For those who have been injured in an accident because of the negligence of another person, there are many items of concern that must be addressed; medical bills, income loss, loss of enjoyment of life and permanent disability among others. An important part of any personal injury claim is how to deal with the uncertainty of future medical bills. These might be the bills that you might have to financially plan for should you need to continue in your medical care as a result of your injuries. It is important to consult with your medical professionals as well as your personal injury attorney as you are working through your personal injury claim. You will need to do this before you sign any release of liability in exchange for a settlement sum.
In the natural course of a person’s medical care or treatment plan, the level of care you are receiving at any time might change. This change could be in the near or even distant future. It is the expenses that accompany this future care that need consideration sooner, rather than later.
What to Consider Before Settlement
Was my medical treatment effective thus far?
Your treatment plan and the medical bills that accompany the plan are integral in determining the value placed on any settlement for injuries or damages before you execute any release of your rights in a claim. If you were happy with the results of your treating medical professionals then you need to consult with them in planning for what to expect in the future. There are times that treatment protocols change and as one progressively improves as a result of the care, the doctor may change frequency or type of care indicated. You need to understand the future indications for your continued recovery, if you do not, then any settlement is premature.
Are there less expensive alternative care options to consider in the future?
Discuss with your doctors what options for care are available to you, given your diagnosis and prognosis. As you need to use a reasonable expense calculation for the future bills you might need to pay, it is helpful to know what might be effective for you and at a lower cost to you. There might be medicines or therapies that your doctor may direct you to that, as you have to pay your future bills yourself in most cases, would not be too expensive.
What happens if my condition worsens after my settlement?
There is risk in an early settlement, if you settle your claim too early you might not know the full extent of your injuries and personal injury claim. Your personal injury lawyer will consult with you on these important matters. In nearly all cases, once your claim for damages has been settled, then you become responsible for any future medical bills that you incur. It is expected that those bill will need to be paid from the proceeds of your settlement. In some cases, an injured person might have multiple insurance policies, health insurance, or even Medicaid / Medicare. Be Careful when using your insurance for injuries sustained in an accident as there are legal attachments called Subrogation that might apply. Your personal injury attorney will be able to walk you through these issues.
How do future medical bills get accounted for in a settlement?
There is an issue of uncertainty to consider when calculating future medical bills and other expenses. Will inflation rates increase? How many visits will I require in the future? What if I move and doctors are more expensive there? Will it cost more for medical care the longer I wait? These questions need to be thought about as you figure calculations for future medical expenses.
There is no cut and dried formula and each case for settlement is different from the next. It should increase the value of your personal injury claim if you have a high likelihood of future medical expenses. Your personal injury attorney will be able to draw from the experience of other settlements they were involved in with others who suffered from similar injuries as you. Remember that the future cannot be known for sure, and any attempt to place value on future damages is only a reasonable guess at best.
It is best to plan for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to considering your future medical billing liabilities. It is important to remember that once you settle your claim for damages, you will not be able to go back and get additional money if your condition worsens or you still need to seek medical treatment. Consult your doctors about what they think the future might hold for you, and then work with your personal injury attorney to negotiate the best possible outcome for your particular situation.