Assume you suffered a serious back injury in a slip-and-fall accident. You filed a personal injury claim to try and receive compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.
Should you expect to receive a particular back injury settlement amount?
It is difficult to provide an average settlement amount for lower back injury claims. This is because the settlement value of these cases drastically varies.
For example, a relatively minor lower back injury case could settle for $25,000. But if you were in an accident that results in permanent and degenerative injuries, you might see a settlement offer in the six-figure area or more.
Note that any average back injury settlement value will vary depending on the following factors:
- the severity of the injury,
- the treatment you receive,
- whether you experienced any past lower back injuries,
- the evidence supporting your claim, and
- the assets of the at-fault party.
1. Does the severity of lower back injuries affect payout values?
Usually, yes. The general rule is that your final claim settlement will increase in value as the severity of your low back injuries increase.1
More severe injuries generally require more medical care and medical attention than minor injuries. This results in greater medical expenses. A fair settlement will therefore have to increase in order to fully compensate you for your additional medical bills.
Further, severe low back injury cases may involve:
- significant lower back pain (and sometimes chronic pain),
- permanent disability,
- a diminished quality of life, and
- loss of future earning capacity.
All of the above work to increase your non-economic damages in a case (for example, compensation for your pain and suffering and inability to care for your family).
Accident claims will usually settle for more as the value of your non-economic damages increases.
2. Will your medical treatment affect the value of your back injury claim?
Most often, yes. As with the severity of your injury, settlement values typically increase as the complexity and amount of medical treatment increases.
Again, this is largely because your medical expenses will rise as you receive more and more treatment. An insurance company will generally pay you more to help cover the cost of your growing medical bills.
Medical treatment for lower back injuries may include:
- physical therapy,
- medication, and
- injection therapy.
3. What about past injuries?
Many accident victims experience a low back injury prior to suffering from one in an accident.
These injuries are sometimes referred to as “pre-existing injuries.”
Some injury lawyers and claims adjusters will try and use these injuries to reduce a claim settlement.
The argument is that your pre-existing injury is the true cause of any pain and discomfort that results from an accident.
Example: Joe experienced a serious back strain in 2020 due to a sports accident. He received physical therapy for the injury and was put on medication.
In 2021, Joe is injured in a rear-end collision. He reinjures the same area of his back that he originally hurt in 2020.
If Joe files a personal injury claim, an adjuster will likely try to reduce a settlement by saying that Joe’s prior injury is the true cause of any discomfort he feels because of the car accident.
4. Can your evidence impact a settlement value?
It can, yes. The value of a personal injury case generally increases as your evidence grows and becomes more concrete.
The more evidence that you can gather for a low back case, then the easier it is to:
- prove that another person was at fault for your accident, and
- substantiate the extent of your injuries and pain.
Common evidence in these cases includes:
- pictures of the accident scene,
- pictures of your injuries,
- witness statements,
- surveillance video,
- medical records, and
- police reports.
Note that an injury lawyer can help you collect key pieces of evidence in low back injury cases. This is especially true when experts are necessary to explain:
- the nature of an injury, or
- impact of an injury.
5. Do the assets of an at-fault party impact settlement amounts?
They can. There are some low back cases when an at-fault party has:
- limited financial resources, and/or
- poor insurance coverage.
If an accident victim suffers a serious injury, then the at-fault party may not be able to fully compensate the victim for his/her losses.
Further, if poor insurance coverage, then an insurer will simply not have the ability to offer a high settlement.
In general, the “deeper the pockets” that an at-fault party has, the better the chance of a large settlement.
- Note that your lower back region is sometimes referred to as your “lumbar spine.” Common types of injuries to your lower back include sprains, strains, herniated disc injury, and spine injuries/spinal cord injuries. See National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website, “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.”