Overview and Statistics
One of the first concerns that victims of automobile accidents have is how much can they recover in a lawsuit? This is not a selfish question. These incidents are often accompanied with significant expenses including the following:
- Medical Bills: Following a typical car accident, you might have to undergo extensive surgeries, meet with multiple doctors, and take several medications. These are expensive things.
- Income Loss: It is not uncommon accident victims to miss work following a crash or suffer from investment opportunity loss. This should be considered when trying to estimate the value of a lawsuit.
- Property Damage: You should never forget the underlying property that was involved in the collision. Damage to your car, truck, or motorcycle is expensive and recoverable if the other party was at fault.
Accidents where herniated disks are at play are no different than typical crash cases. To give you an understanding of the type of recovery possible, here is a breakdown of national amounts that plaintiffs have gathered over the last twenty years (since 1994):
Plaintiff's Recovery in Car Accidents Involving Herniated Disks
Here are some major takeaways from these national accident cases:
- Herniated disk cases account for a sizeable number of accident cases, almost 1 in 10 across the country.
- Trials are becoming few and far between as settlement increases in frequency in most litigation categories; on the other hand, they are actually very common in car accident cases with herniated disks and this be might be due to the very fact-intensive nature of these incidents.
- For those obtaining awards or settlements, here were the average national recoveries for car accidents involving herniated disks:
- National jury award average: $275,307
- National settlement amount average: $638,805
Case Summaries and Highlights
Below we have listed some case summaries to give you an indication of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others in obtaining recovery:
- SODERMAN v. NAMASCO: In this case, the plaintiff was driving down an
expressway in Florida. In front of him, a truck was carrying a heavy load of lumber. Suddenly, one of the pieces of lumber fell off the truck and came flying at him. Trying to avoid the flying wood, he slammed on his breaks but was unsuccessful and the object crashed through his windshield. The experience left him with several injuries including herniated disks at the L4-L5 region on his spine, extraordinary pain, limited movement, and a reduced ability to compete in his profession of professional golf. Consequently, he sued the truck driver. The truck driver claimed that prior injuries were the actual source of his pain, or that the plaintiff’s own negligence in slamming on the breaks too hard might have contributed as well. After trial, the jury found for the plaintiff.
JURY AWARD: $1,400,000
- PINKERTON v. VERIZON: In this unfortunate Pennsylvania case, the
plaintiff, Patricia Pinkerton, was rear-ended by a truck while waiting at a stop light. The force of the crash sent her car flying into the car in front of her that was also waiting at the light. As a result of the accident, Pinkerton suffered severe brain injuries, memory loss, herniated disks, and other spinal injuries; furthermore, not only was her quality of life reduced, but she could also no longer continue to work as a surgical nurse. The driver that caused the incident was working for Verizon at the time and was apparently checking a work-related message just prior to crashing into Pinkerton. Pinkerton claimed that this exhibited negligence on the employee’s part but also that the company should be vicariously liable because he was acting in course of his employment. After pre-trial settlement negotiations failed, both sides reach an agreement several days into the trial.
SETTLEMENT AMOUNT: $3,000,000
- SCHEXNAYDER v. BRIDGES; N&G TRUCKING INC.; HINSON LOGGING INC.; STATE NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY INC.:
The plaintiff in this case, Paul Schexnayder, was a successful supervisor of a
Louisiana pipe company. While driving one day, his car was struck by another automobile after the non-party’s car was sent flying into Schexnayder’s lane when a tractor-trailer collided into it. This accident gave Paul two herniated disks, and one of them required a lumbar fusion surgery. He claimed that the driver of the tractor-trailer was negligent in driving by not yielding and making an illegal turn that caused a chain-reaction crash. The defendant denied the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and tried to shift the blame to the non-party driver whose car actually hit the plaintiff’s car. The jury found for the plaintiff but said that the non-party driver was responsible for about one-third of the Schexnayder’s damages and the plaintiff was responsible for the remaining; thus, his recovery was reduced by one-third.
JURY AWARD: $1,500,000
- WILLIAMS v. LOOMIS FARGO & CO.: The plaintiff in this case was stuck in
traffic on a Florida Interstate highway. When, out of nowhere, an armored truck slammed into his car and rear-ended him. Obviously, his car was totaled but he also suffered brain injuries and two herniated disks. Additionally, many of his work supplies were damaged beyond repair due to the accident. As a result of the incident, he had to undergo extensive surgeries, receive ongoing medical care, and could not continue his work as a muralist. To this, the defendant said that he was faking his injuries or that they stemmed from a pre-existing condition. However, the defense could not offer evidence or testimony to support this. The only significant defense mounted by the defendant was that the plaintiff did not properly protect his personal property from damage. The jury was not sympathetic and found completely for the plaintiff.
JURY AWARD: $2,100,000
- GANGEMI v. JOSEPH ZIZZA: Joseph Gangemi was driving home
from work one day when he was broadsided in the middle of an intersection. The force of the impact turned his car over and ejected him from the vehicle. Gangemi claimed that the defendant, who was delivering something for his employer at the time, was negligent in blowing through a stop sign and crashing into him. Due to this negligence, he pointed to significant damages including herniated disks, extensive medical bills related to surgery and hospital stays, and an inability to continue running his martial arts school. The defendant and his employer countered that Gangemi was speeding around another car at the time of the incident and not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. Both sides settled prior to trial
SETTLEMENT AMOUNT: $650,000
- PLOTNER v. SISSON: Branden Plotner was returning to his Nevada home
one day when the light in front of him changed from red to green. Hoping to turn right at the intersection, he paused briefly to make sure the coast was clear then proceeded to accelerate when a car behind him ran smack into his. The rear-end crash left Plotner with a herniated disk (that would later require a lumbar fusion), permanent spinal pain as well as general neck problems. Obviously, he claimed that the driver was negligent in crashing into him and that the employer the defendant was working for at the time was vicariously liable. To this, the only real defense they could muster was to speculate as to the real extent of damages but they were not successful. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plotner.
JURY AWARD: $1,075,000