The Average Settlement for a Back Injury

Posted by Sean DuBois on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The average settlement figure for back injuries will vary GREATLY depending upon the type of injury caused. According to one study, 16% of the verdicts in spinal disc injury lawsuits exceed $1 million and 7% exceed $2.5 million. As a result, such spinal injuries are typically associated with very high settlement figures, and such cases may settle for millions of dollars. Less severe spinal cord injuries are more common, and constitute the majority of spinal cord injury cases.

Back injuries caused by negligence can be very serious, and legal action against the party responsible for the harm will often lead to a settlement. In general, settlement figures are based upon the parties’ agreement on the “value” of the case; in other words, what the plaintiff would win if the case went to trial. The average settlement for a back injury depends upon the type of back injury sustained, as well as a number of other factors that a litigant should consider before negotiating for a settlement.

As with any personal injury case, the value of a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit involving a back injury depends upon the strength of the plaintiff’s case. In evaluating the case, it is important to determine the extent of the harm to the plaintiff. MRI and CT scans are helpful in this regard. It is also important to determine whether the plaintiff had a pre-existing back injury at the time of the accident. Given that a defendant will not be liable for harm he did not cause, a settlement figure will likely be discounted by any pre-existing injury.

Less severe back injuries such as herniated disc injuries also yield large settlements. Such injuries are difficult to diagnose because the injury itself cannot be identified via x-ray. A CT scan or MRI, as well as a discography, myelography, or an electromyography can be used to diagnose such injuries. Furthermore, herniated disc injuries should be distinguished from ruptured or bulging disc cases, which yield lesser settlement figures.

Another important factor to consider when evaluating the average settlement for a back injury case deals with the physical symptoms resulting from the injury itself, and the degree to which the injury impacts the plaintiff’s life. Clearly on one end of the spectrum, wrongful death cases have the greatest impact on a person’s life, and as a result tend to command the highest average settlement figures. Severe spinal injuries also have a tremendous impact on a person’s life, and such lawsuits can command very high settlement figures. Even lesser herniated disc injury cases, which often involve severe chronic “radicular” pain to the nerve root, leg pain if the herniation is in the lumbar or back, or arm pain in the case of a cervical (neck) herniated disc, can settle at very high values.

In short, depending upon a number of factors, including the type of injury, the severity of the pain, and the extent of the impact on the plaintiff’s life, a back injury settlement can range from tens of thousands to millions of dollars. To learn more about the potential settlement value of a case, one should consult an experienced and qualified attorney that can adequately evaluate and guide a back injury case toward settlement.

Past Oregon Back Injury Cases We’ve Handled:

Back Injury Case Example #1: Bicyclist Hit in Crosswalk Accident

M.T. was walking his bicycle across the street when he was hit by a car. He was in the crosswalk and had a walk sign, so liability was clear. The car knocked him to the ground and ran over his dog! The dog was fine, but M.T. was severely injured. His injuries, including serious back pain and a hand injury that later required surgery also affected his ability to do his job. Eventually, he had surgery and with physical therapy he was able to use his hand, although not as well as he had before. Sean DuBois was able to get a settlement of $115,000 (original offer: under $50,000).

Back Injury Case Example #2: Back Surgery, Herniated Disk

L.N. was driving on 205N when traffic forced her to stop. The person behind her rear-ended her after braking so hard he swerved. After seeking treatment that did not seem to be working, she had an MRI. One of the disks in her back was herniated and required surgery. When she found out about the need for surgery, she started researching attorneys because she did not want to be left to pay any medical bills. She found Shulman DuBois and they got her the policy limits from the at-fault driver’s insurance as well as filed a UIM claim for her with her own insurance. This case settled for $150,000.

Categories: Catastrophic Injury Accidents, Insurance Adjuster, Medical/Safety


Shulman DuBois LLC provides this blog as a public, educational, service for Oregon residents. As Portland personal injury attorneys, we want to help accident victims by offering information - this is not meant to be legal advice, as every case is unique. Unless otherwise stated, we do not represent any of the parties, nor do we specialize in the type of case discussed. These blogs are meant to be purely informational. If you've been in an accident and would like a FREE consultation with an attorney, call our firm today at 503-222-4411 to start understanding your legal rights.


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