You may have suffered a serious disc injury in a car accident and want to know what is a fair settlement worth.
There are many factors that go into this evaluation. For this discussion let us assume that the wrongdoer is 100% at fault. So the question is just was your injury caused by the accident and the nature and extent of it.
Since this issue is significantly complicated I will present this in a 5 part series:
1 What is a disc injury
2. Legal damages for money compensation
3. Damage factors used to analyze settlement
4. Different Injuries the range of settlement and use of Calculator formula
5. Adding Your Damages for Fair Compensation - Summing it Up -2 Big Mistakes
WHAT IS A DISC INJURY
A disc joint is made up of boney vertebrae that house the spinal canal. Between the hard vertebrae lies the soft disc. The soft disc is made up of two parts . The inside is a jelly like substance called the nucleus pulposus. The outer part is the tougher fibrous area called the annulus fibrosus. This fluid (water)-filled jelly sack, similar to the inside of the gum you can bite into and the middle squirts out, can be pushed out by compressive forces down the spinal column. The disc provides a shock-absorbing effect that dissipates these compressive forces across multiple levels in the spine and still allows for the flexibility required for performing normal activities of daily living.
The spinal cord is a direct continuation of the brain that passes through a hole in the skull (foramen magnum or big hole) and through holes in each vertebra called the spinal canal. In-between each pair of vertebrae are holes on both the right and left through which branches of the spinal cord run called nerve roots. In the cervical spine these nerve roots travel down the arm and control the muscles of the arms and all the muscles around the shoulder and shoulder blades as well as the feeling in the arms. In the thoracic spine they run around the ribs and to the internal organs and in the lumbar spine they run to the sexual organs and the hips, thighs, legs, and feet..
Lets talk about disc terminology. As there is much confusion as to the meanings of bulge, protrusion herniation, and degeneration of a disc. The American Journal of Neuroradiology has some excellent definitions.
A disc bulge means that contour of the outer rings (annulus) extends, or appears to extend, in the horizontal (axial) plane beyond the edges of the disc space, greater than 50% (180 degrees) of the circumference of the disc and usually less than 3mm beyond the edges of the vertebral body.
A disc herniation is a "localized displacement of disc material beyond the normal margins of the intervertebral disc space." "Herniated disc generally refers to displacement of disc tissues through a disruption in the annulus." "Herniated disc is sometimes referred to as "herniated nucleus pulposus," but the term herniated disc is preferred because displaced disc tissues often include cartilage, bone fragments, or annular tissues. The term "ruptured disc" is used synonymously with herniated disc, but is more colloquial and can be easily confused with violent, traumatic rupture of the annulus or end-plate." "The term herniated disc does not infer knowledge of cause, relation to injury or activity, concordance with symptoms, or need for treatment."
A protruded disc is "disc in which disc tissue beyond the disc space is contained within intact annulus." "A disc that has broken through the outer annulus at the apex, but maintains a broad continuity at the base, is protruded and uncontained. While sometimes used as a general term in the way herniation is defined here, the use of the term protrusion is best reserved for sub-categorization of herniations meeting the above criteria." The outer ring of the annulus has not been breached, in other words, no disc material has completely squirted through the outer edges of the disc.
DISC DEGENERATION (Degenerative Disc Disease)
As a part of the aging process, the discs begin to lose their high water content and their ability to dissipate force as efficiently. By the age of 35, approximately 30% of people will show evidence of disc degeneration at one or more levels. By the age of 60, greater than 90% of people will show evidence of disc degeneration at one or more levels on MRI. In some patients, this disc degeneration can be asymptomatic; in others, disc degeneration can lead to intractable back pain. The amount of disc degeneration - what many doctors call degenerative disc disease - frequently has no relationship to pain at all. Lack of flexibility and muscle weakness must be addressed when treating disc degeneration.
We will come back to disc degeneration later as this is the defense many times used to argue that your injury was already there and not caused by the car accident.
But the critical point of these definitions is that the conditions all can be the source of injury. In addition it is important to keep in mind that there are other conditions such as muscle and ligament and facet injury in the spine that can be the source of pain.
Dr. Fred Turner states, "Don’t be confused by the terminology! The implication is, that a herniation is worse than a bulge; or that if bulge or herniation is not touching a nerve, that it will not be painful. These are common misconceptions that are held by doctors, as well as lay-people! THE KEY ISSUE IS THE ANNULAR TEAR!! The annular tear is, in and of itself, painful. And, it is the character of the annular tear, (i.e., how big it is, and whether it is longitudinal or radial), that determines whether the disc will bulge or herniate. The annular tear is analogous to a hole in a tire. The size of the hole determines if the tire will have a blow-out, or a slow-leak." Dr. Turner continues, "The truth is, in the vast majority of cases of low back pain, the bulge or herniation does NOT touch the nerve. And, when the bulge or herniation does touch the nerve, it causes LEG pain, not BACK pain! As our knowledge of low back pain has grown over the years, we have had to adjust our thinking. This misconception, however, seems to persist, despite what we have learned."
SOURCE: Dr. Fred Turner.
Patients with disc herniations in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spine can present with neck pain, back pain, arm pain, leg pain or any combination of the above. As explained above, the pain may be due to the bugling or herniated disc pressing on either the spinal cord or a nerve root and/or due to the damage to the disc itself. The disc has its own nerve called the sinuvertebral nerve which monitors mechanical and chemical stimuli and whose purpose is to perceive pain.
For questions about your Cincinnati back disc car accident injury claim call Cincinnati personal injury lawyer Anthony Castelli 1-800-447-6549