Damages Awarded In Personal Injury Claims In Illinois
The amount awarded in personal injury claims is different every time. It is hard to quantify or put into numbers when the quality of a person’s life is affected by an accident. One of the biggest factors in determining the settlement award is the amount of the medical bills themselves. To some extent, the medical bill amount is the most important factor, because it is a hard number that the insurance company and jurors can consider. Therefore, if you did not follow up with medical treatment, the low amount of medical bills signals to the jury that the injury was not too significant. The point is to have follow-up treatments no matter what; otherwise, it is not a major claim.
How Do Medical Bills Affect A Settlement?
Medical bills are artificially high most times—they are in a sense “made up,” for lack of a better term. A hospital may charge for a medication by multiplying the cost of it times ten. So, where did that number come from? Who knows? Nobody seems to know. The hospital treats you, and then hopes that you will find a personal injury attorney to represent you because that makes it easier for them to collect payment. Say your hospital bill is $10,000.00. The hospital will likely not be able to collect right away since it was due to an accident. When that happens, the hospital hopes and prays that you find a personal injury attorney so that the bill will be honored at the end of the case. In legal language, the hospital has a lien on your case.
The big secret is that the hospital will negotiate. They may not negotiate with you, because they do not think they have to do so. They will negotiate, however, with your attorney. That is another major advantage of having a personal injury attorney.
Will A Settlement Take Future Medical Expenses Into Account As Well?
Future medical costs will be taken into consideration if you have documented that you are at a greater risk for future medical treatment because of the accident. When you visit a medical provider, we obtain their records. We will also depose that healthcare provider as an expert witness. If your doctor says, “Yes, this person is likely to get a fusion in the lower back later on,” I will ask the doctor, “Doctor, how much more likely?” “It is hard to quantify, but they are more likely than not going to need a fusion later on” is a typical response I get from a doctor. I will then use an expert called a Life Care Planner to put that opinion into numbers. The Life Care Planner will look at the cost in your geographic area for a fusion of the lower back.
The Life Care Planner will make a surgery cost determination, and factor in if you have an increased risk of future surgery, which means physical therapy, medications, and maybe a prosthetic device, too. My Life Care Planner then converts all of these factors into hard numbers, which we can use against the insurance companies.
It all starts with your doctor. If your doctor will not say that you have an increased risk for future treatments (even if the risk cannot be quantified), then your chances of obtaining an award covering future medical expenses are in jeopardy. An insurance company attorney may say something like, “Doctor So-and-So, you really can’t exactly quantify the risk of future treatment, right? Nobody really knows, isn’t that correct, if the person’s going to need a fusion surgery?” If your doctor will not stick his neck out for you and at least say that you have an increased risk for medical treatment, then there isn’t going to be any award for future medical bills.
Which Providers Can Be Recompensed From A Personal Injury Settlement?
You can get reimbursement for all of the treatment that you receive, including the doctor and hospital visits, as well as minor items such as lab tests or medications. On top of that, diagnostic testing such as MRIs and EMGs can factor into your reimbursement. Again, do not skip any treatment, thinking that it is a good idea because you are saving money. For instance, someone may try to save money by not getting an MRI. Big mistake. An MRI is a sophisticated picture of an injury. Let’s say you do not get an MRI for your neck injury. Without the MRI, you have no evidence of your injury other than saying “it hurts.” People are visual learners. If you do not have an MRI showing a visual image of your injury, then you are not injured. So again, get the MRI. That way, I have ammunition in this war we are fighting against the insurance company.
Will The Entire Settlement Be Spent On Bills And Expenses?
No, the entire settlement will not be spent paying all of your medical bills and expenses. Illinois law has a structure in place to protect victims in situations in which a settlement is lower than the medical bills, called the Illinois Healthcare Lien Act. That law says that doctors and hospitals will have to lower their bills to accommodate a lower settlement amount. Therefore, doctors and hospitals cannot eat up the whole settlement.
What Sets Mr. Balke Apart From Other Attorneys In Handling Personal Injury Cases?
The aforementioned tactics are just the beginning. Every case is different and requires its own investigation. I love that part of the case. If you want to strategize with me, feel free to contact me at any time.
For more information on Damages Awarded In Personal Injury Claims, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (815) 495-5598 today.
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