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 a car accident. In fact, it’s an injury that attorney Stephen Babcock received himself as a result of a car accident. They can occur anywhere along the spine.
Sufferers often cite pain and suffering due to the inflamed area around the disc. In cases where the victim had prior disc problems, the crash can worsen the situation.
A bulging disc settlement from car accident is never a guarantee. Many insurance companies will often settle rather than go to court. But choosing to work with a personal injury law firm in Baton Rouge can make the difference when it comes to getting you the money you deserve for your injury. Here are some things to know.
The Causes of a Bulging Disc
The material between the vertebrae in our spine is perfect for ensuring it stays 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 irritate the nerves and cause pain.
Without treatment, there is 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 for a herniated disc than for bulging discs. Generally, a settlement for herniated disc exceeds 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 people don’t always know they have one. Many people have a bulging discs and don’t know it because it isn’t symptomatic (not causing pain).
Until it gets worse, that is. It’s common for an auto accident to turn a symptomatic disc (not causing pain) into an asymptomatic disc (causing pain). In other words, car accidents can make your bulging disc worse. The presence of a bulging disc before the crash is oftentimes the insurer’s argument.
A defense 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. If the accident made your bulging disc worse, or turned your asymptomatic disc (not causing pain) into an asymptomatic disc (causing pain) that’s enough in the hands of a good lawyer.
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 treatment available and 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, an accident victim may need more medical procedures or even surgery if the bulging disc does not resolve on its own.
And, this is one of the reasons a settlement is important. Though insurance may cover initial medical treatments, the dollars don’t go on forever.
For example, if medical coverage on the driver’s insurance is $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 and none of them are very cheap.
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 to pay the bills.
Lost wages and pain and suffering are not part of an insurance plan. The only way to recover these losses is to get a good lawyer and make a claim.
How Insurance Companies Determine Settlement Amounts
There are many things an insurer will 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, medical payments
- Pain and Suffering – pain you go through
- Punitive Damages – if the cause of the accident is due to the negligence of another plus alcohol
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 (that’s you!)
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 these types of cases 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 range from $25,000 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 $900,000, but this was an exception result.
What if the Case Goes to Court?
Though most cases settle out of court, some will go to trial. The deadline in Louisiana for filing a lawsuit after an accident is one year.
The proceedings include defense attorneys for the insurance company. And, an attorney for the claimant.
If it’s a large case, it will be a 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 fault for the accident.
The fault of a claimant does not end a settlement. Once the jury decides the 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?
Rear-end accidents are common, perhaps being the most common type of vehicular accident, and can often result in bulging disc injuries, among others. In most cases, the police report will give you an idea who the police thought was at fault for the accident. Law enforcement will investigate at the scene and interview drivers and witnesses. They typically list the individual that they believe to be at vault as “Driver 1” on the accident report.
Those who are at fault may get a ticket at the scene, though not always. Where there are serious 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 1%. If three drivers rear-end each other, a percentage of the fault goes to the last two drivers, for example.
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 a settlement demand to the insurance company. And, the insurer will usually 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. For instance, Allstate and State Farm are notoriously slow. There are a few cases which go on for months or years.
These tend to be complex cases or those that go to trial.
Why Having an Attorney is So Important
A bulging disc from a car accident settlement is 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 because they know you’re in a financial bind.
Or, they’ll often get bad advice from friends or family who mean well, but don’t know the law.
Every claimant has rights, and an attorney who specializes in these type of cases can stand up for them.
What We Do Everyday
If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock is standing by to help you.
When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee. If you have any questions about this article or want to visit with a lawyer for free, call Stephen at (225) 500-5000 or contact us here. Or if you prefer, feel free to take advantage of our live chat system. Get Even. Call Stephen.