Can I Recover My Medical Expenses in a Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is supposed to restore the plaintiff to the position that he or she would have been in before the accident. While a successful case cannot actually turn back the clock, it can provide compensation for both economic losses, like medical expenses and, depending on the type of case, non-economic losses as well.
Medical expenses are recoverable, and they often play a major role in the compensation available for an injury. A personal injury lawyer can help calculate the total scope of your losses, so nothing is left unaccounted for.
What kinds of medical expenses can be compensated
Any reasonably related expense related to medical treatment and recovery may be eligible for compensation in a lawsuit. This can include:
- Ambulance transportation
- Costs for office visits, including initial medical evaluation as well as follow-up visits with a doctor, chiropractor, or other medical professional
- Hospitalization and surgery costs
- Skilled care
- Medical equipment
These kinds of expenses can add up quickly. You should not have to skip essential treatment because of the cost. Follow your doctor’s recommendation for treatment and follow-ups, keep detailed records of your treatment and bills, and speak with a personal injury lawyer.
Calculating past and future damages
An award or settlement should include compensation for both past and future medical expenses if applicable. “Past” damages are those that occur from the date of the injury through the date of the award of compensation. “Future” damages are those expected to be incurred after.
Even though future costs have not yet been paid, they must be supported by evidence. Often a doctor will testify as to how long the injury is expected to impair the victim and what kind of treatment will be necessary going forward.
Auto accidents and other personal injuries
In New York, the damages that can be recovered depend on the type of personal injury involved. The main difference is that in auto accidents, absent a “serious” injury, you are limited to making a no-fault claim; this can only provide compensation for economic damages like medical bills. In the case of serious injury or other types of personal injury, non-economic damages like pain and suffering are also available.
A plaintiff may only recover compensation one time
Though medical costs may indirectly influence non-economic damages, any given expense may only be directly compensated once. Because of insurance and other benefits, some losses may be paid by someone other than the at-fault party. To prevent double recovery, a court may adjust a judgment to reflect payments from third parties.
A New York statute known as the “collateral source rule” and codified in N.Y. C.P.L.R. Section 4545 allows evidence of the payment or expected payment toward certain losses. They include medical care, dental care, custodial care or rehabilitation services, loss of earnings or other economic loss suffered by the plaintiff. Following statutory rules and guidelines, the amount that a plaintiff may collect from a judgment may be reduced by the amount paid by a collateral source.
In theory, the collateral source rule allows the injury victim to recover for all of their out-of-pocket costs. In practice, the calculation can be complicated, and there are exceptions to the rules. Reducing a judgment requires additional evidence and can include follow-up court hearings.
Defending medical expenses
If you seek reimbursement for medical costs, be prepared for a challenge from the defendant. The basis can include:
- Costs are related to a pre-existing condition
- Expenses were not necessary
- The injury was not caused by the accident
Personal injury lawyers understand these challenges. The attorneys at Douglas & London know what expect. We build your case with an eye toward fending off the insurance companies’ assaults on your claim.
Discuss your case with a NY lawyer
When you need quick and fair compensation to pay medical expenses, the defendants and insurance companies will drag out the process and make low-ball offers. You do not have to fight this battle alone.
Speak with a New York City personal injury lawyer at Douglas & London. Our team looks at cases from every angle, exploring every path of potential compensation. Call today to schedule a free consultation.