You are not alone. When you are sitting in the hospital or recovering at home, many victims start to wonder what amount of compensation they will receive for the incredible pain and inconvenience they are experiencing.
How Do You Know How Much Your Case Is Worth?
You probably won’t know at the beginning. The reason is that injuries can change rather quickly as you seek medical care. In many of our cases, the injuries appear to be “soft tissue,” often referred to as whiplash, but that changes over time.
A car accident victim might present to a chiropractor or physical therapist with neck pain but it transfers to the shoulder or arms. Radiating pain or numbness may occur. Perhaps the shoulder pain, after additional imaging is ordered, turns out to be a rotator cuff tear. Now, the injured person is looking at surgery and follow up physical therapy for months. So, the amount of compensation for a case will change dramatically as you work through treatment.
If you are really curious about the “value” of your case, it is best to ask your attorney about that after you are several months post-accident. The attorney can do a more accurate assessment based on whether you have any gaps in treatment or have over treated. It’s also more likely that, if your injuries are beyond soft tissue, your primary care doctor has requested advanced imaging or referred you to a specialist. All of this will greatly dictate the value of your case.
How Does The Injured Person Help Or Hurt The Case
If you are a stoic person who prefers the “wait and see” approach to healing, this may not work in your favor. The insurance adjusters look very closely at the care, diagnostic codes, and follow up treatment that occurred immediate following an accident.
If you think about it from their perspective, if a person does not seek medical attention for a month, a lot of non-accident related activities could be the cause of your injuries. Perhaps between the accident date and the date of your first doctor appointment, you have social media pictures of you jet skiing and being catapulted in the air. Expect the adjuster to use that information to argue your back pain is from your summer boating adventures.
Alternatively, a person who seeks care from a doctor in the hours or days following an accident will have a clear medical chart that documents injuries with medical codes and treatment suggestions. Assuming the injured person follows that care and does not miss care for any significant period, it will become nearly impossible for an insurance adjuster to “poke holes” in the case.
Duty To Mitigate
If you are almost healed from soft tissue injuries and you decide to take up snowboarding in the last month of treatment, you should not be surprised that any new injuries or significant flare-ups while crashing on your snowboard won’t be counted toward your accident.
Additionally, if you have decided on your own that your shoulder requires surgical repair but all of your medical providers disagree, do not expect the at-fault party to pick up the tab. All injuries must be documented, related, and medical treatment must be reasonable. For this reason, make sure any treatment you seek is documented as reasonable and related to the accident.
Finally, if you seek care where the provider is grossly over-charging or over-treating, this can also be a big problem. If you have an attorney on your case, these issues will typically be caught right away because a personal injury lawyer knows what would be deemed “reasonable” when it comes to care and cost.
The Take Away
- Don’t do things to cause further injury or new injuries while you are healing from an accident or dog attack. If you are re-injured through your own fault, it only serves to diminish the value of the accident claim.
- Document all injuries through reputable medical providers.
- Follow all care as directed by a medical professional.
- Do not miss appointments! If you must have a gap between treatments, make sure the reason is documented in your medical chart. All gaps in treatment will be scrutinized by the insurance adjuster. Gaps in treatment hurt your case!
No information in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and no information should be generalized. The only way to understand a legal matter is to seek advice from a licensed attorney in the state where the injury occurred. Every state has different laws and different statute of limitations as well as fault and recovery rules.