How Much Compensation Can You Get for a Herniated Disc in an Accident Case?

Valuing Herniated Disc Injuries in Accident Cases

Between each vertebrae bone in your spine is a doughnut shaped disc which has a soft rubbery center and a tough outer casing.  A herniated disc occurs when the outer casing of the disc ruptures allowing the soft inner tissue to push out. This can cause compression of nerves in the spine which is very painful. A herniated disc is a very common type of injury resulting from a car accident because the force of the impact puts the spine under significant pressure.

A herniated disc is a moderate (Level II) injury because it often requires extensive treatment and can cause chronic, debilitating pain. Herniated disc cases tend to have a higher value than whiplash and other “soft tissue” back or neck injury cases.

The average jury verdict in a disc injury case nationally is around $360,000. The median jury verdict is closer to $80,000. This wide gap between the median and average value is evidence that there are few handful of really big disc cases that drive up the average. This disparity is also caused by the inherent subjectivity of herniated disc injuries. A disc herniation can cause extreme pain in one person, while another person with the exact same herniation may experience no symptoms at all.

Factors that Impact the Value of Herniated Disc Cases:

I.    Level of Treatment

II.   Preexisting Degeneration

III.  Age of Plaintiff

IV.   Treating Doctor Testifies

V.    Permanency

There are certain key factors that matter in terms of the value of a herniated disc injury.  The first is going to be the level of treatment that the plaintiff received.  There are three basic levels of treatment for disc herniation: (i) physical therapy; (ii) steroid injections; and (iii) spinal surgery.  The value of the case rises as the treatment level escalates and becomes more invasive and risky.

The next big factor is whether the MRI shows degenerative changes in the disc. Degenerative changes occur as the spinal disc tissue deteriorates with age. In some people this happens faster than others. What you see in many disc injury cases is that the car accident activates a preexisting degenerative condition in the disc. This will decrease the potential settlement value of a herniated disc injury. The third (and closely related factor) is the plaintiff’s age. Young plaintiffs do much better in herniated disc injury cases than older plaintiffs (in part because they are less likely to have degenerative issues). 

The fourth factor is whether the plaintiff’s treating doctor is willing to testify. Treating doctors often make more compelling witnesses than hired experts. This is particularly true in herniated disc cases, because the injury involves some level of subjectivity.  The fifth and most important factor is whether the herniated disc injury is permanent.  If the victim has to live with the injury for the rest of their lives, this has a great impact on the settlement value of the case.

How Much is Your Herniated Disc Case Worth?

The most effective way to estimate the likely settlement value of your own herniated disc injury, is by looking at results in prior herniated disc cases. Listed below are settlement and verdict results from prior accident cases in which the primary injury was a herniated disc. Look for cases with comparable valuation factors for herniated disc cases: level of treatment, plaintiff age, permanent injury, etc.

Herniated Disc Settlements & Verdicts




2019 – Maryland

Rear-end collision. Middle-aged, male plaintiff suffered herniated cervical disc requiring level 3 treatment (surgery). Anne Arundel County.

$236,254 – Verdict

2019 – Maryland

Drunk driving accident. Young, female plaintiff suffered cervical and lumbar disc herniations, as well as torn rotator cuff. Treatment level 2 with no permanent impairment. Baltimore County.

$89,762 – Verdict