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Recovering long-term medical expenses in a car accident claim

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Auto Accidents

Car accident victims must determine how much compensation they will seek before they negotiate with insurance companies or file lawsuits. Calculating lost wages and totaling medical bills is a relatively straightforward process, but things become more complicated when the victims are still receiving medical treatment during negotiations or court proceedings. This happens fairly often in Kentucky because the state’s statute of limitations gives personal injury plaintiffs just one year to take legal action.

Economic damages

Juries in personal injury cases award economic damages to compensate plaintiffs for their lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses like medical and auto repair expenses. Plaintiffs are expected to provide documents like doctor or hospital bills to support their claims, but this is not possible when treatment is ongoing. In these situations, medical experts may be called upon to explain to juries how long treatment will continue for and how much it will cost. When doctors or physical therapists make these predictions, they base them on what is known as the point of maximum medical improvement.

Maximum medical improvement

The point of maximum medical improvement is reached when further treatment will not improve a patient’s condition. When patients reach the point of MMI, additional treatment is considered superfluous. Reaching the point of MMI does not mean that a motor vehicle accident victim has recovered fully, it just means that continuing treatment will not improve their condition further. Determining the point of MMI is important because it prevents civil defendants from being ordered to pay for unnecessary treatment. The point of MMI can also be used to establish that car accident injuries caused permanent disability.

Future costs

Insurance companies try to settle car accident claims for as little as possible, so they tend to scrutinize medical bills closely. This is especially true when treatment is ongoing. When future costs must be calculated, a car accident victim’s point of maximum medical improvement may be used to determine when treatment should stop. This is the point where additional treatment is considered unnecessary because further recovery is unlikely.