Some accidents result in permanent injuries that require you to calculate future medical expenses when you formulate your personal injury claim. Your lawyer can help you create a future medical cost calculator that will estimate the value of your claim.
What Are Future Medical Expenses?
Future medical expenses are one component of a personal injury claim for compensation. Not all personal injury victims require compensation for future medical expenses. Victims who have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) by the time their claim is resolved may or may not need compensation for future medical expenses. Many personal injury victims regain full functioning before they resolve their personal injury claims.
The situation that justifies a claim of future medical expenses is where medical treatment will continue beyond the resolution of the personal injury claim. You might need kidney dialysis for years after your claim resolves, for example. Your doctors might not even be certain how long your treatment will continue. Secondary issues, caused by treatment but not directly by the accident, also form part of a future medical expenses claim.
Examples of Future Medical Expenditures
Future medical expenses can include many different expenditures, including:
- Diagnostic testing;
- Mental health treatment;
- Follow-up care;
- Rehabilitation and therapy;
- Medical equipment;
- Nursing home expenses; and
- Home modifications (wheelchair ramps, etc.).
Adding future medical expenditures to other types of damages yields total damages. You might want to pad this figure before you file a claim to give yourself some room for bargaining.
How to Prove Future Medical Costs
Most personal injury cases are resolved through settlement. Your best chance of avoiding a trial is to prepare to win there. Following is a description of some of the main methods of proving future medical expenses, both at trial and during settlement negotiations.
You may need testimony from a professional medical expert witness. The professional witness will testify about the causes, consequences, and complications of your condition. This witness may not have ever actually treated you for your injuries.
Testimony from Your Physician
No two patients are alike, and every case is different. Your doctor understands the details of your particular case better than anyone else does. Most importantly, your doctor can estimate your timeline for full recovery, and they can outline what kind of continuing care you might need if you never fully recover.
Putting It All Together
At least one of your experts will need to talk about dollars and cents because these are the units into which your recovery will be calculated. You will also need to prove a causal connection between your injuries and your probable future medical expenses. The opposing party is likely to assert that some of your claims result from a pre-existing injury.
The Legal Status of Your Claim
You don’t need to prove your future medical expenses beyond a reasonable doubt. You only need to prove their reasonable likelihood. In settlement negotiations, your experts can give sworn statements outside of court (known as a deposition). The other side (probably an insurance company) will offer a generous settlement if they believe their alternative is to lose in court.
Calculating Future Medical Expenses
A skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer will know how to estimate future medical expenses. A lot depends on the details of your condition. Following is a description of two of the most common methods of calculating future medical expenses.
The Total Lifestyle Approach
The total lifestyle approach assumes that even after you reach MMI you will still never reach your pre-accident level of functioning. Your attorney will create a “life care plan” in consultation with your healthcare provider. They will then calculate the expenses you will need to maximize your lifestyle over the course of your entire life expectancy.
The Additional Expense Method
Your attorney will use the additional expense method to calculate your future medical expenses if you are facing temporary medical expenses but will eventually recover your former lifestyle. The attorney will itemize each additional expenditure to come up with a total claim for future medical expenses.
It is important that your attorney does not falsely assume that you will eventually recover your former lifestyle. If you don’t, then the amount you claim using the additional expenses method is unlikely to be enough to meet your future needs.
How Insurance Adjusters Calculate Future Damages
While no two insurance companies are exactly alike, generally, future medical expenses are almost always regarded as more speculative than actual expenses you’ve incurred. People sometimes make spontaneous recoveries, and may not need to use the money that’s been predicted by experts or treating physicians. Be aware that insurance companies are far more likely to agree to compensate you for what IS, rather than what MIGHT BE.
Our attorneys will work with you, your doctors, and the insurance company to make sure any future expenses you might have will be covered, but be aware that these can be a point of contention between the parties. Where very large future medical expenses are involved, trial is often more likely.
Don’t Try to Handle This On Your Own
It is vital that you accurately calculate future medical expenses. Once a court reaches a decision, or you sign a settlement agreement, your claim will be resolved. That means you won’t be able to come back for more money later.
Call Stracci Law Group at 219-525-1000, or simply contact us online. We serve clients in Crown Point [46307, 46308], Merrillville [46410, 46411], Hammond [46320, 46323], and elsewhere in Northwest Indiana. Remember ー you will owe us nothing unless we win your claim.