How Much Is a Back Injury Worth in an Accident?

August 23, 2023 | David Abels
How Much Is a Back Injury Worth in an Accident?

To determine how much a back injury is worth in an accident case, a personal injury attorney must review medical records, speak with healthcare professionals, and consider every type of harm that the back injury causes.

Determining a back injury’s cost involves far more than a simple calculation. In fact, an attorney may need to conduct a complex investigation to project the future cost of your damages. The difficult nature of back injury cases is one reason injured people often hire personal injury lawyers in Chicago to represent them.

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Common Types of Back Injuries That You May Seek Compensation For

Your back is a network of muscles, bones, joints, nerves, and tissues, each of which you can injure. The interconnected nature of the back also means that an injury to one region of your back can cause dysfunction throughout, resulting in secondary injuries.

Some common ailments affecting the back include:

  • Spinal cord injuries: Broken vertebrae, pinched nerves, herniated disks, and other spinal cord injuries can cause immense pain and other severe symptoms. Complete spinal injuries cause loss of nerve function that may paralyze you.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Muscle strains and lumbar sprains are among the soft-tissue injuries that can affect your back. These injuries are associated with sharp pain that may worsen without treatment.
  • Dislocations: Dislocated vertebrae and dislocations of other bones in the back can cause pain and prevent normal bodily function.
  • Punctures: If a sharp object penetrates your back, you may suffer muscular and skeletal trauma.

Back injuries can happen in various ways, and the cause of your injury may dictate the type of injury you suffer and its severity.

Back injuries may result from:

  • Blunt force trauma
  • Punctures
  • Twisting
  • A sudden back-and-forth motion, including of your head and neck
  • A strenuous lifting motion
  • Unnatural motions, such as rolling over in a vehicle
  • Other motions or events that put your back in an unnatural position or cause unsustainable stress

You may recover compensation if you can trace your injuries to a specific event or circumstances.

Potential Symptoms and Consequences of a Back Injury

The back injury symptoms you experience will depend on the nature and severity of your specific injury. Back injury symptoms can range from annoying to debilitating and may include:


Pain is a common symptom of back injuries, from dislocated vertebrae to muscle strains. Pain may be dull or acute and can come and go or affect you more consistently. The location of the pain will depend on the nature and location of the injury.

Workplace back injury

In addition to pain, you may experience stiffness that limits your range of motion. Pain and stiffness can significantly alter your quality of life, daily routine, ability to work, and virtually every aspect of your day-to-day existence.

Abnormal Sensation

Back injuries that cause nerve damage may result in:

  • Loss of feeling in certain body parts, possibly including hands and feet
  • Numbness that comes and goes
  • Nerve pain
  • Tingling
  • Other changes in sensation in affected body parts

These kinds of symptoms can lead to further injury. For example, if you lack full sensation in your hands, you may suffer burns because you cannot adequately gauge the heat of objects you touch.

Loss of Muscular Control and Coordination

Certain back injuries cause muscle weakness and numbness, which can affect your coordination.


In the most severe cases, back injuries cause paralysis. This generally occurs when nerves in the spinal cord are severed or damaged in other severe ways.

Paralysis may mean you cannot:

  • Move body parts affected by the nerve damage
  • Control urination and bowel function
  • Walk
  • Control muscle spasms, pain, and other symptoms that cause immense distress

Psychological Distress

Back injuries aren't just physical injuries.

Countless back injury victims suffer from:

  • Depression
  • Lost quality of life
  • Suicidality
  • Other severe psychological and emotional symptoms

Injuries that cause recurring pain, heal slowly, or result in paralysis may leave you in distress. Your personal injury lawyer will work with experts to identify your physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms.

Types of Accidents That Cause Back Injuries

Personal injury lawyers represent clients who have suffered back injuries in:

Auto Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common cases personal injury lawyers handle, and countless accident victims pursue compensation for back injuries.

Auto accidents that cause back injuries include:

  • Car accidents 
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Rideshare accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents

When vehicles collide, roll over, or stop suddenly, the unnatural force on the occupant can result in one or more back injuries.

Pedestrian Accidents

You can suffer serious back injuries if a car hits you while walking. Whether you are crossing at a crosswalk or walking through the grocery store parking lot to your car, a vehicle-pedestrian collision can result in severe trauma to your body, including your back and all its moving parts.

Slip and Fall


Certain falls can cause back injuries, including:

  • Slip and falls
  • Trip and falls
  • Falls from heights

Falls can happen anywhere, but work sites, nursing homes, and businesses with heavy foot traffic may pose an outsized risk of falls.

Physical Assaults

Intentional physical violence can result in back injuries. Anyone who assaulted you may face criminal charges for the harm they’ve caused you. Regardless of any criminal proceedings, you can seek compensation from the liable party who physically injured you.

Boat Accidents

The physical toll of a boat accident can leave victims with severe back injuries. Boats lack certain protections that motor vehicles do, including seatbelts, enclosures, and airbags. Therefore, when a boat strikes another boat, runs aground, or the driver operates the vessel erratically, there is a significant possibility of injury.

Animal Attacks

Animal attacks, including dog bites, can cause wounds directly to the back or may cause a victim to fall and suffer back injuries.

These are just a few examples of circumstances that can cause back injuries. If you suffered a back injury in any other circumstances for which someone else is responsible, a lawyer can help you seek fair compensation.

Should I Hire a Lawyer to Seek Compensation for a Back Injury?

It's your decision whether to hire a personal injury lawyer after suffering a back injury. As you decide, you should know the potential benefits of hiring an attorney. Those with back injuries hire personal injury lawyers because:

Back Injuries Require Medical Attention

Those suffering from back injuries may:

  • Have obligations to see doctors and receive medical treatment
  • Be required by their doctor to rest and avoid stress on their back
  • Need mental health treatment for the circumstances surrounding their back injury
  • Be physically and psychologically drained due to the injury 

Your health should be your priority right now. If you were to handle your own insurance claim or lawsuit, you’d have to commit significant time, effort, and attention to the fight for compensation.

If you hire a lawyer, you can continue to prioritize your health as your attorney handles the claim or lawsuit for you.

Lawyers Offer Experience and Knowledge That You May Not Have

Law firms that handle back injury cases handle claims and lawsuits daily. This gives a lawyer a level of experience that you likely do not have.

Additionally, lawyers understand the various laws and rules that govern insurance claims and lawsuits. Rather than learning these laws and rules for yourself, you can simply rely on a lawyer’s existing knowledge.

Law Firms Cover the Cost of Back Injury Cases

Personal injury lawyers generally offer contingency fees.

This fee structure means that:

  • You won’t pay anything upfront to hire the law firm
  • The law firm will pay filing fees, expert fees, administrative costs, and all other expenses related to your case
  • The law firm generally receives a reasonable percentage of any financial recovery it secures for you (including any settlement or verdict)
  • The law firm receives a fee only if they win your case

This fee structure ensures that a law firm can represent anyone regardless of their financial means. Furthermore, the law firm has a strong financial incentive to secure the client as much money as possible. The more money the law firm secures, the larger its share of the winnings becomes.

You May Recover Significant Compensation for Your Back Injury

Back injuries sometimes require surgery, long-term medical care, and rehabilitation. These injuries can also cause immense pain and suffering. Such costly economic and non-economic damages can translate into a large settlement value.

When significant compensation is at stake, many prefer to have a proven professional leading their case.

What Compensation Should Someone With a Back Injury Recover?

Each individual with a back injury has unique damages. Lawyers speak with clients, consult experts, and conduct case-by-case investigations to identify their clients' damages. Some possible damages in your back injury case include:

Pain and Suffering

Back injuries can throw one's life into disarray, causing pain and suffering, including:

  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Lost quality of life
  • Sleep problems

In some cases, including auto accident cases, plaintiffs may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and other diagnosable conditions.

These are technically non-economic damages, but your attorney will determine their financial cost.

Lost Income, Lost Earning Power, and Other Professional Damages

A back injury will prevent many people from working, even just temporarily.

If you miss any time from work because of your back injury, you may recover compensation for:

  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning power
  • Missed bonuses and promotions
  • Lost benefits

You may also deserve compensation if you receive psychological benefits from working and you lose those benefits because of a back injury.

Medical Expenses

Medical expenses related to a back injury may result from ambulance transport, diagnostic imaging, surgery, medications, doctor visits, and any other medical services you receive.

Those with disabling injuries, including spinal cord injuries, may also need medical equipment, disability-related updates to their home, a new vehicle, and in-home care.

Other Damages Unique to Each Case

You may have additional damages related to the circumstances in which your back injury happened. For example, someone who suffers a back injury in a truck accident may need compensation to replace their vehicle.

Your lawyers will account for current and future damages while fighting for your financial recovery.

What Does a Back Injury Lawyer Do for Their Clients?

An attorney pursues compensation covering all of their client's injury-related losses and works toward this mission by:

  • Managing the day-to-day duties of the case: From filing paperwork to leading communications, a lawyer will ensure that the case moves forward efficiently.
  • Securing evidence as the foundation of the claim or lawsuit: Your lawyer won't delay gathering evidence to support your case. Your compensation case may only be as strong as the evidence your lawyer gathers.
  • Documenting the client’s damages: Documentation proves exactly which damages you suffered because of your back injury. Medical bills, past income statements, and expert testimony may all be essential forms of documentation.
  • Leading settlement negotiations: In addition to counseling and protecting you, your lawyer will negotiate on your behalf. When seeking a lawyer, review past case results to see how the firm has successfully negotiated for its clients.
  • Completing a trial, if necessary: If settlement negotiations don’t lead to a fair offer, your lawyer may take your case to the courtroom.

Your lawyer will represent you from the moment you hire them to the end of your case.

Gary Annes Attorney for Car Accident in Chicago
Gary Annes Car Accident Lawyer in Chicago

Retain a Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Your case likely has a filing deadline, so don’t wait to retain a personal injury lawyer. Research attorneys in your area and take advantage of free consultations, which most firms offer.

David Abels Author Image

David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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