Last Updated: 1/4/2023
When a driver is in a car accident in Des Moines that results in herniated discs, he or she can seek compensation for this injury from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Injured drivers can seek both economic and noneconomic damages, but may face challenges proving causation and the extent of their damages.
Herniated Discs Symptoms and Prognosis
The spine consists of vertebrae and soft discs as well as the spinal cord. These discs act as a cushion for the vertebrae and help with flexibility. They are made of a hard covering (capsule) and a softer inner jelly-like substance (nucleus). A herniated disc occurs when the inner portion protrudes through a weak or damaged spot in the outer covering, pressing on nerves in the spinal column.
Doctors may first try to treat herniated discs with a combination of pain medications and physical therapy. If this doesn’t improve and manage the condition, the patient may have to undergo surgery to repair the damaged discs.
Surgeons can remove the protruding part of the disc or may remove the entire disc. If the entire disc is removed, the vertebrae have to be fused together or the surgeon has to insert a replacement disc in the gap. These procedures can result in months of recovery time in some cases.
Legal Recourse for Herniated Discs Caused By a Car Accident
If an injured driver can prove that a defendant was negligent and caused the accident and that the accident directly caused an injury, the driver may be entitled to compensation from the defendant, or the defendant’s insurer. Negligence broadly means failing to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others, so evidence of such behavior is important if pursuing a claim or lawsuit. Injured drivers may claim both economic and non-economic damages related to herniated discs.
Economic damages include things like:
- medical expenses;
- lost wages; and
- expenses traveling to and from medical appointments.
Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and emotional distress that arise from the accident.
Challenges to Proving a Case
Defendants may dispute that the accident directly caused the herniated discs and instead argue that the plaintiff already suffered from the herniated discs before the accident. In these cases, medical records from before and after the accident may demonstrate that the accident caused the herniated discs.
Iowa is a modified comparative fault state. This means that plaintiffs need to be 50 percent or less at fault in an accident to recover damages. Also, because the state follows a comparative fault theory, a plaintiff can only collect damages minus his or her proportion of fault. For example, if a claimant or plaintiff is 20 percent at fault in a $10,000 case, the claimant or plaintiff collects $8,000 from the defendant.
Drivers suffering from herniated discs caused by accidents that were no fault of their own should consult a lawyer. A lawyer can help drivers obtain compensation for their injuries by establishing the defendant’s fault and the extent of damages.
The attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair are committed to helping victims of car accidents pursue fair compensation for the damages they suffer. Contact our office in Des Moines at (888) 435-9886 to schedule a free case consultation.