Cervical & Lumbar Disc Herniations from Auto Accidents
Our law firm handles a wide variety of cases related to car accidents. Time and again, a herniated disc is a common injury facing accident victims causing severe pain. Though the circumstances of an automobile accident that leaves the victim debilitated with a herniated disc injury can be unique in different crashes. Below are data and links describing settlement amounts and jury awards in car accident cases involving herniated disks.
Herniated Disks: the Location
Herniated disk injuries cause damage to the spine (vertebral column) involving 33 disks or vertebrae encased in the spinal canal.
From the skull to the lower back, the upper portion of the spinal column is referred to as the cervical vertebrae, the next twelve are the thoracic vertebrae, the next five are the lumbar vertebrae, and the final lowest nine are the sacral vertebrae. Rubbery discs act as a cushion between each of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae bones to prevent grinding against each other. When the rubbery material in between the sacral vertebrae discs is destroyed or is no longer present, surgeons must fuse the vertebrae together.
Herniated Discs: the Cause
Herniated discs can cause severe pain when the rubbery material is pushed out between vertebrae. Each disc has a hard, outer ring, called the annulus fibrosus, and a softer inner area called the nucleus pulposus. A rip, tear, or break in the outer ring could allow the inner portion to protrude out of its normal position and cause a herniated disk.
Interestingly, many individuals have a herniated disc and never experience any pain. However, when pain is present, it is often excruciating. For instance, herniated discs in the neck might manifest pain or a tingling sensation in the arm, leg, or shoulder. Whereas, herniated discs that develop at the bottom of the spine might cause discomfort in thigh, calf, or buttocks. Herniated discs can develop in numerous ways including:
- Aging: Over time, the spine loses some of its flexibility when its fluid content declines. The decreased flexibility and lack of moisture can cause the spine to become more brittle and prone to tears.
- Trauma: In certain instances, a blunt force traumatic event to the spine can either completely rip open the outer rim of a disc or exacerbate an existing tear causing a herniation. Circumstances, where this might occur, include a car accident, fall, or another physically jarring event.
- Gradual Tear: It is common for a patient to no not know when their herniated disc occurred exactly. Over the course of participating in heavy lifting during work, exercise, or other activities, the outer rim of the disc can herniate.
HERNIATED DISKS AND CAR ACCIDENTS
In many instances, the trauma of car accidents can provoke an underlying medical condition that causes a disc to herniate or the traumatic impact herniates the disc directly. Identifying the source of back injuries requires investigation and analysis. Once it can be determined that the accident was responsible for the herniated disc, the victim's attorney can negotiate significant settlement amounts or see a maximum jury award at trial. The following plaintiffs’ recoveries cases involve two decades of financial settlements and jury awards.