Average Disc Injury Verdicts and Settlements

disc injury verdicts

Disc Injury Values

JVR has done a national analysis of jury awards for spinal nerve with disc damage.

The study underscores what every plaintiffs’ lawyer has figured out by osmosis, if nothing else: age matters. Young people recover much better than older people.

The overall median award to plaintiffs age 18 and under was $43,997, while the median award to plaintiffs between the ages of 19 and 29 was $67,612. Plaintiffs between the ages of 40 and 59 who suffered spinal nerve with disc damage received a median award of $103,723, and plaintiffs age 60 and older received a median award of $100,000.

The interesting thing about the age numbers is that at some point, you see they turn again as juries increasingly blame age for the injuries. I bet if you took this up to 70 and 80, you would see the numbers continue to drop.

Anyway, these are the numbers:

Year Average Median Probability Range
2004 $300,098 $30,188 $10,000 – $196,487
2005 $273,270 $60,000 $17,500 – $222,000
2006 $301,403 $72,500 $20,895 – $267,000
2007 $323,738 $50,000 $15,500 – $250,000
2008 $347,952 $75,000 $25,499 – $272,958
2009 $393,635 $100,000 $30,000 – $350,000
2010 $363,410 $69,452 $25,000 – $257,500
Overall $336,424 $62,000 $19,316 – $250,000

In 2023, these numbers are higher. Twice as high, just like inflation? No.

What Is a Spinal Nerve with Disc Injury?

Several types of spinal nerve injuries can result from disc damage in the spine, including:

  1. Radiculopathy: This condition occurs when a nerve root in the spine is compressed, leading to pain, weakness, and that awful feeling of shooting pain.
  2. Sciatica: This type of radiculopathy affects the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down through the legs. Sciatica can cause pain, tingling, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs.
  3. Spinal stenosis: This is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots. It can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms or legs, depending on where the stenosis occurs in the spine.
  4. Herniated disc: This occurs when a disc in the spine ruptures or bulges, putting pressure on the nerve roots in the area. It can cause pain, weakness, and numbness in the area of the body served by the affected nerve roots.

Probability Range

I think the difference in the probability range jumps off the page at you. The difference between the two numbers is the low number is the 25th percentile, and the higher number is the 75th percentile. There are so many reasons a case ultimately has the value it does. But the single biggest value driver, and I flush this out more here, is whether there are preexisting symptoms that might lead a jury to believe that one of the contributing causes is something other than the traumatic event that is the subject of the lawsuit or claim. This is even more important than the victim’s age we discussed above.

If you have a herniated disc case with MRI or CT scan that shows definitively that the accident caused the injury and the injuries are significant, you likely have a case that will have a great value. Sometimes, these are “policy cases,” meaning the case’s value is whatever you can find in insurance coverage.

If you have a case where the radiology reports how preexisting injury or, worse, you had documented problems with the same disc you now complain was injured in the accident; you have a more significant problem. Is it one that can be solved? The answer is a big “it depends” on many factors. Some of these cases go past that 75th percentile rung on the probability range because they had a credible plaintiff and doctors who could articulate why the accident is the primary cause of the victim’s problems. But if the jury suspects that you already had this injury, and now you are trying to bundle up all of your problems and put them at the doorstep of the motor vehicle collision or other traumatic accident, you will have a tough hill to climb.

median verdicts settlements disc injuries

Disc Injury Verdicts and Settlements

  • 2022, Wyoming: $255,000 Verdict. Plaintiff suffered cervical disc damage, requiring three-level disc replacement, a low back fusion, and a rotator cuff injury, requiring surgery when he slipped and fell on oil in the walkway of a locomotive. The defense admitted liability but contested the scope and nature of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries.
  • 2022, Colorado: $64,762 Verdict. Plaintiff was rear-ended by the defendant while stopped at a red light. The plaintiff claimed injuries, including C5-C6 disc herniation with C6 nerve root compression, radiculopathy, and L4-S1 annular tears with a 25 percent whole body permanent impairment rating.
  • 2021, Washington: $75,000 Verdict: plaintiff, a female in her mid-40s, was in a low-impact rear-end collision. She claimed that the collision caused her to suffer a herniated disc in her cervical spine, which required surgery to correct.
  • 2020, New York: $2,000,000 Settlement. A 56-year-old fell 10 feet off a roof he was working on and landed on the ground. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he underwent minor treatment. He suffered C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1 herniations. The man also suffered C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, L3-4, and T8-9 bulges. Besides his disc injuries, he sustained a SLAP lesion, bilateral ankle derangement, a right ankle tear, and a left ankle contusion. He underwent three arthroscopic surgeries to address his left shoulder and right ankle within a year. The man also underwent physical therapy, rehabilitation therapy, and nerve-block injections in his lumbar region. He claimed his residual pain and limitations prevented him from returning to work. The man also claimed he would need to undergo arthroscopic surgery to his right ankle and surgical fusion to his lumbar spine. He sued the premises’ owners and the general contractor for failing to provide safe working conditions. This case resolved for a settlement amount of $2 million.
  • 2020, New York: $3,500,000 Settlement. A 31-year-old man fell 13 feet, landing in 3 feet deep water inside an underground vault beneath a sidewalk. Police removed him from the vault, and he was transported to the hospital, where the staff treated him for hypothermia. The following day, he visited another hospital, complaining of neck, back, and left arm pain. He was diagnosed with C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, C7-T1, T1-T2, L3-4, and L4-5 herniations. The man also claimed residual spinal nerve impingement and radiating pain to his left arm. He sought acupuncture treatment, chiropractic therapy, and physical therapy. These treatments failed to resolve his condition. He then underwent a discectomy to replace his C5-6 and C6-7 discs. He underwent physical therapy and painkilling injections in his neck after the surgery. He claimed that his condition improved, but he continued to suffer pain and limitations that affected his ability to perform manual labor. The man had not worked since the accident. He sued the vault’s maintainer for negligently maintaining the vault’s door. His counsel alleged that the bolts that secured the door’s hinges were dislodged or broken. They argued that this caused the door to open, which allowed the man to fall through. This case settled for $3,500,000.
  • 2020, Washington: $40,000 Verdict. A 16-year-old student’s vehicle was struck head-on. She suffered an L5-S1 disc protrusion and cervical sprain. The teenager alleged that the tortfeasor negligently failed to yield the right-of-way before turning left. They admitted liability. A jury awarded the teenager a $40,000 verdict.
  • 2020, Texas: $25,288 Verdict. A woman suffered C6-7 and L4-S1 bulges after she was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. She sued the other driver for negligence, alleging that they failed to maintain a proper lookout, maintain a reasonable speed, pay attention to the road, and timely apply their brakes. The tortfeasor admitted liability but denied that the woman suffered severe or permanent injuries. A jury ruled in favor of the woman and awarded her a $25,288 verdict.
  • 2020, Florida: $74,500 Verdict. A man was rear-ended while stopped at a red light to pick up his wife. He felt immediate neck and back pain but picked his wife up and drove home. The man visited a walk-in clinic the following day. MRIs of his cervical and lumbar spine revealed C4-C6 and L2-L3 bulges and an L3-L4 herniation. His doctors opined that he suffered traumatic disc injuries directly caused by the collision. He underwent steroid injections to his lumbar spine. The man testified that he continued to experience back and neck pain that limited his physical activities. The defense counsel argued that the collision did not cause his lumbar and cervical injuries. They also maintained that the man’s injuries were not permanent. The jury found that the man did not suffer a permanent injury, but they awarded him a $74,500 verdict.
  • 2020, Oregon: $35,000 Settlement. A truck rear-ended a woman’s vehicle at an intersection. She suffered C6-7, L4-5, and L5-S1 protrusions. The woman also suffered sprains and strains to her cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines, with radiating pain to her lower extremities. This case settled for $35,000.
  • 2019, New York: $150,000 Verdict. A pedestrian slipped on a patch of ice on a sidewalk in Brooklyn. He lost consciousness, and an ambulance transported him to the hospital. The man remained there for about 24 hours. He was diagnosed with T11-12 and L3-4 protrusions, T12-L1 and L3-4 bulges, L3-4 retrolisthesis, lumbago, and cervicalgia. He sued the City of New York and the property owner for failing to timely and properly remove snow and ice that accumulated on the sidewalk. The man testified that he continued to experience residual pain that affected his ability to work as a barber.
  • 2019, Louisiana: $56,961 Verdict. A pickup truck ran a red light and T-boned a man’s vehicle at an intersection. He suffered C3-4, C4-5, C5-6, C6-7, and C7-T1 bulges as well as a C3-4 herniation. The man alleged that the tortfeasor failed to yield the right-of-way and recklessly operated his vehicle. The other driver denied liability. A jury awarded the man a $56,961 verdict.

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My firm has recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for victims with disc injuries. Call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online to discuss your options.


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