Spinal Cord and Disc Injuries
The intervertebral discs lie between each vertebrae (the bones of the spine). They are gel-like cushions that not only hold together the bones of the spine but act as the cushion of the spine so that we can bend back and forth and side to side without bone on bone friction. These discs, by their nature of being soft and flexible, are also subject to rupture. Following a serious auto accident, the movement of the spine can be so severe that the vertebrae punctures or ruptures the disc. These injuries to the intervertebral discs cause tremendous pain not only because you now have less cushion between your vertebrae, but also because the material within the disc can leak out and press upon the nerves in your spinal column. Often, when this occurs, back surgery to remove the damaged disc and its contents, and on occasion fusion of the adjoining vertebrae, is necessary.
More and more of these cases are winding up in litigation and that is why it is essential to hire an aggressive and experienced attorney. What is the reason for the increase in litigation? For one, these are very serious injuries and in order to obtain fair value for a serious injury you often have to be willing to enter litigation. More importantly, however, these cases often result in litigation because the insurance company refuses to accept that the herniated disc was a result of a car crash, or slip and fall, etc.
The reason that insurance companies deny that they are responsible for this injury lies in our human anatomy. Over time, these discs begin to shrink and "dry out". It is for this reason that we lose height as we age. Also, excessive wear on the spine such as playing sports or working in a very physical profession, can cause damage to the discs of the spine. For this reason, insurance companies are quick to blame age (even if you are only 30 or so years old) and past experiences. I am currently litigating a case with a herniated disc because the insurance company alleges that my client suffered the disc injury not in the auto accident but because he is a weight lifter. If the insurance company does not believe that they are responsible for the disc injury, their offer will be very low and equal to an ordinary whiplash case.