Posted by Edward LemmoJul 07, 20210 Comments

One of the mainstays of practicing personal injury law is to know how to successfully litigate and prosecute car accidents or other  accidents involving herniated discs. In the 1980s  I recall that these cases could be settled for good and fair compensation. Over the year and today the insurance companies for the offending vehicle have tried to erode and challenge at every turn  an injured victims right to compensation if they suffer a herniated disc in a car accident. 

The attorney handling these cases must learn the  terminology and obtain the MRI films if the client has been to a doctor who has ordered an MRI of their spine. The spine is broken down into three areas for purposes of this lecture.  First you have the cervical area , otherwise known as the Cervical spine.  Second you have the middle of the spine called the thoracic , and last you have the lower  spine called the  lumbar spine.  The spinal cord runs down from the brain into these areas. The spinous process is made up of  vertebra or bony structures , which support the spine. Between those bony structures are nerves that exit or come out of the spinal cord. . To serve as a cushion for the spine , to allow a person to bend and move are structures called discs. A disc has been described as

he adult spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. Some of the vertebrae are cushioned by soft disks made of a jellylike substance. These disks allow you to move your spine around and bend over. But if a disk between two vertebrae starts slipping out of place, it can irritate the surrounding nerves and cause extreme pain. The condition is called a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disk.


Signs of a Herniated Disk

But if a disk between two vertebrae starts slipping out of place, it can irritate the surrounding nerves and cause extreme pain. The condition is called a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disk. One sign may be where the pain is. Although herniated disks can happen in any part of your spine, they are most common in the lower part of your backbone (the lumbar spine), just above your hips. The pain may spread from your back to your buttocks, thighs, and even to your calves.

A herniated disk also can give you a feeling of tingling or numbness. The affected part of your back may also feel weak.

Age also plays a role. As you get older, your disks tend to break down and lose their cushioning. That makes a herniated disk more likely.

Herniated Disk Diagnosis

The best way to tell if you have a herniated disk is to see your doctor. They'll likely do a physical exam to find the source of your pain. This usually is the only test you'll need to confirm a diagnosis. In the upper spine there is a cervical compression test where  the doctor pushes on your head to see if you have symptom of a herniation. In the lower back a  clinical test called a straight leg raising test is one way a doctor can suspect a herniation.  It is done by you laying on your back and the doctor raising each leg to 90 degrees. If it causes pain or numbness you may have a herniated disc. Often a doctor will describe your symptoms as causing a radiating nerve pain  or numbness down from your neck into your hands and fingers or from your buttocks into your legs. 

It is important if  a doctor suspects a herniated disc to order an MRI or Magnetic Resonance Image test. It is a test used to exam soft tissue structures such as discs to see of the nerve roots are compressing either the covering of nerve or compressing the exiting spinal nerve root. You as the lawyer will have to obtain the MRI films and  report to see if it shows positive findings of a herniated or bulging disc . If it does then you must exchange  the MRI film  on the i defendants  lawyers .


If you survive a motion to dismiss for lack of a serious injury you must not only put the film into evidence at trial , but your expert must have reviewed the film before being permitted to comment on it in Court.  Once you have placed the MRI film showing the herniated disc into evidence, it can be shown to the jury through a computer and projector or placed on a board. It is a powerful piece of evidence to show a jury how the disc has been affected and herniated from the accident and pressing on the nerve.  Without placing  the film into evidence your expert will not be permitted  to comment on its findings . 


The most common defense raised by the insurance companies and their attorneys to to have their radiology expert come to Court to opine that if your over the age of 40 then your have a degenerative spine and that your pain and suffering comes from normal wear and tear on the spine due to age. You will need a radiology expert to overcome the defense and sometimes to state that the accident was traumatic and cause an aggravation of a pre- existing disc problem that was not bothering your or was asymptomatic. 


If you or a loved one have been in a car crash and have suffered a herniated or bulging disc , sometimes known as a protruding disc and need representation or a consultation , call Ed Lemmo of Lemmo Law. We are experienced in handling and trying herniated disc cases and have recovered significant money at trial or settlement for our clients who have sustained herniated discs.  Call today at 646-522-9082 and we will  answer any questions you may have. The  call is free and we wont recover any  money unless you retain or hire us and we recover money or settle your case. 

Thank you. 

Ed Lemmo