Back and neck woes are likely the most commonly cited injuries in personal-injury lawsuits. They’re ubiquitous to the point of being nearly interchangeable, as in “soft-tissue injuries of the back and neck.” But interchangeable they are not, at least in terms of the damages they merit. The accompanying chart, based on cases reported to VerdictSearch, compares the median recovery amounts for cases involving fusion of the neck (yellow bars), fusion of the back (green) and both (red). Fusion was used to limit the effect of secondary injuries. Obviously, recoveries are greatest when both the neck and back are fused, but most interesting is that back injuries are worth 30.4 percent more than neck injuries in settlements and 81.5 percent more in verdicts. To study other injuries, use the search platform at VerdictSearch.com.
HOW TO: Log onto VerdictSearch.com’s search platform. In the Type of Injury field, unfold the neck injuries and select “fusion, cervical” and “fusion, cervical, two-level”. That isolates all cases in which a plaintiff underwent fusion of the cervical region. Now let’s exclude other types of fusion. In the Search Terms field, enter: NOT “fusion, lumbar” NOT “fusion, thoracic”. Go to Award Type and select Settlement or Verdict-Plaintiff, to filter by result. Click Search, and all of the relevant cases will be displayed. Using the pull-down menu in the upper right corner, sort the cases by amount. The median value is the case for which there is an equal number of cases with greater and lesser recoveries. Congratulations, you’ve determined the median recovery for cases involving cervical fusion without fusion of another region of the spine.
ANATOMICAL VARIANCES: The same search can be performed to ascertain differences in other similar but not-so-similar injuries, such as radius fractures versus humerus fractures. So much knowledge to be gleaned!