Herniated Discs in Your Lower Back or Lumbar Region of the Spine
Your spine is really comprised of multiple joints, just like a knee joint or shoulder joint.
Spinal discs are the cushions in between the vertebrae of the spinal column. These discs cushion the vertebrae.
Undoubtedly, these discs degenerate over time and this process is called Degenerative Disc Disease or arthritis. Don't worry. It happens to nearly everyone. It's part of life and aging.
Insurance companies on the defense side will try to use this aging process against you. They will tell the jury that the injury wasn't caused by the accident, but rather by a pre-existing condition. Juries are often swayed by that fact, unfortunately.
But we fight back and show demonstrative aids in court to explain to the jury what really happened.
Spinal discs are filled with fluid and have an external shell. We explain disc injuries to the jury like this: discs are like jelly donuts. But when a disc is damaged, the donut may either bulge or break open. This is a herniated disc (also called a slipped or ruptured disc).
If a disc is damaged by trauma, the fluid may leak out like jelly leaking out of a donut.
This makes less space for the nerve root. If the nerves then are compromised by the leaking bulge or herniation this can cause pain - sometimes awful debilitating pain - that travels throughout the body.
The path of radiating pain depends on where the disc herniation occurs. When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, the pain is not in the disc area; rather, the disc herniation is pinching a nerve in the spine that causes 'radicular' pain. Often this is called "radiculopathy" by your doctor.
Radiculopathy is typically described as a pain that shoots through the body, usually to one area in particular like the arms or fingers or back of the legs (because each nerve in the spine is connected to that area). This pain can be, leg pain if the disc herniation is in the lower lumbar region (back), or finger and arm pain from a cervical (neck) herniated disc.
A vertebrae injury is often easy to diagnose. Herniated discs are more difficult.
In fact, some doctors use the terms "herniation" and "bulging" discs interchangeably. It can be very confusing, even for doctors.
That's why you need a good lawyer to explain it all to the jury.
This is because the disc is invisible on an x-ray. X-rays can't show soft parts of the body like discs.
Therefore, herniated discs are rarely diagnosed in the emergency room after an auto accident.
Consequently, patients need a computer topography scans (CT scan or CAT scan) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to confirm a herniated disc injury. A discography, myelography, or an electromyography are also used to diagnose herniated discs.
We explain to the jury that the accident or trauma made either caused the herniation or made the situation symptomatic (hurt again after years of dormancy or non-existence).
What Is a Herniated Disc Case Worth by Settlement or at Trial?
It depends. It depends whether the accident or trauma caused the herniation (jelly to leak out) or whether it was there to begin with.
It depends whether there were any back pain complaints in the past.
Some herniated disc injuries do not cause a meaningful permanent injury. But many leave a patient in constant pain for the rest of their lives.
If that is the case, these cases can have values approaching $50,000-150,000.