Can I Claim Future Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you have been seriously injured from an auto accident, a slip and fall, or medical malpractice, you have probably accumulated a fortune in medical bills. You’d like to settle your claim to recoup those losses, but when you’re still receiving treatment for your injuries, you don’t know how long you may require medical care. Fortunately, you are able to claim “future medical expenses” as part of your damages, but this type of claim can be difficult to prove.
The court will not order a defendant to pay damages that are too speculative. So, a claim for future damages must have sufficient supporting evidence to show:
- Future medical care is likely to be necessary.
- The necessary care is likely to cost a certain amount.
These two points require different types of proof, medical and economic. Each side will likely hire experts to prepare a report and testify to:
- Medical necessity — A medical expert explains the nature and extent of your injuries and their long-term consequences. The expert attempts to answer questions about the type of medical care that may be necessary, how long such treatment will take, the degree of improvement you can expect, and others. The discussion must be limited to treatment that is currently available, because relying on medical breakthroughs that may come in the future is far too speculative.
- Costs of treatment — An expert in the economics of medicine prepares a report and testifies on the projected cost of the services the plaintiff is likely to need in the future. Cost projections rely on trends in the medical industry as well as other factors impacting the cost to the plaintiff, such as their date of Medicare eligibility.
Claims for future medical expenses often come down to a battle of the experts. Juries listen to both sides and try to determine whether the plaintiff or defense expert seems more credible. This is an area where an attorney’s experience and judgment are crucial. Choosing the right expert to report and give testimony can make all the difference in the outcome.
For more information about damage claims, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney at Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC.