You should settle a back injury case for an amount that will cover all of your legal damages. An appropriate amount will depend on how badly you were hurt.
Some back injuries are relatively minor and may require less than $50,000. Others are permanently disabling and may require well over $1,000,000 to compensate you fully for your losses.
How can I calculate an average settlement amount for a back injury claim?
There is no “average” back injury, so there is no “average” settlement amount. However, you can calculate an adequate settlement for your particular case. Insurance adjusters and personal injury attorneys do this all the time. They usually use the multiplier method. This is a common settlement formula for car accidents.
The multiplier method adds up all of your economic damages. Then it estimates your non-economic damages by multiplying your economic damages by a number between 1 and 5. Then it adds your economic damages to this estimate of your non-economic damages.
Your economic damages are those that can be easily stated in a dollar amount. That dollar amount is usually given on
- a medical bill, or
- a repair bill for your property damages.
Economic damages also include your
Your wage loss can be calculated from your salary or your hours missed from work because of your back injury. Your reduced earning capacity is trickier. It often requires expert testimony about your ability to work in the future with any disabilities you have suffered.
The multiplier method then uses this total to estimate your non-economic damages, as well. These types of damages are losses from the accident that cannot easily be put in a dollar amount. They cover things like your
They also include your family’s loss of consortium.
The multiplier method estimates these non-economic damages by multiplying your economic damages by a number between 1 and 5. The number is chosen based on how much the accident has impacted your life.
- Life-shattering accidents get a multiplier around 5.
- Accidents that only change your life for a month or so get a multiplier closer to 1.
Your economic damages and the estimate for your non-economic damages are then added together. This can give you a good idea of what compensation you deserve.
For example: Jerry is in a rear-end collision and suffers a serious back injury. His medical expenses are already $250,000. He will likely spend another $80,000 on future medical care for physical therapy and pain medications. He lost an entire year from working a job that paid $60,000 per year. He is permanently disabled and cannot work, but has 10 years to go before retirement age. Therefore, his earning capacity has been reduced by $600,000. His $10,000 car was also totaled. All told, his economic damages are $1,000,000. The insurance company and Jerry’s personal injury lawyer agree on a multiplier of 4.5 to estimate his non-economic damages at $4,500,000. Based on this calculation, a fair settlement offer would be $5,500,000.
Should I ask for more than this in a back injury settlement amount?
Yes, you should usually ask for more in a personal injury settlement. Generally, once you calculate what a fair settlement amount would be, you should ask for 2 to 3 times more. This sounds high. However, personal injury settlements are a negotiation process. The insurance company is likely to make an initial settlement offer that is extremely low. Asking for an amount in the demand letter that is well above what you may deserve can be wise. Over the course of the negotiation, your lawyer and the insurer will compromise. The amount that you agree upon is likely to be somewhere close to the amount you calculated.
How does this compare to other car accident settlements?
After a car accident, you can suffer a wide variety of injuries. Some tend to be more severe than others. While back injuries can be relatively minor, they can also be far more severe than other types of injuries. Because the severity of your injuries will drive the car accident settlement amount, back injuries have the potential for a higher settlement than for other types of injuries.
There is a wide spectrum of back injuries. Even nearly identical injuries, like a herniated disc, can be fairly minor for one victim and debilitating for another. This is largely because the spinal cord is a complex system of nerves. A slipped or bulging disc in one victim can pinch a nerve and cause excruciating pain and disabilities. In another victim, no nerves are impacted and the injury is fairly minor.
As a result, it is hard to compare car accident cases involving a back injury to motor vehicle accident settlements that involve other injuries.
However, some examples of car accident injuries that are usually less severe than a back injury are:
- soft tissue injuries,
- a minor case of whiplash,
- strained tendons,
- sprained ligaments,
- pulled or torn muscles,
- contusions, and
- certain broken bones, like a broken:
- finger, or
- facial bone, often from the impact with the steering wheel or airbag.
Accidents involving these injuries generally lead to lower settlements.
Meanwhile, car crashes that cause the following serious injuries are usually more severe than a back injury:
- traumatic brain injuries (TBIs),
- dismemberment of a major body part,
- neck injuries causing paralysis, and
- fatal injuries.
Car accident claims that cause these injuries frequently settle for higher amounts. After fatal injuries, they are filed by the victim’s loved ones in a wrongful death claim.
A car accident lawyer can help you recover what you deserve from the at-fault driver.
What other personal injury cases can lead to lower back or neck injuries?
Auto accidents are not the only way for you to suffer a back injury. You can also suffer one in the following types of accidents:
- slip and fall cases,
- motorcycle accidents,
- scooter accidents,
- medical malpractice,
- truck accidents,
- workout injuries involving a personal trainer’s negligence,
- horseback riding accidents,
- school sports injuries, and
- workplace injuries.
Some of these incidents can lead to severe back injuries. You can usually recover compensation for them by filing a personal injury lawsuit. For work-related back injuries, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation, instead.
What are some common back injuries?
Some common back injuries that you can suffer in accidents caused by someone else’s negligence are:
- whiplash and other soft tissue injuries,
- broken or fractured ribs near the spinal cord,
- back pain, especially in the lower back, shoulders, or neck,
- ligament sprains,
- slipped or broken vertebrae,
- broken spinal cord and other spinal cord injuries,
- herniated discs, and
- pinched nerves.
Many of these back injuries can cause complications that require extensive medical treatment. Some of these complications include:
- cervical spine injuries, which can limit the use of your arms,
- lumbar spine injuries, which can limit the use of your legs,
- chronic pain, and
- degenerative disc disease.
Many of these severe injuries can drastically reduce your quality of life. Many lead to a permanent disability. Unfortunately, these complications may not be apparent right after the accident. Doctors may only find them well into your recovery through the use of:
- a CT scan,
- X-rays, or
- an MRI.
Accident victims should strongly consider establishing an attorney-client relationship with a lawyer from a reputable law firm. Filing a personal injury claim can lead to the payout that you deserve. A lawyer’s help can maximize the settlement value of your case. They can use your medical records to prove the severity of the injury. They can also overcome the insurance company’s claim that it was a pre-existing injury.