imaging and Blood Tests
Most people do not need additional testing; however, sometimes doctors order tests to rule out a specific cause for your pain or to confirm a cause for your back pain.
Sciatica can be considered a disability by the SSA if it's severe enough to interfere with your ability to work, but it often isn't severe enough on its own. That said, it may be possible to qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you experience other conditions because of or alongside your sciatica.How do you describe pain to a disability judge? ›
Pain is often hard to describe, but you should do your best to relate your pain as specifically as possible to the judge. This would include telling the judge what type of pain you experience (burning, stabbing, etc.), how often you experience it, and how you would quantify it (for example, on a scale of 1 to 10).How long does it take insurance to make an offer? ›
Typically, it can take anywhere from one to two weeks for the insurance company to respond to your demand letter. Then it can take anywhere from weeks to months until you reach a settlement that you will accept. Some people accept the first or second offer, while others may accept the third or fourth counteroffer.
Typically, compensation refers to monetary payment given to an individual in exchange for their services. In the workplace, compensation is what is earned by employees. It includes salary or wages in addition to commission and any incentives or perks that come with the given employee's position.What happens after claim is settled? ›
After a case is settled, meaning that the case did not go to trial, the attorneys receive the settlement funds, prepare a final closing statement, and give the money to their clients. Once the attorney gets the settlement check, the clients will also receive their balance check.What is the dollar value of pain and suffering? ›
The per diem method applies a daily rate for each day the plaintiff suffered. For example, if the daily rate is $500 and the plaintiff suffered for 30 days, the value of the pain and suffering claim would be $15,000. A higher value is attached when the timeline for pain and suffering is longer or the rate is higher.What is the price of a soft tissue injury? ›
PRICE is an acronym for Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Protect – prevent exasperating any injury by protecting the affected area (e.g. casts or braces). Rest – allow healing to take place by avoiding activities using the injured area. Ice – Minimise any swelling by applying ice to the area.How do you determine the price of pain and suffering? ›
The most common approach to calculating pain and suffering is to add up your economic damages and multiply them by a variable. This variable is usually between 1.5 and 5. Higher variables are used in more serious cases.How much money should I ask for in a settlement? ›
To get a general idea of settlement, add up the costs in medical bills, damages, and lost wages, and multiply the sum by three. This may be around the amount in the settlement you can receive after a car accident. Compensation for pain and suffering is only given to those who are injured in a car accident.What is a good settlement figure? ›
How Much Should I Expect from a Settlement? A good settlement offer should not only be able to cover your hospital bills and legal fees, but it should also be equivalent to close to a years' worth of your current wages, especially in cases where your injuries may be permanent or cause some kind of disability.Why is my settlement figure higher than my balance? ›
Your balance might be lower than your settlement figure because of a Direct Debit payment you've made. A Direct Debit could still go out after you get a settlement figure and before you pay off your loan. This will reduce the amount you owe and make your balance lower.What is the most painful back injury? ›
The worst of these injuries is called fracture-dislocation, in which the bone breaks but, because the ligaments are torn as well, the bones slide away from each other.What is the most common back injury? ›
Sprains and strains in the back
Spraining or straining your back is the most common type of back injury. These injuries can happen acutely (suddenly) or slowly over time. Strains often occur from twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon in your back.
Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts three months or longer.What not to do after a back injury? ›
Do not do activities that involve heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins. Do not exercise in the days right after the pain begins. After 2 to 3 weeks, slowly begin to exercise again. A physical therapist can teach you which exercises are right for you.How long should you take off after a back injury? ›
Most people recover from back pain and get back to work within 4 weeks. It is uncommon for workers to remain on sick leave for more than 6 months.How long should a back injury last? ›
Back muscle strains typically heal with time, many within a few days, and most within 3 to 4 weeks. Most patients with mild or moderate lumbar strains make a full recovery and are free of symptoms within days, weeks, or possibly months.What percent disability is back pain? ›
Many veterans with significant functional loss, pain, and difficulty working might initially only obtain a 10 or 20 percent rating. In fact, the average VA disability rating for back pain is only 10 percent.How do you prove severe back pain? ›
- X-ray. These images show arthritis or broken bones. ...
- MRI or CT scans. These scans generate images that can reveal herniated disks or problems with bones, muscles, tissue, tendons, nerves, ligaments and blood vessels.
- Blood tests. ...
- Nerve studies.
- If the pain lasts four weeks or longer.
- If the pain keeps getting worse as time goes by.
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.
You should see a doctor right away if you have:
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- problems with urinating or passing stool (poo)
- numbness or pins and needles to the arms, legs, hands or feet.
- blood in the urine.
Once a healthy disc herniates, it will never return to its normal anatomical state—the disease or injury is permanent in nature.What are the worst lower back injuries? ›
The worst of these injuries is called fracture-dislocation, in which the bone breaks but, because the ligaments are torn as well, the bones slide away from each other.
“Red flags” include pain that lasts more than 6 weeks; pain in persons younger than 18 years or older than 50 years; pain that radiates below the knee; a history of major trauma; constitutional symptoms; atypical pain (eg, that which occurs at night or that is unrelenting); the presence of a severe or rapidly ...What are the three tests to tell you if your back pain is caused by SI? ›
Specific physical exam provocative tests for SIJ dysfunction include FABER, compression, distraction, thigh thrust, and Gaenslen tests. Typically, SIJ pain is diagnosed when at least three out of the five provocative maneuvers are positive.How long does a serious back injury take to heal? ›
Recovery and Outcome
Back muscle strains typically heal with time, many within a few days, and most within 3 to 4 weeks.
"Most people's back pain dissipates in about a week or two, but if your pain is long-term or chronic, it's time to see a spine specialist."