Can a Car Accident Cause a Herniated Disc?

Can a Car Accident Cause a Herniated Disc? People involved in car accidents often suffer herniated discs, which make it challenging to lie down, sit, stand, walk, run, and perform everyday activities. If you are involved in a car accident and complain of back pain, the doctor will immediately check you for a herniated disc. The discs in your body can bulge, herniate, be pushed out of the spine, and rupture. It all depends on the severity of the collision, if you suffer from any pre-existing conditions, and the position in which you were sitting at the time of the accident.

What are discs?

The spine is protected by discs, which are cushions that separate the vertebrae in the back and neck. Discs are comprised of fluid. Their job is to absorb shock to the body, especially the spine, so as little damage occurs as possible. The body suffers shock when it is violently hit in a contact sport, when a person is attacked by someone else, when a person falls, or when a person is involved in a car accident.

The overall health of the body’s nervous system depends on having discs that are in good shape. When a person suffers a herniated disc, the disc protrudes from the spine, causing unbearable pain. The disc can be seen sitting outside of the spine when doctors perform tests on the person who is complaining of back pain.

Common signs of a herniated disc

The two most common signs you might have a herniated disc are tingling/numbness in the extremities and back pain. You likely suffered a herniated disc in an accident if the back pain you are experiencing is sudden and intense. If the back pain is present in the lower portion of the back, there is a good chance you have suffered a herniated disc. The reason for this is that the two discs at the bottom of the back are the ones that are herniated most often.

Numbness will occur at different levels in patients who have herniated discs. You might not even notice the numbness, or it can be so unbearable that you have trouble holding things, sleeping, or performing everyday activities. You could struggle with walking the dog, eating, getting dressed, carrying groceries in from the car, and more.

How do I prove that my car accident caused a herniated disc?

There is no one test or method that injury attorneys can use to prove that their client suffered a herniated disc in a car accident – outside, of course, of not having a herniated disc before a car crash, then being diagnosed with one directly after the collision. However, even if it takes a while for the damage to manifest, you can still hold the other driver liable if you sustain a disc injury in a wreck.

One way to ensure the other driver is held responsible is by seeking medical care immediately after the crash. The medical evidence acquired by the doctor via tests will help show whether the herniated disc is a result of the crash.

A doctor will schedule you for an MRI when you arrive in the emergency room following a car accident that has led you to complain about back pain. The results from the MRI will show the doctor whether you have a herniated disc, how many discs are herniated, and the location of the herniated discs.


Should you develop tingling in your extremities in the weeks following a car accident, were told following an MRI that you have a herniated disc, and experience back pain, it is more likely than not that the car accident caused your injury.

The doctor will also examine you for an annular tear, which is most common in patients who have suffered physical trauma and not in patients who are older. Your injury was likely caused by the accident if the MRI revealed a herniated disc and an annular tear, and you are suffering from back pain and tingling in the extremities.

Will I need to get surgery for my herniated disc?

Not every patient with a herniated disc will need to go under the knife in order to repair the herniated disc. In most instances, the patient will be able to control pain with medication, physical therapy, and other non-surgical treatment methods.

If the disc cannot be treated without surgery, you may have to undergo one of the following procedures:

  • Fusion: This procedure will stabilize the spine with the insertion of a rod into the vertebrae.
  • Laminectomy: More space is created in the spine when the doctor removes an area of the vertebrae to reduce pressure on the nerve roots.
  • Artificial disc replacement: The doctor will remove the herniated or ruptured disc and replace it with one that is made of plastic.
  • Discectomy: The doctor will remove only a portion of the herniated disc to remove pressure from the nerves.

If a car crash made my existing disc injury worse, can I still claim damages?

Many car accident victims already have previous injuries that are worsened by the crash they are involved in and worry that their injury won’t be covered by the other driver. The Eggshell Doctrine provides protection for plaintiffs who have a pre-existing injury exacerbated by a car accident.

The defendant will still be held responsible for the damages incurred by the plaintiff despite poor health making it more likely to suffer an injury. However, the Eggshell Doctrine does not kick in immediately. Instead, the plaintiff will need to prove to the court that the defendant owed a duty of care and then violated that duty of care with his/her actions.

Does your back hurt after a car crash? If so, it’s time to visit the hospital or your family physician to receive an examination. It’s possible that you suffered a herniated, bulging, or ruptured disc as a result of the collision. The compassionate and trusted team of Alabama personal injury attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm understands how challenging life can be with a herniated disc. Let our team fight for your right to compensation after an injury caused by a car accident. Call our office at 205-206-6300, or complete a contact form online. We represent clients in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, and Montgomery.