The average car accident settlement for back and neck injuries could range from $50,000 to $500,000 or more depending on the severity of your injuries, pain and suffering experienced, the cost of your medical bills and more.
According to research by the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal, more than 800,000 cervical spine injuries occur from car accidents each year in the U.S. Countless other times, car accident victims experience disc herniation, neck sprains, pinched nerves, fractures and other injuries.
If you’ve experienced a neck or back injury in a car accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation. While there’s no bulletproof method to determine the exact amount your case is worth, we’ve outlined factors that could impact your case, common back injuries and more below.
If you think you have a case, it could be time to contact a car accident lawyer for a free consultation.
Table of Contents:
- What Is The Average Back And Neck Injury Settlement Worth?
- Factors That Could Impact Your Settlement
- Common Neck and Back Injuries
- Common Symptoms of Back and Neck Injuries
- How Severe Is Your Injury?
- How to Prove Your Back and Neck Injury
- Dealing With Lowball Settlement Offers
- If I’m Partially At-Fault Can I Still Receive a Settlement?
- How Long Do I have To Pursue a Settlement?
- Next Steps
What Is The Average Back And Neck Injury Settlement Worth?
Unfortunately, there is no true average car accident settlement for neck and back injuries. No two car accident cases are the same. Your case could range anywhere from around $50,000 to $500,000 or more.
That said, some examples of past settlements we’ve helped clients received include:
- Motorcycle accident – $500,000
- Motorcyclist awarded $500,000 after hitting a car pulling out onto the street
- Motorcycle accident – $625,000
- Motorcyclist broadsided by vehicle causing shoulder, hip and facial injuries
- Auto accident – $500,000
- Driver suffered pelvic fractures from a truck driver that was falling asleep
- Auto accident – $250,000
- Victim hit by a drunk driver, resulting in permanent brain damage
Depending on your situation, your settlement could be less or more than those recorded above.
Factors That Could Impact Your Settlement
The below factors could impact the value of your settlement.
The Severity of Your Injuries
Severe injuries will likely earn you more compensation than minor ones. In extreme cases, you might need compensation for long-term medical care, assistance devices or surgery.
Spinal cord injuries could be particularly costly, mostly due to neurological damage. Research from the Global Spine Journal determined the cost of the first year of medical care for spinal cord injuries ranges from $290 to over $600,000.
Lifetime costs for spinal cord injuries can be even more costly, resulting in an even larger settlement. According to Statista, lifetime spinal cord injuries can range from $1.3 million to $5.8 million as of 2022.
Lost Earning Potential
At the very least, a serious injury will require medical appointments that will put you out of work. Depending on the severity, the injury could require you stop working for months or switch career paths altogether.
This can spell disaster, particularly when your family is relying on your income to survive. Luckily, it’s possible to receive compensation for these lost wages in a settlement.
Pain and Suffering
Car accident injuries can be physically and emotionally traumatic. You might have to undergo painful surgeries and exert months or years of effort to fully recover. In the meantime, it can be a blow to one’s self-esteem to have to rely on others or quit the hobbies you used to enjoy before your injury.
Unfortunately, it’s possible the pain from an accident could last a lifetime. A study by the European Spine Journal concluded that those who experienced back injuries from car accidents were much more likely to experience future lower-back pain.
It’s important to take into account how you suffer when negotiating a settlement.
Your lawyer’s negotiation skill is one of the main factors that will impact the success of your settlement. They’ll help you gather and organize evidence to create a compelling case to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve.
Insurance Policy Limits
The policy limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is another huge factor that impacts your potential settlement. Unfortunately, you can only recover as much money as the policy limits unless you sue a defendant directly or bring an injury claim against another at-fault party.
Common Neck and Back Injuries
From minor sprains to bone fractures or paralysis, neck and back injuries occur all the time from vehicle collisions. Below are some of the most common injuries to look out for.
Whiplash is the most common neck injury after a car accident. An abrupt, back-and-forth jerk of your head could cause your soft tissues to overstretch or sprain.
Some common whiplash symptoms include:
- Difficulty with neck movement
- Neck pain, swelling or stiffness
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
- Numbness in arms, hands or shoulders
The symptoms of whiplash might not be immediately apparent, so it’s important to get checked by a physician ASAP following your accident. If untreated, the symptoms of whiplash could grow worse and result in lifelong pain.
Rubbery, soft discs are located in between the vertebrae in your spine. A car accident can knock these discs out of alignment. If a herniated disc presses on a nerve, it can cause leg pain and numbness.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- Pain down your leg (Sciatica): If you feel pain, burning or tingling sensations, numbness or weakness in your thigh, leg or foot, it could indicate disc herniation.
- Sitting pain: Sitting puts strain on your lower spinal discs, which can cause moderate to severe pain if you have a herniated disc.
- Pain from neck movement: After you herniate a disc, you may feel pain when moving your neck.
Numbness, tingling and pain can severely impact your everyday life. It’s important to receive treatment for disc herniation as soon as possible. You might need physical therapy, medications or ruptured disc removal surgery.
Your cervical bones in your neck are also known as vertebrae and are known as the C1 through C7 bones. These bones protect your spinal cord and allow your neck to move.
Patients need to be immobilized by first responders when a cervical fracture is suspected. Your injuries can be assessed after you are stabilized to find out the extent and location of the break. You may require surgery, traction or a neck brace for treatment, depending on the injury’s severity.
You may require months of rehabilitation and physical therapy and, unfortunately, cervical fractures can sometimes lead to permanent injury.
Lumbar Spine Injuries
If you’re feeling lower back pain after a vehicle collision, it could indicate a lumbar sprain. These are common after rear-end collisions. Lumbar spine injuries could require surgery or physical therapy.
Trauma from a car accident can result in lumbar stenosis or cervical stenosis. Lumbar stenosis indicates a narrowing of the spine in the lower back, while cervical stenosis indicates a narrowing of the spine in the neck.
Common spinal stenosis symptoms include:
- Burning pain down the legs (Sciatica)
- Numbness or tingling in the legs
- Loss of feet sensation
- Neck stiffness
If you’re diagnosed with spinal stenosis, you may need physical therapy, prescribed medications or surgical treatments.
Facet Joint Injuries
Facet joint injuries typically cause immediate pain. An injury to a facet joint can cause uneven pressure down your spine. Sometimes, a facet joint injury can lead to facet joint syndrome, which can be debilitating if left untreated.
Common Symptoms of Back and Neck Injuries
It’s imperative to seek medical attention immediately following an automobile accident. Even if you believe you aren’t injured, it’s important to have a medical professional confirm you’re in good health. After all, it’s common for car accident victims to experience delayed symptoms for issues like whiplash.
To help determine whether you’re injured, it’s good to know the most common back and neck injury symptoms. Common immediate symptoms include:
- Numbness or tingling down your buttocks and legs
- Shallowness of breath or breathing difficulty
- Loss of bowel control
- Stiffness or achiness around your spine
- Arm numbness
- Shoulder pain
- Sharp shooting pains in your neck
But not all symptoms take place immediately. The adrenaline released during the stress of a car wreck could distract you from underlying injury.
Some common delayed symptoms of back or neck injury include:
- Loss of strength
- Pinching sensations in your back, neck or shoulders
- Loss of vision or hearing
- Sore muscles
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in sleep habits
- Loss of appetite
- Increased feelings of panic or stress
- Swelling, bruising or belly pain
If you find that you’re experiencing any delayed symptoms, consult a medical professional so they can diagnose the issue.
How Severe Is Your Injury?
Determining the severity of your injury is important for both your settlement and the recovery process. Your doctors may need X-rays, CT scans or MRIs to properly diagnose your injuries.
Common questions doctors will ask include:
- Where is your pain?
- Do you have a history of back or neck pain?
- Can you rate your pain on a scale of 1-10?
- What type of car accident was it? A side impact or rear end collision?
- How fast were the vehicles going?
The more severe and costly your injury, the larger your car accident settlement could potentially be.
How to Prove Your Back and Neck Injury
To prove the validity of your injuries and maximize your settlement, you’ll want to document information and gather evidence immediately following the accident. Below are several things you should keep in mind to prove your claim.
With the help of a lawyer, organize and save any medical records relevant to your car accident. This will help validate your injuries and the cost of your treatments.
Medical records you should gather includes:
- Ambulance and emergency room records
- X-rays and MRIs
- Hospital bills
- Surgical records
- Psychological treatment records
- Prescription drug receipts
- Physical therapy sessions
- Specialist referrals
Basically any document that your doctor gives you following your treatment, you should keep. Your lawyer can help you determine which records will best bolster your case.
A Pain Journal
Writing down your symptoms, the degree of your pain and emotional suffering experienced following a motor vehicle accident can help increase your settlement. Your lawyer can use this to validate your claims and determine the value of your non-economic losses.
Photos and Videos of the Accident
To prove fault in a car accident case, it’s helpful to collect photo and video evidence of the crash and your injuries as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea to get statements and testimony from anyone nearby who witnessed the accident.
Your lawyer can help obtain expert medical witnesses to communicate the severity of your injuries to insurance adjusters. This could include accident reconstruction experts, biomechanics experts and more.
A Car Accident Attorney
A sharp attorney will help you:
- Gather evidence
- Prepare your evidence for trial
- Investigate your accident to prove fault
- Communicate with the other driver’s insurance company
- Meet legal deadlines
- Prove the validity of your injuries
- Negotiate a settlement
Insurance companies may claim you’re exaggerating your injuries or that you had pre-existing neck or back injuries. These claims will be used to try to pay you less. A sharp lawyer, however, will fight for your maximum settlement.
Dealing With Lowball Settlement Offers
You will probably receive a settlement offer from an insurance company very soon after your auto accident. It may be tempting to accept, particularly if you’re facing huge medical bills or unable to work.
However, insurance companies are known to lowball their first settlement offer. In addition, you’ll probably be in the hospital on pain medications which can impact your judgment, meaning it’s not a good time for you to make important financial decisions.
The true value of a neck or back injury settlement cannot be determined until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Thus, any settlement offer given to you before you reach MMI will likely be undervalued.
Having a lawyer by your side can help counter lowball offers to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
If I’m Partially At-Fault Can I Still Receive a Settlement?
California is a comparative negligence state, so you may be able to obtain a recovery for your injuries even if you are partially at fault. It’s just important that the other party is more responsible for the accident than you.
The way it works in California is this: if you are deemed 30 percent at fault for your own accident, the damages you recover in an injury case are simply reduced by 30 percent at the end of the case.
If the car accident is completely your fault, then it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a settlement. But even if you aren’t at fault, you should still hire a lawyer.
How Long Do I have To Pursue a Settlement?
Keep in mind that you’ll want to get started on pursuing a legal case as soon as possible. There comes a point in most states where you can no longer sue for compensation in a vehicle accident.
Each state has a different statute of limitations to report a personal injury. In California, claims must be reported within two years of your injury. That said, if your injury wasn’t immediately discovered, you have one year from the date of discovery to pursue a case.
What Should I Do If I Experience a Back or Neck Injury After a Car Accident?
The first thing you need to do after an accident is to seek medical attention. You might think that you’re fine, but often underlying injuries won’t be noticed immediately. A doctor will help you diagnose any injuries and get you on the road to recovery.
How Much Is My Neck And Back Injury Settlement Worth?
There’s no way to know how much your settlement will be worth until you go to court. Settlements can range from around $50,000 to $500,000 or more.
Will I Be Able To Receive Compensation for Pain and Suffering?
If you can prove the validity of your pain and suffering with medical testimonies, a pain journal and medical records, then you can receive compensation for it.
What Should I Do If I’m Experiencing Pain Months After The Accident?
Get in touch with an attorney to see if you have a personal injury case.
You shouldn’t have to go it alone against the insurance companies. The legal process is exhausting and the last thing you should have to deal with after suffering a back or neck injury in a car accident.
Instead, leave the legal responsibilities to us. Focus on recovering from your injuries while expert personal injury lawyers like Nadrich & Cohen handle negotiations with insurance companies and legal deadlines.
Call us today at 800-718-4658 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Our lawyers operate on contingency, so we only get paid if you receive compensation for your case.