Lawsuits - Claims
Medical Costs Affect Claim Values
Valuing a claim is one of the more difficult jobs that a successful injury attorney must undertake. However, it is also one of the most important. Value a claim too low and you may leave potential funds on the negotiating table. On the other hand, value a claim too high and you can either significantly delay the resolution or, in the worst case scenario, drive the insurance company away from the bargaining table completely and miss out on otherwise available funds. Accordingly, claim valuation is very important and an accomplished car accident attorney should be proficient at doing so.
One of the most significant factors when attempting to put a value on a personal injury claim, especially one arising from a car accident, is the reasonable value of the medical services that were required to treat injuries sustained in the accident. At first blush, this would seem to make sense too, as an injury that requires $500 of doctors treatment would generally be much less severe than one requiring $50,000 of treatment . Accordingly one might expect, and rightfully so, that the claim on the latter would worth more based upon the all of the pain, loss of use, effects on the injured party and his or her family, etc. In fact, this is often the case. However, merely looking at medical bills is only the beginning of the analysis and a detailed investigation must be completed to ensure that the claim is properly evaluated.
To begin with, the question often arises as to what the true medical expenses are. As we discuss here (link), an estimate of what a future medical procedure costs, can be quite different from what it actually costs. To further complicate matters, the amounts charged, if paid by insurance or a government source, are often dramatically different than what is paid. So even determining the reasonable value of the services provided can be quite an exercise to begin with.
Further, insurance companies value different services differently. So for example, a $5,000 surgery is viewed by an insurance company quite differently than $5,000 in chiropractic treatment. Further, $5,000 in diagnostics or, in other words, trying to find out what the problem actually is e.g. x rays, an MRI, C/T Scan, is often valued differently than $5,000 in physical therapy treatment. Accordingly, the accomplished auto accident attorney will delve into the specifics of the treatments billed, and not just the costs of such treatments.
It is also very important to note that there are more damages than just medical bills. While medical bills can be a significant contributing factor, say a $15,000 surgical procedure, what if the procedure has the injured Iowan on bed rest for 6 months? What if this person is the major bread winner in the family and would have made $20,000 in commissions per month at his sales job but for this accident occurring. In this instance, the medical bills might well be much less important than other damages, such as lost wages. As a result, investigating all damages incurred can be every bit as important as obtaining medical expenses.
So what is the injured car driver to take from all of this? Mainly, your health and welfare should be your primary concern, the claim is always secondary to your health. It is most important that you seek necessary treatment if you are injured. It is very difficult if not impossible to make a claim for a significant injury that was never treated and therefore cannot be corroborated. Conversely and as opposed to the sometimes popular notion that you can just act injured and be compensated, a medical professional is going to be able to discover if there is an underlying medical issue. So attempting to obtain a diagnosis that does not exist, not only does no good but can actually hurt your claim. The best course of action then, is to play it safe and get checked out, even get a second opinion if really necessary. If you truly are injured then a competent medical professional will be able to diagnose the issue the majority of the time, or at least determine what diagnostic steps need to be taken. Also, make sure you follow through with any additional recommendations or prescriptions given. This is once again important not primarily for your claim but for your health. Your health should be your number one priority. It will be for your family. And don’t be surprised that if you don’t feel an injury is severe enough to seek or continue treatment, neither will an insurance company or a jury.
Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have the right insurance in place before an accident, it can make all the difference for you in the unfortunate event. While accidents and loss of income aren't the hot topic at a social gathering, the reality is that insurance can make all the difference for your immediate and long range plans.
If you are ever in an accident that has caused you injuries, please call (515.226.0500 or Toll-Free: 866.743.6652) the attorneys at Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm - we will be the help you need when you need it most.