What to Expect From a Bulging Disc From Car Accident
If you ask an ER physician about their worst cases, they will likely tell you it’s car accident injuries.
The human body is not made to withstand the collision of metal and glass traveling at high speed. Trauma can present from compound fractures to brain injury.
And, injuries can plague victims for the rest of their life. A bulging disc is a common trauma from car accidents. They can occur anywhere along the spine.
Sufferers often cite pain and suffering due to the inflamed area. In cases where the victim had prior disc problems, the crash can worsen the situation.
A bulging disc from car accident settlement is never a guarantee. Many insurance companies will often settle rather than go to court. Here are some things to know.
The Causes of a Bulging Disc
The material between the vertebrae is perfect for ensuring our spine is flexible. If there is inflammation in the disc, it can extend beyond the vertebral frame.
This problem most often occurs in the lower back, but a bulging disc can happen anywhere along the back or neck. If it bulges far enough, it can interrupt nerves and cause pain.
Without treatment, there is often a chance the disc will herniate. A herniated disc is when the tissue completely separates from its place.
Often, doctors will recommend more invasive treatment than those for bulging discs. Some may believe a settlement for herniated disc should exceed those for bulging discs.
But, this is not always true. It depends upon the severity and long-term prognosis.
If There is a Pre-Existing Condition
One of the most confusing parts of having a bulging disc is that many sufferers don’t know they have one. It may not always cause pain.
Until it gets worse. It’s common for an auto accident to make it worse. The presence of a bulging disc before the crash is sometimes the insurer’s argument.
An attorney may use the preexisting condition to point out the cause is not the crash. But, this information on its own is not enough to prevent a settlement. In fact, a worsening situation is enough to get medical treatment.
Depending on the severity, a claim for pain and suffering can follow.
Recovery from a bulging disc depends on the severity of the injury. The age of the victim and severity of the symptoms also determines the time it takes to heal.
In some cases, treatment relieves symptoms such as pain and muscle spasms. But, the injury is still present. Even with relief, they may need more procedures or surgery if the bulging disc does not heal.
And, this is one of the reasons a settlement is important. Though insurance may cover initial medical treatments, the dollar amount is not infinite.
For example, if medical coverage on the driver’s insurance may be $25,000. Any costs above this amount are the responsibility of the victim.
Specialists in the spine field say the number of treatments for a bulging disc can range from 5 to 50.
What You Can’t Do Anymore
For some, a bulging disc injury does more damage than chronic pain. The inability to care for children, work, or enjoy activities is stressful and expensive.
For those who cannot work, there is much at stake. Without a disability policy, families may not have any income.
Lost wages and pain and suffering are not part of an insurance plan. The only way to recover these losses is to get representation and ask for a settlement.
How Insurance Companies Determine Settlement Amounts
There are many things an insurer must consider when arriving at a settlement amount. We often think of “pain and suffering” as the prime reason for compensation, but there is more to the story:
- Medical Treatments-immediate and long-term needs
- Property Loss-car repairs and loss of personal property
- Income-loss of future income
- Injuries-permanent injuries, recovery, medical payments
- Pain and Suffering-insurance is a contract to make victims whole again
- Punitive Damages-if the cause of the accident is due to the negligence of another
Besides the costs, insurers also know that claimants may take them to court. As the claim processes, adjusters look at the strength of the case.
This includes witnesses, police reports, and how believable the claimant is. As they enter negotiations of the settlement, their counsel will assist with amounts.
How Attorneys Determine Settlement Amounts
For some claimants, the initial offer for a bulging disc settlement may seem low.
They will need financial support for at least the near future. At this point, seeking counsel will help with negotiation.
Attorneys who work with this type of case know the process of determining a fair settlement. As insurance companies have a history of similar claims, so do attorneys.
In the state of Louisiana, pain and suffering settlements average $50,000 to $100,000. The award does not include amounts for other losses.
Out of pocket expenses for medical payments or long-term care is a separate claim. So, attorneys will set a value for each term of the settlement.
In December 2017, for example, a decision for a disc injury in Louisiana gave the plaintiff $900,00.
What if the Case Goes to Court?
Though many cases settle out of court, some will need a trial. The deadline in Louisiana for seeking compensation after an accident is one year.
The state also requires the least amount sought to be more than $50,000 for personal injury. A court case which stems from a car accident and injury has a jury trial.
The proceedings include defense attorneys for the insurance company. And, an attorney for the claimant. The jury for this civil trial is similar to those for criminal prosecutions.
And, it’s the jury who decides the amount of money the claimant will receive for the following:
- General Damages-pain and suffering
- Special Damages-medical costs
- Consortium-loss of relationships, society, support, or help
- Loss of Earning Capacity
The claimant’s attorney will submit the amounts for each loss. But, it remains the jury’s decision what to award.
There also may be mitigating factors. For example, a claimant may share some of the faults for the accident.
The fault of a claimant does not end a settlement. Once the jury decides amounts, the judge can reduce it by an amount equal to the responsibility.
So, if the claimant is at 10% fault, a 10% reduction will apply to the amount of the jury’s award.
Who Determines Fault in an Accident?
In most cases, the first police report determines fault. Law enforcement will investigate at the scene and interview drivers and witnesses.
Those who are at fault may get a ticket at the scene. Where there are injuries, drivers may not be available for interview. The fault may not be a determination right away.
The decision for insurers will occur once all the facts are in. Insurance companies use fault to determine their percentage of coverage, too. So, if a driver is partially at fault for their accident, coverage may be less than the claim amount.
It can be as much as 100% or as low as 10%. If three drivers rear-end each other, a percentage of the fault goes to the last two drivers, for example.
The front car has no fault, the second car is 50% at fault, and the last car is 100% at fault. The percentages can also apply to settlements.
Are There Limits on the Amount of Settlement?
There are some limitations when it comes to personal injury claims. For example, if someone has an injury at work, they may receive worker’s compensation.
If so, they are not able to sue for pain and suffering. Or, if the lawsuit involves a government agency, the limit for payment is $500,000.
Louisiana also has what they call a “play for pay” rule for personal injury cases. Underinsured drivers must exceed all their policy limits for damages.
Only then they can turn to an attorney to seek more compensation.
Why Do Many Cases Settle Out of Court?
It’s true that most cases settle out of court. One of the reasons is that insurers pay high costs for litigating personal injury cases.
And, every dime they spend makes the claim payout higher. The job of insurance claims professionals is to pay as little as possible.
So, court costs and attorney’s cost can often bring the worth of the claim much higher. And well out of an insurance company’s limits.
Once a victim has an attorney, the insurance company assesses what they can offer to settle. And, this is a negotiation.
So, the first offer is not always the last. Also, insurance professionals assess the credibility of claimants, witnesses, and doctor’s reports.
In every case, they must consider how the jurors will react to all the information.
They also know many people, in general, have a mistrust of insurance companies.
The typical bias can influence each person on the jury.
How Long Is the Process for a Bulging Disc From Car Accident Settlement?
The time it takes to settle any personal injury case depends a great deal on how long the recovery takes. A victim may have a few months of treatment, for example.
If they are well, the attorney can then send the settlement amount to the insurance company. And, the insurer will respond within 30 days with an offer to settle.
This example is on the short end of the process. For some, recovery takes much longer. There are a few cases which go on for months or years.
These tend to be complex cases or those that go to trial. Though there is no guarantee on the length of time, victims do have rights.
For example, “good faith claim handling” is a rule for every insurer. They must settle each claim within a reasonable time according to state laws.
What if There are Many Insurance Companies?
There are many cases where there are many cars in a bulging disc from car accident settlement. Each driver will have their separate insurer.
And, each driver may have varying levels of fault in the accident. The claim may involve several parties.
Victims can recover damages from more than one insurer. In some cases, an insurer may pay part or all a claim for their own policyholder.
If they later find out another insurer is responsible, they can retrieve the funds from them.
Why Having an Attorney is So Important
A bulging disc from a car accident settlement a good reason to get an attorney. For those who are going through treatment or pain often need someone to help.
For victims who cannot work, financial problems begin taking a toll.
There are those who try to work on their own during the trying time. And, they may have a low offer of settlement by an insurer.
Or, they’ll often get bad advice from friends or family who mean well, but don’t know the law.
Every claimant has rights, an attorney who specializes in these type of cases can stand up for them. This way, they can concentrate on feeling better and getting their life back.
What We Do Everyday
Those who have injuries from a car accident can lose a great deal. Getting coverage those losses is what we do every day.
Whether it’s a bulging disc from car accident settlement or other serious cases, we are ready. We work for maximum compensation for our clients.
We know your rights, and work to protect them. If you or someone you know needs help, we offer a free case review here.