Will My Future Medical Costs Be Taken Into Account In A Settlement?
The future is very tricky because a lot of times, it may be written in a doctor’s report that there is going to be a surgery but many times, the jury will say, “I do not think that surgery is ever going to happen.” We are just guessing at future events. Some people heal very well versus people that have very, very serious conditions. They may be in a permanent coma, and the jury will be wise enough to award a reasonable amount for those horrible expenses. Social security can help, but future surgeries are not often accepted by the jury. Sometimes you have overtreatment and projected overtreatment. In other words, you have had soft tissue injury, a sprain, a strain, you have had a chiropractor or physical therapy that has worked up a huge bill and is also saying they are going to do more work in the future. A jury will not accept that bill and future bills in that area.
But you always get the best medical treatment that you can and reasonable treatment because you do not want to have a chronic condition. If you get better as well as you can, that is a victory unto itself. Remember one thing further. When you see big numbers, you do not want those big numbers, because those are usually horrible injuries, those are people on wheelchairs, those are people that lost an eye. That is what they call Blood Money. If you are in that situation, then you need that money. It will keep you alive hopefully for the rest of your life, but otherwise, you do not want to ever wish for that kind of money.
How Can Pre-Existing Injuries Impact My Personal Injury Settlement Amount?
Pre-existing conditions are often a very difficult battle. People have similar injuries to the present ones in their medical records. The insurance company will get the medical records for the last 10 years, and if they see similar injuries, they are going to say, “Hey, we may have worsened it a little bit, but we are not paying for this. This was there already.” Of course, the plaintiff will argue you take the victim the way you find them, if they are weakened by pre-existing conditions and they are like an eggshell, they are more prone to be injured worse. If they did not have pre-existing injuries, it is a case that works in the plaintiff’s favor. It is a battle of those two arguments, between plaintiffs and defendant’s doctors, to convince a jury one way or the other. Juries are very careful about not being suckered into paying for old injuries, so you have to be careful in presenting your case. Sometimes, you cannot throw everything in, because it may actually hurt you.
They also have to try to distinguish the pre-existing from the present because many times, it looks the same, but it really is not the same. Your own medical records can kill you because it could be the exact complaints that you have now presented. You’ve got to read those medical records very carefully, and again, the insurance company and the doctor and their attorney is going to say, “They are never going to get that surgery; they are just packing it in there, but it is never going to happen.” Pre-existing complicates the case, it can work in your favor and it can work against you. You just need an attorney that is experienced in dealing with pre-existing injuries.
How Are Settlement Amounts Calculated?
There are numerous factors. If you ever sat in a jury room, you will be shocked on certain things that are given more force than other things. But they are calculated on jury verdicts in the past with similar injuries, they are calculated on what was the extent of the injuries, is it a multi-surgery case, is it just a broken toe, again the extent of the injuries rules. Is there a permanent disability, will they not be able to work again, are they losing a large amount of income because of the job they had, was it a neurosurgeon that will never perform surgery again. That depends on where the case is tried. In Arizona, it is usually where the accident happened is where it is tried. Certain counties are much more conservative than others. Some of the counties, because people do not have much money, $1,000 is a lot of money, and you are going to get a lower verdict. All the above-mentioned factors and many other things are considered when assessing the value of the case.
Future bills and medical condition are important, future surgeries, how long is the pain and suffering going to be, did something poke you in the eye, is somebody in a wheelchair and they are not going to walk or use any of their extremities again, or is it just a sprain/strain case or whiplash? Another thing is how much insurance is there? I repeat, there are very few cases where you recover against the person that caused the accident. Most people live paycheck to paycheck or they go bankrupt if you press it too far. Percentage of fault, if you are 100% not at fault, you will receive a much better award than if you are 60% at fault. I conclude that with 10 different days, 10 different juries, 10 different trials, you will get 10 different verdicts even with the same facts.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Generally Paid Out?
They are paid out by check with the attorney’s name on it and the person that was hurt, then it is deposited in the attorney’s trust account and eventually disbursed with an accounting where the funds are going. Sometimes, in Arizona, if somebody is less than 18 years of age, it has to be court approved by a judge that it was reasonable, and it can stay in a trust until the person becomes 18 years of age. It can be done in structured settlements, sometimes it is to a plaintiff’s benefit for taxes, and you need an attorney that knows the ramifications or the different pluses and minuses of a structured settlement. A structured settlement is basically if it was a $300,000 settlement, there will be intermittent cash payments and then, there would be maybe monthly payments or maybe some monies at the end of a certain amount of years, etc. There are all types of structured settlements. That is a world onto itself, and if it is done correctly, it can be favorable to the plaintiff.
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