Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
What are the Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Medical expenses in a personal injury lawsuit generally include all of the necessary and reasonable medical expenses that the victim of the injuries incurred. If the defendant is found to be liable for causing the plaintiff’s injuries, they will generally have to pay for the injured party’s medical expenses as part of the overall damages award.
Medical expenses typically include both past expenses that were already paid for in connection with the personal injury lawsuit, as well as future medical costs. However, future medical costs must result from the injury; they cannot be so far removed from the cause of the original injury so as to be considered unreasonable. Medical expenses are usually listed under compensatory damages, which are intended to compensate the injured for their losses.
What are Some Examples of Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Some typical medical expenses that are included in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Hospital bills
- Diagnostic testing expenses
- Surgery costs
- Therapy and rehabilitation costs
- Costs of prescription medicines
- Insurance-related costs (in some cases)
- Pain and suffering management
Medical expenses can therefore be very extensive, especially if the injured party has to undergo continued treatment or recurring medical care. For this reason, it’s important to be very thorough when documenting injuries for the purposes of filing a lawsuit.
It is also important to attend all medical appointments or therapy sessions. Many states have a rule that only medical services received will be compensated. Failure to attend all medical appointments or sessions may result in a lower damage award.
How are Medical Expenses Proven?
Proving these expenses may require the help of an expert medical professional as well as a personal injury lawyer. Usually, thorough documentation is required in order to calculate the total costs of medical treatment. These may include the presentation of various items of evidence in court, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Medical treatment receipts
- Pharmaceutical bills
- Any other documents showing the costs of the medical expenses
Can I Still Recover Medical Expenses If I Have Insurance?
Yes, although there are certain restrictions. It is very common for people to carry insurance and most states would not deprive a victim of just compensation simply because the victim had the foresight to buy insurance. "Insurance" includes private and public insurance, such as MediCare.
However, paying medical bills through insurance can carry restrictions which out of pocket expenses would not incur. For instance, insurance companies often contract with hospitals and other medical service providers to have lower prices than the market value that such services are worth.
In some states, like California, only paid medical expenses can be recovered. The market value of the service cannot be collected, even though the market value is often more than the medical bill negotiated by the insurance companies. This policy, however, differs between states. In Nevada, accident victims can collect the market value of their medical bills, even if the victim’s insurance company bargained the price down.
What about Medical Malpractice Expenses?
Medical malpractice damages awards are a separate legal concept from medical expenses. Medical malpractice is an entire cause of action, while medical expenses can result from non-malpractice injuries (like slip and fall claims or car accidents).
Note that damages awards in a medical malpractice lawsuit may be subject to caps or limits on the dollar amount. This is to avoid abuses of the legal system due to the filing of frivolous lawsuits, or lawsuits requesting an unreasonably high damages award. Some states may also impose similar caps on the medical expenses portion of a damages award, but not always.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Medical expenses often form the bulk of a person’s damages award in a personal injury lawsuit. You may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need assistance filing for damages for a personal injury. Your attorney can provide you with expert advice regarding the medical expenses that you may be compensated for. In addition, your lawyer can represent and guide you during the formal court processes.
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Last Modified: 07-15-2013 12:12 PM PDT
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