Posted by: Kisling, Nestico & Redick, LLC
Car accidents result in all manner of injuries, some more obvious than others. One such subtle injury is a bulging or herniated disc. They’re extremely painful and could have a lasting impact on your life.
You may need years of medical attention and therapy if you suffer a herniated disc after a car accident. Your insurance company could be responsible for paying for your treatment, or you may have to pursue a settlement claim with the at-fault driver to return to a life as close to normal as before the crash.
What Is a Bulging or Herniated Disc?
Twenty-three discs in the human spine sit between the vertebrae, acting as cushions supporting the individual bones. The discs are made of cartilage and filled with fluid, and they can be ruptured if there is trauma like a car accident. These ruptures cause the disc to bulge, which can put pressure on nerves throughout the spine and pain throughout the body.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Herniated discs often happen in a person’s lower back but can also occur in the neck, which can cause a restricted range of motion or sharp pain.
You may have a herniated disc if you’re feeling:
- Arm or leg pain: If a disc in your lower back is herniated, you’re likely to feel pain in your buttocks, thigh, or calf. You may also experience pain in your feet. If a disc in your neck is herniated, you’d likely feel pain in your shoulder and arm, especially shooting pains when you cough, sneeze or move into certain positions. It’s often described as “burning” or “sharp” pains.
- Numbness or tingling: You may experience radiating numbness or tingling in the part of the body served by the affected nerves near the herniated disc.
- Weakness: If you have a herniated disc, the muscles served by the nerves affected by that injury may be weaker. You may have difficulty lifting or holding items, or you may have mobility troubles.
It’s important to note it’s possible to have a herniated disc without apparent symptoms. A visit to a medical professional may be needed for a diagnosis.
How to Diagnose a Herniated Disc
After a car crash, you may be taken to an emergency room for trauma treatment. Medical personnel will look for scrapes, cuts, and broken bones, but they may not immediately look for a herniated disc. If you believe you’ve suffered a herniated disc, you may need to ask for more scrutinous tests, like a CT scan or MRI. An X-ray will show broken bones but not bulging or herniated discs.
Your doctor may also complete a physical examination.
Risk Factors For a Herniated Disc
Traumatic events like a car crash may cause a herniated disc, but you could also be at risk for this injury if you have excess weight, which stresses the lower back; a physically demanding job, or if you often make repetitive motions; you could be genetically predisposed to herniated discs; smoking, which can limit the oxygen supply to your discs, speeding up their breakdown; frequent driving can put pressure on your spine; and if you’re sedentary, as regular activity can help prevent bulging discs.
Treating a Herniated Disc
Treatments for a bulging disc can range from simple to extreme. Sometimes all you need to recover from a herniated disc is rest or medication, but some cases involve surgery. You may also need to receive physical therapy following your initial treatment.
Some surgery may be required to relieve your pain for extreme cases of herniated discs. Some treatments include fusing vertebrae to prevent painful movement, or medical professionals may remove bone around the spinal canal to relieve nerve pressure. Doctors may also recommend an artificial disc implant, which provides stability and eliminates pain.
These expensive surgeries can cost between $20,000 to $50,000 without insurance. Getting a fair settlement from an at-fault driver’s insurance company is crucial to help cover that expense.
What to do After a Car Crash if You Think You Have a Herniated Disc?
Following a car crash, you should alert the authorities and take pictures of the scene, plus any visible injuries. Once you’ve exchanged information with the other driver, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you haven’t been taken already. You should also alert your insurance company about the crash.
When it comes to bulging disc injuries, the quicker you can diagnose it and start treatment, the better your odds of recovering. Be sure to ask for the appropriate imaging tests to get the best diagnosis possible, which will affect your treatment options.
You should document your treatment experience, including any diagnoses or methods prescribed. You should also track any pain before your diagnosis so your insurance company will take your claim seriously. Keep these documents for your lawyer so they are equipped to help you with a claim or settlement.
Don’t try to tough out a bulging disc injury. You can experience serious difficulties later in life if a disc injury affects your nervous system without treatment. Remember you should also follow any of your doctor’s treatments: an insurance company may argue a lapse in treatment proves you aren’t seriously injured.
How A Lawyer Helps Recover a Reasonable Settlement
The insurance companies will work hard to pay out as little as possible. They ideally would love for your case to end quickly. Insurance companies often achieve this by offering you low settlement offers, hoping that you will accept them without much delay.
Having an experienced lawyer from the beginning will let the insurance companies know that you are serious about receiving a fair settlement offer.
The insurance company may argue that you already had any herniated or bulging disc issues before the accident, and therefore they don’t owe you money for them. However, by keeping your lawyer informed of the pain caused by the crash, they can build a solid case to argue for maximum compensation.
A skilled lawyer will do the following to recover a fair settlement for a disc injury:
- Work closely with doctors – Understanding the full extent of your injuries is necessary. We must be able to prove how your spinal discs were damaged.
- Demonstrate your needs going forward – Your settlement offer must consider how your injury will impact your life in the years to come. Not only does this mean medical requirements, but limitations on routine activities that you once took for granted.
- Prove the liability of the other party – There cannot be any uncertainty as to who holds responsibility for the accident that caused your harm. We work closely with police and witnesses to make it clear whose insurance company owes you damages.
How Much Can You Expect From A Disc Injury Settlement?
If you’ve suffered a herniated disc because of a car accident, you’ll face expensive medical bills and will want to get the maximum compensation to cover these costs. Every case is different, so the amount of damages you can claim varies. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with a better idea of the amount you should settle for. While money can’t cure everything, it can help you get your life back on track.
Concerning the dollar amount you can recover, consider these figures:
- $25,000 per person – This is the minimum liability coverage a driver must purchase for each person they harm in a car accident. There is a $50,000 minimum per car accident.
- $250,000 – This is the cap you can recover for non-economic damages (like pain, suffering, emotional distress) in a lawsuit. If your settlement offer is not enough, your lawyer may proceed with a lawsuit for damages.
- No limit – There is no cap limit on economic damages that you can recover if you need to file a lawsuit for compensation. These damages include medical bills and lost wages, and you can recover as much as possible.
Contact KNR After Sustaining a Disc Injury in a Car Accident
Car accidents are traumatic events, and that trauma is exacerbated by the everyday pain a herniated disc can bring. Along with the pain, you’ll be faced with medical bills and working to recover the compensation you need to return to your everyday life. A skilled Ohio car accident lawyer will give you your best chance to get the maximum settlement available.
The insurance company has many resources, and its lawyers will be working to keep your settlement low. Do not delay in contacting a knowledgeable lawyer after your car accident. The Kisling, Nestico & Redick team can be the difference in recovering what you need.
At KNR, we have worked with countless car accident victims who have sustained disc injuries and have helped them secure what they deserve. You are entitled to a fair financial recovery after being injured in an accident caused by someone else’s careless or negligent actions.