Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries are common in many different accidents, including car crashes, falls, and workplace incidents. A serious back injury can cause chronic pain and permanent disability. A back injury could prevent an individual from returning to his or her place of work. It can also cause intangible losses such as being unable to pick up one’s child. The average settlement for a back injury will vary depending on the victim’s specific damages. that is why it’s best to work with a personal injury lawyer near you.
Types of Back Injuries and Related Settlement Values in California
A back injury can refer to many different types of damages to the spinal cord, as well as its vertebra, discs, fluids, or nerves. Some back injuries are mere inconveniences, while others can cause lifelong loss of movement and sensation below the point of injury. The different levels of back injuries make for correspondingly different settlement amounts. In general, the more serious the injury, the greater the settlement value.
- Back sprain or strain
- Slipped spinal cord disc
- Ruptured disc
- Nerve damage
- Spinal fracture
- Severed spinal cord
Injuries toward the top of the list may receive smaller settlement offers, while severe injuries toward the bottom of the list are likely worth more over the lifetime of the victim. The lifetime costs of living with a serious spinal cord injury can exceed $1 million. Insurance companies in California will base a settlement amount on the victim’s compensable damages. The more damage the back injury causes to the claimant, the more the insurer will offer in compensation during settlement negotiations.
Compensable Damages for a Back Injury in California
The exact amount a back injury victim could receive in a settlement will depend on the individual’s specific damages. Damages refer to the losses the victim suffered because of the accident and back injury. Damages will vary from case to case depending on the extent of the injury and the treatments required. Most back injury claims, however, will have the same or similar types of damages available.
- Medical expenses. The medical costs of treating a back injury can be exorbitant. For any level of incomplete motor function in the spinal cord, a patient could be looking at $347,000 in medical costs for the first year and $40,000 every year thereafter. These expenses can increase to over $1 million for high tetraplegia.
- Lost wages. Most victims of back injuries cannot return to their previous jobs because of their debilitating conditions. This leads to lost wages and the loss of future earning capacity. Victims can demand payment for these losses in past and future income.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Back injuries can cause significant emotional damage. The victim could recover compensation for emotional distress, physical anguish, and lost quality of life due to the back or spine injury.
- Loss of consortium. A paralyzing back injury could give the victim grounds for loss of consortium damages. This can include the loss of a normal loving relationship, including a marital sexual relationship, because of the back injury.
- Punitive damages. A judge in California may award punitive damages if he or she believes compensatory damages have not adequately made up for the victim’s losses. Punitive damages are most common in cases involving a defendant’s intent to harm, maliciousness, or gross negligence.
Calculating the potential value of your back injury claim may take help from an attorney. An attorney can help you gather evidence of your losses, such as medical bills and lost wage reports, and calculate the full amount of past and future economic damages. Then, your lawyer can estimate the worth of noneconomic damages by looking at how significantly the back injury affected your life. Finally, your attorney can take over settlement negotiations with insurance companies to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.