Personal Injury Law Blog

Average Settlement for Herniated Disc Car Accident in California

Unfortunately, there is no average settlement for a herniated disc car accident in California—not one that is even remotely useful, anyway.

Herniated disc injury settlements differ so much from case to case that any average would represent nothing more than a meaningless mathematical abstraction. Although an average is useless, you can calculate your own herniated disc settlement value by applying the relevant factors to your own case.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

A spinal disc includes a rubbery exterior and a jelly-like interior. Your disc becomes herniated when the tough exterior tears and some of the soft gel inside spills out.

If it irritates a nearby nerve, the result can be pain, numbness, and weakness in your back, arm, or leg. The seriousness of a herniated disc varies greatly. Some people need surgery, while others experience no symptoms at all.

Elements of Damages for Herniated Disc Car Accident Compensation

A herniated disc is a personal injury. If you sustained a herniated disc in a car accident that was at least partly someone else’s fault, you can claim personal injury damages, including compensation for:

  • Past, present, and future medical bills;
  • Past, present, and future lost earnings (if your injury affected your ability to work);
  • Incidental expenses, such as child care expenses while you are incapacitated;
  • The pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injury; and
  • Punitive damages, if you are eligible for them (most claimants aren’t, even if their claim is otherwise successful)—to win punitive damages, the at-fault driver’s conduct must have been outrageous.

You can also claim compensation for any damage done to your car in the accident, although strictly speaking this is not personal injury damage.

Factors Affecting Your Personal Injury Damages

Several variables can affect the value of the above-listed elements of personal injury damages, including:

  • The type of medical treatment you needed. Did you take anti-inflammatory drugs? Steroid injections? Did you undergo surgery?
  • How long did you have to take off work? How much money were you making? Will you have to retire because of your injury?
  • The amount of pain and suffering you endured. To what extent did your herniated disc irritate a nerve, and for how long?

You need to be very careful about estimating future damages such as future medical expenses, future lost earnings, and future pain and suffering. If you underestimate these damages and fail to claim enough money, there will be no way for you to come back for more money later.

Proving Damages with Admissible Evidence

In law, nothing is true unless you can prove it. Moreover, you must prove every claim you rely on with evidence that complies with the California Evidence Code.

This is true even in private settlement negotiations, because the way you extract concessions in settlement negotiations is by proving that you can win in court. In herniated disc auto accident settlement negotiations, you can rely on the following evidence:

  • Your medical bills and medical records;
  • Medical expert testimony (from your doctor or from an independent medical expert);
  • Eyewitness testimony;
  • Police officer testimony from the scene of the accident;
  • CCTV footage of the accident, if available;
  • A journal or log in which you recorded your injury recovery process;
  • Employment records to prove lost earnings; and
  • Other items that may be relevant and admissible.

Even though you normally cannot use a police accident report as evidence at trial, you might be able to use it in settlement negotiations, because it will indicate the facts that a police witness might testify to.

Practical Limitations on Damages

Calculating your damages in only the first step in determining the value of your claim. The following factors can limit the amount you actually receive.

  • Comparative fault: If you were partly at fault for the accident, California’s comparative fault law will kick in. You will lose whatever percentage of your damages that the court attributes to you in fault (30%, for example, if you were 30% at fault). You (or your insurance company) may also have to pay a portion of the damages you caused. 
  • Insurance coverage limits: In an ordinary car accident the other driver might carry as little as $15,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. If the driver lacks personal financial resources and your claim exceeds $15,000, you may have to settle for only a partial recovery.
  • The negotiating skill of your lawyer: The best way for your lawyer to succeed at the negotiating table is to have a successful record in court. If your lawyer can’t win in court, the other side has little reason to settle with you.

Other factors, such as problems with evidence, can intervene as well.

Dealing With the Insurance Company

Insurance companies pay most herniated disc from car accident settlements. Always remember that insurance adjusters are professional negotiators. They are not “good neighbors”; they are your adversaries. Observe the following tips when dealing with them:

  • Retain a good lawyer immediately.
  • Don’t speak to the insurance company. Refer all communications to your lawyer.
  • Don’t accept the insurance company’s first offer. They will certainly try to “low ball
     you.
  • Don’t sign anything without your lawyer’s approval. Stay off social media until your claim is resolved, because Big Brother will be watching.
  • Know the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit by heart. Don’t let the insurance company lull you into forgetting it.

If you get stuck with a stubborn insurance company, you might need to file a lawsuit to gain access to the discovery process. The discovery process will allow you to use the authority of the court to demand evidence that is in the possession of the other party. You can still settle your claim before trial.

Take Action Immediately

If you suffered a herniated disc in a Southern California car accident, you may have a claim for damages. It all depends on whether someone else was at fault for your accident.

Claims don’t enforce themselves, however. You have to organize them, and you have to fight for them. We can help you with that! We have 50 years of experience helping accident victims rebuild their lives. 

Contact Glotzer & Leib 24/7 by calling us at 844-821-5271 or by contacting us online to schedule a free consultation.

All of our communications will be strictly confidential whether you decide to retain us or not. If you do decide to retain us, remember—you only pay us if we win. We serve clients in the Greater Los Angeles areas as well as throughout Southern California.

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