A lawyer considers the need and severity of your injuries to determine future medical bills in a slip and fall case. You might incur more future medical bills if you suffered a traumatic brain injury than a sprained knee in a slip and fall incident. A lawyer may use an additional expense approach or a total lifestyle approach to calculate your future medical costs.
A personal injury attorney will call your treating doctor or another medical practitioner to testify in support of your claim. An expert medical witness can explain to the insurance company, jury, or judge your medical condition and associated future medical expenses.
What Are Future Medical Bills?
Future medical bills are medical expenses that continue to accrue even after a personal injury case ends. You may not incur these expenses if your injuries are less severe and have a short recovery period. As such, you may not require compensation for future medical costs.
Future medical treatment may be necessary if you have suffered severe or life-altering injuries in a slip and fall. You may experience physical pain and other secondary complications that need additional medical care even after attaining the maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Compensation for future medical treatment takes care of the ongoing treatment costs associated with your injuries. The goal is to streamline your recovery journey and help you attain maximum healing from your injuries.
You might, for instance, require multiple surgeries and a series of physical therapy sessions following a severe back injury in a slip and fall. You might also need continuous medical care for secondary health problems, including pressure ulcers and bladder problems, that might develop due to long periods of immobility. Compensation for future medical bills can help cover all those expenses.
Examples of Future Medical Bills
Future medical bills arising from a slip and fall incident vary from one injured party to another. The reason is that the nature and extent of injuries sustained are never the same. Compensation for future medical bills could cover the following:
- In-hospital stays
- Physical and rehabilitation therapy
- Prescription medication and assistive medical equipment
- Home or vehicle modifications to accommodate new injuries
- In-home care, follow-up appointments, and transportation assistance
Injuries that Require Future Medical Care
Spinal Cord Injury
A spinal cord injury is one of the most common slip-and-fall injuries. This injury can attract costly ongoing care, depending on its severity. A less severe spinal cord injury may require you to use assistive devices like a brace, crutches, or a wheelchair for movement.
A severe spinal cord injury may require you to receive costly injections or surgical procedures. You may also need long-term physical therapy to speed up the recovery of your sensory and motor function. Physical therapy also minimizes your chances of developing secondary complications like pressure sores due to immobility.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
TBI can be mild or severe and cause a concussion, coma, or even total brain damage. A severe TBI might require a variety of expensive ongoing care, whereas a mild one needs less treatment for maximum recovery. For instance, you may undergo expensive surgery, a long period of therapy, or life support if you suffer a severe TBI in a slip and fall. All those treatment services can cause your future medical bills to increase dramatically.
Internal injuries are usually concealed and hard to detect. Your doctor may perform costly diagnostic studies, including X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, to detect internal injuries. The doctor will then perform surgery or other medical procedures to resolve the problem.
You might require ongoing care after getting your internal injuries treated. Any secondary complications arising from the treatment may also cause your future medical bills to pile up.
Severely Broken Bones
A severely broken bone may require more than just a cast to repair. It may involve a surgical procedure to place the bone in the correct position before the healing process begins. Long-term physical therapy may be necessary to hasten the healing process.
How to Determine Future Medical Bills in a Slip and Fall Case
Under Nevada personal injury law, you are entitled to compensation for all your quantifiable losses arising from a slip and fall. These losses include your medical bills and lost wages or income. They also include future medical bills stemming from ongoing care for your injuries.
It’s hard to determine future medical bills in a slip and fall case. Why? There is no specific formula for calculating these expenses. That’s why it pays to work with a premises liability lawyer who has successfully resolved cases like yours before.
A knowledgeable premises liability lawyer will evaluate the specific facts of your condition to determine the best way to calculate your future medical expenses. Your lawyer may use the following two approaches to determine future medical bills in a slip and fall case:
The Total Lifestyle Approach
A slip and fall incident may leave you with severe or life-altering injuries that need ongoing care. This ongoing medical care may be necessary even after you attain MMI. In this case, your lawyer will calculate your future medical bills using the total lifestyle approach.
Your lawyer will review your medical records, talk to your medical provider, and involve you in creating a life care plan. The lawyer outlines all the medical and daily living needs for your projected life expectancy in the plan. The lawyer then determines the amount you will require to live as close as possible to your pre-accident lifestyle.
A life care plan can help you plan your future after getting injured in a slip and fall incident. The plan allows you to navigate the unique challenges associated with your injury and the recovery process. It helps you recognize and plan for your future medical and living needs properly.
The Additional Expense Approach
Your lawyer may use this approach if you might incur future medical bills, but will ultimately regain your pre-accident health. The lawyer will add each additional expense to determine how much your claim for future medical bills is worth.
Your lawyer must consult your medical provider or another medical provider to determine if you will ultimately regain your pre-accident health. Otherwise, the claimed amount may fail to cover the full extent of your future medical expenses.
How to Prove Your Future Medical Bills in a Slip and Fall Case
Most slip and fall cases resolve through a negotiated settlement. Gathering and presenting enough evidence to support your claim can help you recover reasonable compensation at the negotiation stage. Your compiled evidence can also help maximize court-awarded damages at trial. Some effective ways to prove future medical bills in a slip and fall case include:
Testimony from Your Doctor
Your doctor has an in-depth understanding of the specifics of your case. The doctor can provide an accurate estimate of how long you will take to regain your pre-accident health. The doctor can also specify the type of ongoing care you might require if you will never regain your pre-accident health.
Testimony from a Medical Expert Witness
Your lawyer may bring on board a medical practitioner to testify in your case. The medical expert witness will explain your medical condition’s cause, impact, and secondary health issues. The witness will outline your future medical needs and your chances of regaining your pre-accident health.
A medical expert witness does not necessarily need to have treated you. Instead, this witness is a medical practitioner who understands your medical condition and its lifelong impact on your life. The witness can support your claim for future medical bills by providing facts and professional opinions. The witness can, for instance, demonstrate that the claimed amount is within the range charged by other medical providers providing similar services.
Factors that Affect the Amount of Claimed Future Medical Bills
The Severity of Your Injury
Slip and fall incidents that cause more severe injuries generate higher future medical bills due to the lengthy recovery period and costly treatment involved. Hard injuries like spinal cord injuries are generally more expensive to treat than their soft-tissue counterparts like sprains. Similarly, permanent injuries like brain trauma and reduced mobility may require costly ongoing care. The outcome is a significant increase in the amount of future medical bills.
Treatment Type and Recovery Period Duration
Ongoing medical care involving doctors and recognized medical facilities usually attract higher future medical expenses than one involving nurses or chiropractors. These expenses might also increase significantly if treatment for your injuries involves reconstructive surgeries.
The length of your recovery period may also impact the amount of your claimed future medical expenses. A longer recovery period will generally involve many follow-up appointments with your medical provider and costlier prescribed medications than a shorter one. As such, you should claim a higher future medical bill if your estimated recovery timeline is longer.
Injuries that significantly affect your everyday life usually involve a higher claim for future medical bills. Some injuries may, for instance, prevent you from performing daily activities like walking or standing. Other injuries may cause a diminished quality of life, such as the inability to play with your children or travel. Your lawyer will consider the impact of your injuries on your everyday living to determine future medical bills in a slip and fall case.
Emotional and Mental Trauma
Slip and fall accidents cause more than physical injuries. They also cause emotional and psychological trauma, such as anxiety, stress, or depression, which can significantly disrupt your life. You must present sufficient evidence to demonstrate that you have emotional or mental distress. This may involve a mental health professional testifying on the impact of the slip and fall accident on your mental well-being.
Some states, such as Nevada, have a modified comparative negligence rule. This rule allows you to receive compensation even if you are partially liable for the accident. Your share of liability is, however, deducted from the total compensation amount.
This rule could significantly affect the value of your claim if you partially contributed to your slip and fall incident. You might, for instance, bear some percentage of fault if you ignored warning signs regarding the hazardous condition.
Sufficient evidence to show the other party’s fault and prove your claim value is essential in winning a personal injury claim. The best way to maximize your compensation is to present sufficient and compelling evidence.
How a Premises Liability Lawyer Can Help
You must do everything correctly after getting injured in a slip and fall incident. If you accept a low settlement offer or one that does not include the full extent of your future medical damages, your case will close. In other words, you cannot pursue any further compensation for the same incident or accident in the future. You will have to cover any additional medical bills you incur in the future out of pocket. That’s why you should do everything the right way from the start. The best way to do that is to involve a skilled premises liability lawyer early in the process.
Your lawyer will work with your doctor and other medical practitioners to determine the timeline of your recovery journey and future medical needs. The lawyer will add the estimated cost of each medical need to come up with a reasonable amount of future medical damages. The lawyer will then initiate settlement negotiations with the insurance company and argue your case skillfully to maximize your settlement.
A slip and fall case may proceed to trial if there is a disagreement about the liability or value of the claim. In addition to taking the steps to determine future medical bills in a slip and fall case, a trial-ready lawyer will actively compile trial evidence. A personal injury will also look for medical practitioners and other professionals to serve as expert witnesses in your case. Such steps will increase your likelihood of winning a reasonable financial award at trial.