Lower back pain resulting from a car accident or slip and fall is easily the most litigated issue in my experience. Why is this? Insurance companies’ business model is to collect premiums and avoid paying claims. The cause of lower back pain is often ripe for debate in the view of insurers. Why? Well, most people’s spines degenerate as they age. So, a 20-year-old spine will look a lot different than that same person at age 65. How different is very dependent upon the person and their activities. Often, your average construction worker will have a more degenerated spine than your sedentary office worker. Most doctors will also tell you that you may have no problems with your back, but have a very concerning MRI scan. Others with no MRI problems will have severe back pain. Basically, the medical community has a lot of solutions to back problems, but our understanding of what causes back pain and when is still evolving.
Therefore, when you are in a car crash and have a history of back pain, however minor, the insurer will inevitably blame your prior back history for the pain and say it is wholly unrelated to the car accident. The plaintiff’s lawyer will argue that you had one episode of back pain seven years ago and it’s clearly not contributory to your pain in contrast to getting t-boned by a range rover. Alternatively, some people have had prior injections for spine issues, but are now in need of a fusion. There are all varieties of back pain complaints following car accidents. Do you have a disc bulge or herniation. Is it new compared to old MRI’s if you had ones. Does the back pain go away with physical therapy or injections? Regardless of outcome, the defense doctor will always blame your current back pain on your degenerative disc disease or old age. Even if you are 40 years old and have no history of back pain. That is what the defense doctor is paid to do.
The only real problem with these cases for most jurors is that there is no fracture or surgery or stitches or objective injury that they are familiar with. Rather, this is “soft tissue” injury that republican tort reformers have attacked for years, unless a republican family member was in a car accident. On that front, Texas is one of the most restrictive states on personal injury lawsuits. Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott, is wheelchair-bound due to a 1980’s era injury in which he was jogging and a tree fell on him. He filed suit against the property owner who was responsible for the tree and the tree company that maintained the property’s trees. The parties reached a settlement in 1986, the details of which Abbott revealed. The defendants’ insurance companies pay Abbott periodic lump sum payments plus monthly income. By the end of this year, he will have received about $5.8 million and is entitled to monthly income from the settlement until he dies. https://www.texastribune.org/2013/08/04/candidate-faces-questions-turnabout-and-fair-play. Does Gov. Abbott care about his tort reform stance and his party’s position? Uh, nope. Surprised? Nope.