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What You Should Know

How Does Property Damage Affect the Value of My Car Accident/Herniated Disc Case?

A skilled personal injury attorney should know how to handle a car accident case involving minimal property damage. Property damage to the vehicles involved in a collision is an unreliable indicator as to whether the people inside of the vehicles sustained an injury. Yet, defense attorneys and some plaintiff’s attorneys believe minor impact collision cases are sure losers at trial. I disagree. As an attorney who has handled hundreds of cases involving minimal property damage, I have seen a wide variety of outcomes from multiple different attorneys. I am convinced that the skill of the attorney presenting the case makes a huge difference in the result.

Our study of 100 herniated disc cases in Orlando, Florida, revealed 17 cases which involved allegations of minor property damage to the vehicles involved. Four of those 17 jury trials resulted in verdicts in favor of the defense. This means that 23.5% of the cases involving minor impacts resulted in defense verdicts, which is only slightly higher than the overall percentage (22%) of defense verdicts for the entire sample of 100. This indicates that minor impact collision cases can be won.

The problem with minimal property damage claims is that they tend to result in lower verdicts. According to our sample, the average verdict for herniated disc cases with minor property damage is $70,697.27. Compare this to the overall average of $121,905 for car accident/herniated disc cases in general. Without surgery, the average minor impact case resulted in a $26,185.36 verdict. With surgery, the average verdict was $134,285.71, which is only slightly lower than the average case with surgery involving a harder impact. The takeaway here is that if the injury is severe enough to require surgery, the jury is likely to overlook the severity of the impact.

Experienced attorneys often minimize the negative impact of minor property damage by hiring a biomechanical engineer to enlighten the jury about how minor impacts can cause severe injuries. Often, the plaintiff’s treating doctors have experience with minor impact collisions, and they can serve to educate the jury about the movement of a person’s body inside of a vehicle and how that movement can result in exactly the type of condition the plaintiff suffers. The closer the attorney can tie the type of impact to the area of the herniation, the more likely it is the plaintiff will have a favorable result. For instance, in a typical whiplash case, the movement of the plaintiff’s head front to back is more likely to result in a central disc herniation. In a T-bone collision case, the movement of the plaintiff’s head side to side is more likely to result in a left or right sided herniated disc, depending upon multiple factors.

Before/after witnesses, videos, and photographs are also important in minimizing the impact of the minor property damage photos. Good story telling by the plaintiff is also critical, and the plaintiff must maintain perfect credibility throughout the trial.

When determining the value of a case involving a minor impact collision, multiple additional factors should be considered, the most important of which is whether the herniated disc resulted in surgery. As always, I am happy to discuss the value of any particular case with anyone who calls me. Whether you are a fellow attorney seeking a second opinion or a potential client, please call me at (850)224-3310 to discuss the value of your particular case.