Herniated Disc Claims in Texas: Comprehensive Legal Guide

Woman holding neck in pain with herniated disc after car accident.

Herniated discs are painful. They can change your whole life. If your back hurts after a car wreck, truck wreck, or work mishap, get checked out by a doctor right away. If you have a herniated disc, you may need time off work or even surgery.

In one study, 65 million Americans reported having recent back pain. And herniated discs are a common cause. As a Dallas personal injury lawyer, I see many clients with herniated discs. They are stressed about lost wages and medical bills.

If you’re in Texas and suffered a herniated disc due to someone else’s negligence, this guide can help. Here, you’ll learn about herniated disc claims and how to get legal help to seek compensation for your injury. Here’s an overview:

What’s a Herniated Disc?

Think of your spine as a stack of blocks (your vertebrae). In between each bone are circular soft tissues called discs. These discs are vital for healthy movement, acting as shock absorbers and keeping your spinal bones from rubbing together.

Each disc has two parts:

  • Annulus fibrosus: The tough outer ring made up of “annular fibers”. Think of it as the donut shell.
  • Nucleus pulposus: The soft, jelly-like center inside the disc.

A herniated disc happens when trauma, like a car accident or heavy lifting, tears the outer ring (annulus fibrosus). This causes the jelly-like fluid (the nucleus pulposus) to start leaking out. Imagine squeezing a jelly donut and the jelly oozing out the other side – that’s similar to a herniated disc.

Why Herniated Discs Hurt

Herniated discs can cause pain in several ways:

  • Inflammation: The leaking disc fluid can irritate surrounding tissues, causing inflammation and pain.
  • Radiating Pain: The bulging disc puts pressure on nearby tissues and nerves. If it pinches a spinal nerve, you might feel radiating pain down your arms or legs.
  • Loss of cushioning: A herniated disc flattens, losing its shock-absorbing ability. This can lead to painful friction between the spinal bones.
  • Muscle Spasms: The irritation and inflammation around a herniated disc can trigger involuntary muscle contractions (spasms) in the surrounding area. These spasms can be quite painful.

How Do I Know if I Have a Herniated Disc?

How Do I Know if I Have a Herniated Disc?

If you’ve been in an accident and have any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. They’ll help determine if it’s a herniated disc or another injury:

  • Severe back pain: This pain might be constant or come and go.
  • Pain shooting down your leg (sciatica): This is a classic sign of a herniated disc in your lower back.
  • Numbness or tingling: You might feel this in your back, legs, arms, or hands.
  • Weakness: The affected area might feel weak or harder to use.

Your doctor will likely ask about your accident and do a physical exam. They might recommend MRIs to get a clear picture of what’s happening with your spine.

Spotting a Herniation on an MRI

You can’t see a herniated disc on an X-ray or a CT scan. That’s because X-rays and CT scans do not show soft tissue. You need an MRI to view and measure a disc herniation.

  • A cervical MRI will show a herniated disc in the neck region of the spine.
  • A thoracic MRI will show a herniated disc in the upper back region of the spine.
  • A lumbar MRI will show a herniated disc in the lower back region of the spine.

A healthy disc is circular. But a herniated disc will look compressed or uneven on the side where the jelly is leaking. A radiologist will use the MRI images to measure the size of the herniation. Herniations are measured in millimeters.

How are Herniated Discs Treated?

Some herniated discs heal on their own with time. Others do not. Here’s what your doctor might recommend to manage pain and support healing:

  • Pain medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen or naproxen) or prescription medication can help manage pain.
  • Physical therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can strengthen your back muscles, improve flexibility, and reduce pressure on the herniated disc.
  • Steroid injections: Steroids injected near the herniated disc can reduce inflammation and pain. Multiple steroid injections may be necessary. In my experience, pain caused by a herniated disc often returns within a month or two after the initial steroid injection.
  • Surgery: Surgery is usually considered if less expensive treatments don’t help after several weeks or your symptoms are severe (like significant weakness or loss of bladder/bowel control). A surgeon can remove the herniated part of the disc or, in some cases, the entire disc.

How Can I Prove the Accident Caused My Herniated Disc?

This is where I come in as a personal injury lawyer. To win a client’s herniated disc case, I need to prove three key things:

  1. Negligence: I have to show that someone else’s careless actions caused your accident. For example, another driver might have run a red light and hit you, or your employer might have failed to provide a safe workplace.
  2. Causation: I need to prove that the incident in question caused your herniated disc. Insurance companies and their lawyers will often try to avoid responsibility by blaming your herniation on some other event or pre-existing condition. In my experience, insurance companies frequently blame disc herniations on age-related wear and tear, previous accidents, and subsequent accidents. When I evaluate causation, I look at the timing of the onset of symptoms. I ask potential clients two questions when evaluating causation: “How soon after the incident did your pain start?” and “Did you have the same type of pain during the weeks leading up to the incident?”
  3. Damages: Lastly, I need to demonstrate you have actual losses due to the herniation. This includes your medical expenses (bills for doctor’s visits, medication, surgery, an estimate of your future medical expenses, etc.), lost wages from being unable to work, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and money to make up for your pain and suffering, and other damages that may apply.

What Damages Can I Recover for a Herniated Disc Claim?

Every herniated disc case is unique, so the amount of compensation you might receive will vary. However, here’s a breakdown of the types of damages I typically seek for my clients:

  • Medical Costs: This covers all past and future medical expenses related to the herniated disc, including doctor visits, hospitalizations, medication, surgery, physical therapy, and any assistive devices you might need.
  • Lost Wages: If your herniated disc prevents you from working, you’re entitled to compensation for lost income. This includes both past wages lost while recovering and any future loss of earning potential if the injury impacts your ability to do your job.
  • Pain and Suffering: This covers the physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life caused by the herniated disc. While difficult to quantify, it’s a significant aspect of the compensation you may be entitled to.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Covers the inability to participate in hobbies, activities, or relationships as you did before your herniated disc injury.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: Covers the reduced ability to earn money in the future, even if you can return to some type of work.
Type of DamagesDescription
Medical CostsMedical expenses related to the herniated disc, including doctor visits, medication, surgery, physical therapy, and assistive devices. Includes past and future costs.
Lost WagesIncome lost due to inability to work, including past wages and potential future loss of earnings.
Pain and SufferingMoney that makes up for the physical pain, emotional distress, and overall reduced quality of life caused by the herniated disc.
Loss of Enjoyment of LifeCovers the inability to participate in hobbies, activities, or relationships as you did before the injury.
Loss of Earning CapacityCovers the reduced ability to earn money in the future, even if you can return to some type of work.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

In Texas, you generally have two years from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for negligence. This is called the statute of limitations. There are exceptions in some cases, which is why it’s crucial to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help With Your Herniated Disc Claim

If you think you have a herniated disc due to an accident, don’t navigate the complex legal system alone. Insurance companies will try to minimize your claim, and the process can be overwhelming.

Here’s how a personal injury lawyer can help you with your herniated disc claim:

  • Investigate and gather evidence: I’ll thoroughly investigate your accident, obtain necessary records (medical, police reports, etc.), and gather evidence to support your claim.
  • Deal with the insurance company: I’ll handle all communications with the insurance companies on your behalf and shield you from their tactics.
  • Protect you from common pitfalls: I’ll help avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your claim and ensure you receive the full compensation you’re entitled to.
  • Help you with medical bills: I’ll work to ensure you access the medical care you need and advise on options for handling medical bills while your case is pending.
  • Accurately value your claim: I’ll assess all your damages, both current and future, to help you understand what your claim is truly worth.
  • Negotiate a favorable settlement: I’ll fight for a fair settlement that meets your needs.
  • File a lawsuit and represent you in court: If the insurance company won’t offer a fair settlement, I’ll be ready to file a lawsuit and represent you in court.


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