How Continuing Medical Care Increases Personal Injury Settlements

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Whether you’re injured in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or another personal injury incident, the settlement value and verdict potential depend largely on the extent of your injuries and your medical care. When it comes to settling personal injury claims, insurance companies take into consideration all of your damages. Medical bills are generally not compensable unless they are out of pocket (meaning that you paid them, or that another entity related to your case has a subrogation interest).


Will Medical Treatment Increase A Personal Injury Settlement in PA?

The defendant, and therefore the defendant’s insurance company, is required to compensate you for your pain and suffering and loss of wages. Limiting your medical care for your injuries for any reason opens the door for the opposing insurance company and their attorneys to argue in negotiations and in court that your injuries were not that severe, or that your pain and suffering were limited in duration. This in turn will decrease the settlement value of your personal injury case.

Obtaining and continuing with treatment also demonstrates that you have followed all treatment recommendations and actively worked to improve your injuries. In Pennsylvania, injured parties have a “duty to mitigate.” This means that you are required to take reasonable steps to limit your damages. So, for example, if a doctor recommends that you engage in physical therapy treatment because that treatment could improve your injuries, and you fail to do so, your settlement value could decrease for failing to follow the doctor’s orders.

What is Subrogation?

Subrogation is a legal term for the right of reimbursement of a third party, typically an insurance company or an entity that pays your medical bills or wage loss. This would be a workers’ compensation carrier, health insurance carrier, Medicare or Medicaid. The law gives them the right to be paid back from the personal injury settlement or jury verdict.

What Types of Medical Treatments Increase Settlement Values?

As a general rule, ongoing medical treatment increases a case’s settlement value, but that does not mean that all medical treatments are ‘created equal,’ so to speak. The treatment must be responsive to any diagnosis. For example, if you are diagnosed with a neck strain, but seek treatment for low back pain, your doctors must relate the back pain to the accident, otherwise it is unrelated to your personal injury claim, and will be argued as unrelated by the opposing insurance company. Additionally, diagnoses and prescribed treatments should generally come with a prescription from a licensed physician, certainly when it comes to physical therapy. This is not necessarily the case with chiropractic treatment.

In that same vein, treatment prescribed by a treating physician generally will have more value than unprescribed treatment. For instance, if your doctor instructs you to attend physical therapy treatment, but instead you start seeing an acupuncturist, the insurance company will point out that discrepancy and argue that you did not follow the doctor’s orders. Nevertheless, any treatment that helps you recover, namely homeopathic or alternative treatment options massage, acupuncture, aqua therapy and the like will be utilized as proof of your pain levels in the negotiation of your case.

How To Document Medical Care & Injuries?

Make sure to document your personal injury case thoroughly to ensure you get fully compensated for your medical expenses in your settlement value. Here’s how you should document medical care.

  • Take Pictures: Capture clear images of your injuries with your phone as soon as possible after your accident. Make sure to take photos from different angles to show the depth and severity of the injuries.
  • Keep a Written Record: Write down the date, time, and location of the accident, the injuries you received and the pain you suffered. Update your records with changes in pain level or injuries and any medical treatments received.
  • Gather Witness Statements: If there were people around the accident area, record their statements. Also, ask them to provide a written statement.
  • Keep All Medical Records Safely: Gather all your medical documents and records related to your injuries, diagnostic tests, prescriptions, doctors’ notes, treatment plans, etc. These documents serve as vital evidence during your case. Your medical records should have all information about your injuries and all the treatments you had.

How Medical Records Can Strengthen Settlement Negotiations

If you are in an accident, it is essential that you do not forgo your medical care. Having adequate medical documentation is an essential part of every personal injury case. If you don’t have that information, you will not have the necessary support to obtain a fair and just settlement.

Settlement values are influenced by medical records and treatments. If your injuries require long-term medical care or continuing physical therapy, that needs to be included when negotiating a settlement value to account for future expenses.

Having thorough medical records can increase your personal injury settlement. Your medical records can also be reviewed by medical professionals to verify your claim. You should also keep all the bills related to medical treatments, this includes your travel, hospital bills, prescription costs and other related costs.

How Carpey Law Can Help Increase Your Settlement Value

Stuart Carpey at Carpey Law has over 35 years of experience reviewing and valuing personal injury lawsuits for his clients. When you’re injured in an accident, we know the steps you need to take to achieve the settlement value that you deserve. Don’t let insurance companies pressure you into an unfair settlement. Contact our offices today to discuss your options and determine if litigation is the appropriate response for your injuries.