Magnuson Lowell Blog
Each week we post a blog about relevant legal issues. Glance through our various topics to learn more about a particular legal situation.
For those who have not been involved in a motor vehicle accident, the pain and limitation afterwards are often difficult to comprehend. Even in mild rear-end collisions, whiplash throughout your spine and shoulder can be debilitating. Resolving the pain requires medical treatment, which is expensive. So that begs the question – is an insurance company required to repay your medical bills after a motor vehicle accident?
Legally, the party responsible for causing the collision (or their insurance company) must compensate the injured party for all medical expenses that were reasonably incurred, necessary to treat the injuries, and causally related to the car accident. Unfortunately, car insurance companies like to play games involving this three-pronged test to reduce their costs and low-ball settlements.
Whether treatment is reasonable may seem subjective but in court usually requires an expert witness or treating medical doctor to confirm. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. Insurance companies often decline to pay medical bills arguing the treatment was not reasonable if it falls under this theory. Chiropractic is a wonderful treatment method, but a jury might find five years of chiropractic treatment unreasonable if the patient was not improving or receiving palliative relief with the care.
This facet often also applies to the reasonableness of medical bills. Insurance adjusters often reduce the cost of medical bills in their evaluation arguing that your massage should have cost $50 less. In litigation, lawyers know that medical bills are almost always accepted as reasonable. If the insurer refuses to budge, filing a lawsuit might be your best bet to receive full compensation.
Medical treatment is necessary if it is calculated to provide resolution or symptomatic relief for a related injury. Getting a full body massage might feel good, but an insurance company might argue that it is unnecessary if your only pain complaints were in your left shoulder only.
Causation is typically the most important issue in personal injury cases. Juries are left to determine if the injuries sustained, and treatment received, were related to the collision. The most common detriment to this query is preexisting medical conditions. If the injured driver was suffering from similar back pain in the weeks and months before the crash, the treatment after the fact might not be related. If the patient had previously received a recommendation for spine surgery before the collision, the surgery delivered after the impact may not be related to the accident. Similarly, a post-car accident traumatic event (like another accident) might create causation questions.
During the prelitigation phase of every personal injury claim, attorneys work diligently to develop answers to these three questions. We work together with treating medical providers to obtain written declarations that specifically opine whether injuries and treatment were reasonable, necessary, and related to the collision. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, your claim depends on having an experienced attorney represent you. At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell, PS we are dedicated to helping your case succeed. Call today for a free case evaluation!