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Herniated Discs From Car Accidents

Herniated Discs From Car Accidents
Marc Karlin

While many people have heard of whiplash occurring as a result of car accidents, herniated discs from car accidents are not as common. Nonetheless, car accident victims have the right to pursue compensation from the party or parties who caused their injuries, whatever those injuries might be. Even an accident victim who had a pre-existing condition caused by degeneration can still pursue claims when someone else’s negligence causes new symptoms or aggravates an old injury. If you have suffered a herniated disc resulting from a car accident, consider contacting the personal injury lawyers at Karlin & Karlin at (888) 295-0138 to learn more about your legal rights during a free consultation. Someone is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call.

What Is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc occurs when a fragment of a disc that sits in the vertebrae pushes into a person’s spinal canal and bulges out of place, which compresses, puts pressure on, or irritates the spinal cord. This injury often causes pain, numbness, or weakness in a leg or arm and often occurs in the lower back.

How To Diagnose a Herniated Disc

Some herniated discs are diagnosed by doctors during a physical exam. A doctor can check a patient’s back for areas of tenderness. They may also conduct a neurological exam to check reflexes, muscle strength, sensation, and ability to walk.

According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may also conduct a variety of imaging or nerve tests to diagnose herniated discs, such as:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRIs
  • Myelograms
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • EMGs

Medical Treatment for Herniated Discs

Doctors will generally begin conservative treatment for herniated discs by recommending avoiding movements that cause pain or suggesting non-prescription medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the patient does not respond to this treatment, doctors might prescribe medications that can include:

  • Muscle relaxers
  • Neuropathic drugs
  • Opioids

If the patient does not respond to this treatment, doctors might suggest physical therapy or cortisone injections to relieve pain or surgery to remove the protruding part of the disc. In rare cases, the vertebrae may need to be fused with a bone graft and metal hardware placed in the spinal column to provide stability.

How Herniated Discs from Car Accidents Occur

A car accident can cause a herniated disc in an accident victim due to the significant force applied to the spinal column at the time of impact. That pressure can cause one or more discs to become dislocated. Additionally, disc movement can cause disc ruptures or tears.

Types of Car Accidents That Can Cause Herniated Discs

A herniated disc can occur as the result of any type of motor vehicle crash. However, the common types of car accidents that can result in a herniated disc include the following:

  • Rear-end accidents—Rear-end accidents are more likely to cause herniated discs due to the direction of the impact. As the body is suddenly jolted forward, a large amount of force applies to the spine, which can cause a herniated disc.
  • Head-on collisions—The sudden force of impact of a head-on collision can cause a herniated disc.
  • T-bone accidents—T-bone accidents can cause herniated discs because of the way they can cause the head to snap back and forth quickly and violently.

What Determines the Value of a Herniated Disc Car Accident Claim?

Many factors determine the potential value of a claim from a car accident that resulted in an accident victim suffering from a herniated disc, including:

  • Cost and type of medical treatment
  • Lost income
  • Permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Insurance coverage available
  • Fault
  • Victim’s history

Cost and Type of Medical Treatment

Herniated discs can result in significant medical expenses. Patients may not respond to conservative methods of treatment and might have to try more invasive measures to treat the condition. Personal injury victims can request compensation for the cost of medical treatment they incur for:

  • Diagnosis and diagnostic tests
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Anticipated future medical expenses

The type of medical expenses that the victim incurs can also affect other aspects of his or her claim, such as lost wages and degree of pain and suffering.

Lost Income

Car accident victims who suffer from herniated discs can also seek compensation for the income lost while they are receiving medical treatments and recovering from their injuries.

Permanent Disability

A car accident victim may receive a higher settlement amount if the herniated disc injury limits work activities, causes the loss of a job, or requires a job change that comes with a reduction in pay. This is known as “reduced earning capacity.” If a person is left permanently disabled and is unable to work any type of job, that person can seek compensation for the permanent disability. In addition to the lost income, a permanent disability has the capacity to negatively impact a victim’s life and his or her relationships with family. These non-economic considerations can also be factored in to the victim’s claim.

Pain and Suffering

While pain and suffering can be difficult to quantify, personal injury victims can sometimes receive compensation for their physical and mental pain and suffering. This would be an amount over and above any amount calculated to cover the injured person’s economic losses.

Insurance Coverage Available

If the claim is resolved through an insurance company, the amount of insurance coverage is relevant. Insurance companies will not typically resolve claims above the policy’s coverage limits.


The defendant’s degree of fault can also impact the value of a car accident claim. Likewise, any degree of the plaintiff’s own fault can affect the award.

Victim’s History

The victim’s medical history—including a history of any previous injuries—work history, age, and overall health can affect the value of a claim.

Because every case is different and involves different types of damages, it can be difficult to determine the potential value of a herniated disc car accident claim. An experienced personal injury lawyer with Karlin & Karlin can estimate the potential value of your claim based on previous cases with similar facts.

Deadline To File a Legal Claim for Herniated Discs from Car Accidents

While the majority of those injured in car accidents will file claims as soon as possible after the date of the accident, there may be times when determining the cause of the herniated disk is difficult or when the focus is on seeking treatment and taking time to heal. In these cases, filing a legal claim may be delayed. According to the California Courts, a person who was injured in a car accident generally has two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for related damages.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Claim

If you or someone you love suffered herniated discs from car accidents, help from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney could alleviate some of the stress of filing a claim for compensation. Consider contacting Karlin & Karlin at (888) 295-0138 for a free consultation anytime to discuss your legal rights and options.

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