Q. Does anyone have a ballpark figure of a settlement out expected from a car accident not at fault other party has full coverage and have back problems (soft tissue damage)? Thanks, Bryan.
A. Bryan, you need to provide a lot more information for an accurate estimate on the settlement value of a “soft tissue” injury case.
Soft tissue is a term that refers to structures of the body that connect, envelope, support and/or move the structures around it. It normally refers to muscle, tendons and ligaments but it can also include nerves, blood vessels, and fat as well as synovial tissue (which is the material which composes the joint capsules.
Soft tissue can also refer to “fascia” which is a fibrous connective tissue surrounding bones, muscles and joints. Fascia also joins the skin to the tissue below it.
Damage to “soft tissue” can be very minor injury which heals completely with no residual symptoms.
On the other hand, since the soft tissues hold the bones of the spine (vertebrae) in place, a traumatic injury can stretch these tissues so that they no longer correctly perform their support function. This can result in excessive vertebral movement known as “loss of motion segment integrity”.
This ligamentous laxity (looseness) and accompanying vertebral movement, can be demonstrated by a proper set of plain film (a basic x-ray), flexion (leaning forward) and extension (leaning backward) x-rays.
The excessive movement is known as “translation” (back-and-forth movement) or angular variation (rotational movement) Once it exceeds certain normal limits, as established by the AMA, it qualifies, under the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, for a whole person impairment rating of as much as 25-28%.
Loss of motion segment integrity caused by soft tissue injury can be so bad, in extreme cases, as to require surgery.
Soft tissue damage can also give rise to a painful and debilitating condition known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Some significant settlements and verdicts have been obtained in recent years for injury victims with RSD/CRPS.
Some new treatments have been developed in recent years which provide relief to some soft tissue sufferers. These include a variety of injective type therapies such as “prolotherapy”. Prolotherapy restores stability to the soft tissues of the spine through injection of saline (that’s right, salt water) solution.
Finally, though not traditionally and properly classified as a “soft tissue” injury, some insurance adjusters go so far as to include injury to the intervertebral discs as soft tissue injuries. This would include injuries commonly known as “slipped disc” but more properly referred to as disc “herniation”, “bulge” or “protrusion”.