One key element of every personal injury case is your “medical damages.” That simply means the amount of expenses you incurred seeking medical diagnoses and treatment for your injuries. This amount makes up a large part of your total damages in a personal injury case. The way your damages are calculated depends on several factors, including the type of medical treatment you receive and the type of medical providers who rendered that treatment. For this reason, obtaining medical treatment after a personal injury can have a huge impact on your personal injury claim.
How insurance adjusters view your medical treatment
When an insurance adjuster is reviewing your claims to determine whether settlement is a good idea, they typically do not view all types of medical services the same. They consider both the nature of the medical treatment and its duration. They also consider the type of health care provider involved. Here are a few examples of the differences in medical treatment and how they can affect the value of your damages.
Diagnosis and treatment of a medical condition
Obviously, a health care provider must first diagnose your condition or injury before he or she can properly treat that condition. In order to arrive at a diagnosis, most often certain tests or diagnostic tools must be used. In many cases, these tests are quick and not very costly, as compared to the treatment aspect of your care. In most cases, insurance companies simply lump all of your medical bills together, without making a distinction between diagnosis and treatment. An exception to this general rule would be when a doctor orders numerous, expensive tests to ultimately determine the injury is minor and needs little treatment. In those cases, insurance adjusters may see that as simply “running up” the medical bills.
Physicians and hospitals
You may not realize that there are strong prejudices against the more non-mainstream forms of medical treatment, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. The result is that more weight or legitimacy is given to medical bills from a medical doctor, hospital or medical clinic, no matter how expensive. Consequently, insurance adjusters see non-traditional care as being less effective and value that treatment much lower.
The value of physical therapy
For instance, physical therapy is a common treatment for most personal injuries. However, it is usually considered to be lower in the pecking order than other types of medical treatment. If you have a few weeks of physical therapy prescribed and administered by your doctor’s office, an insurance adjuster might lump that in with other medical expenses. That might not be the case, however, if you receive physical therapy for months and the therapy accounts for the largest part of your medical bills.
Treatment by non-physician healers
Unless you have a doctor’s prescription for such treatment, other nontraditional treatments are given even less weight than physical therapy. This would include acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic care, massage therapy, and herbal healers. Regardless, this does not mean you will not be reimbursed for these expenses. It simply means that the value of this treatment will not be as high as other traditional forms of medical treatment.
Your primary concern should always be to obtain the type of medical care with which you are most comfortable and that you think will be the most beneficial. Just be aware that if you choose services not provided by a physician, an insurance company is likely to compensate you at a lower rate.
If you have questions regarding medical treatment, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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