A common question Stillman and Friedland clients ask is “What is my case worth”? However, a better question may be “What is the worth of treatment?”
Cases are settled on the basis of the following:
- Amount of property damage, and
- The amount of medical treatment, in addition to lost wages.
- The length of time treatment is needed.
The reason for these three bases are obvious—firstly, the worse shape your car is in, the more likely it is that you sustained a serious injury. Secondly, it is assumed that the larger your medical bills are, the greater the severity of injury. The longer you suffered, the greater your pain and suffering. These are the “nuts and bolts” for getting to a base analysis of your case’s value. (Of course, there are other factors, and that is where our expertise helps get you the settlement you deserve, and why a lawyer makes a difference in settling your case fairly.)
However, we all know through experience that there are cases in which the vehicle was totaled and yet the driver got out of the accident without a scratch. Conversely, someone may have had a fender bender which resulted in chronic back or neck pain. In the latter case, it is difficult to prove that a severe injury resulted from such minimal property damage.
In a case like this, there is often the suggestion or temptation to rack up a large medical bill in order to “prove” injury. Of course, practitioners may be willing to offer you an extensive and expensive course of treatment.
Does this help or hinder your case? While any conscientious attorney will tell you that without medical treatment you cannot prove injury, racking up extravagant bills for what appears to be a minor injury may simply discredit your case. As we know inside our better, moral selves, the ideal is to achieve fair compensation for an injury, not to win the lottery. It is also crucial to keep in mind that too much and unnecessary treatment will hinder, not help, your chances of financial recovery if it leaves you with medical debts not covered by the insurer.
More importantly, will the treatment help you recover physically? On the physical recovery side, some studies indicate that over-treatment only extends the agony, and does not resolve your pain issues. Overly focusing on your injury is also detrimental—as is using passive therapy, such as medication, in place of actively working to rebuild yourself.
Ideally, the medical system and the patient will work together actively and effectively to minimize or resolve the patient’s medical and pain issues. A preventive strategy to stay fit is another way to help you deal with health challenges.
If you or someone you love has sustained an injury, and a caregiver is proposing more extensive treatment beyond the scope of the immediate injury, it is appropriate to ask your attorney and insurer in advance of incurring a debt you may not be able to pay. We also recommend researching the known efficacy of any treatment offered and seeking a second opinion.
At Stillman and Friedland, our many years of expertise uniquely qualify us to help our clients navigate the best course to recovery.
Because we care…