If you have been injured in an accident in Illinois and another party is at fault, you are entitled to damages, which may include your medical expenses. Past medical expenses usually present a relatively simple issue, as they entail money you already have spent (or debts you have incurred) due to medical care as a result of the injuries you suffered in the accident. However, many accidents result in injuries that will require long-term care—or at least care that extends beyond the conclusion of a civil action to recover damages. In that case, you will have to prove both past and future medical expenses, which can be two very different propositions.
Past Medical Bills
When you are injured in an accident through the fault of another person, you are entitled to receive compensation for the medical expenses you incur because of the injuries you suffered in that accident, among many other losses. Proving past medical expenses is a relatively straightforward process, as noted. You will need to provide documentation for expenses such as:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
- Emergency room treatment bills
- Ambulance services
- Nursing services
- Pharmaceutical receipts
- Physical therapy bills
You must demonstrate that the bills were for medical services necessary to treat the specific injuries you suffered in your accident. In general, though, the proof consists of documentation of your medical costs.
Future Medical Costs Require Different Proof Than Past Costs
Future medical costs obviously haven’t happened yet, and cannot be documented by medical bills that already have been (or still must be) paid. Rather, future medical costs are expenses for medical care that will be incurred due to treatment of accident-related injuries that will occur after litigation is resolved.
Typically, future medical costs are an issue with serious injuries or long-term, chronic conditions that result from the injuries suffered in the accident. You can recover for future medical expenses if you prove that you will need continued medical care because of the injury suffered in the accident, based on the estimated cost of that care.
To prove future medical costs usually requires expert medical testimony. Physicians and other healthcare providers would have to testify about the medical care you will require in the future as a result of your injuries. The proof must include enough detail to make it possible to ascertain roughly what that future care will cost.
Medical Costs Can Vary from Case to Case
Just as no two injuries are the same, medical bills that result from an accident will never be exactly the same for different accident victims. Some people who sustain accidental injuries will only require one or two trips to a doctor, while others may have extended hospital stays with ongoing treatment. No matter how much your bills may be, you still deserve to be compensated for them by a liable party. The method of obtaining compensation, however, may vary depending on how much medical debt you have incurred.
If you go to your usual doctor, you may only incur a couple hundred dollars in medical expenses depending on the tests and treatment that you need. Of course, costs go up if you need medication, medical equipment, or physical therapy. Your bills will be higher if you needed to seek treatment in an emergency department, and even more, if you took a ride in an ambulance.
If you were admitted to the hospital for even one night, your costs likely immediately skyrocketed into the thousands of dollars. One report shows the following average cost per day at a hospital in Illinois:
- Government-backed facility: $3,128
- For-profit facility: $1,567
- Non-profit facility: $2,373
The above numbers are from 2014 (the most recent ones available), so it is likely the cost has risen even higher. If someone was injured and stayed in a state or local hospital for seven days, he likely will owe more than $20,000. The costs of hospital treatment are higher if the injuries are particularly serious and require time spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) or a burn treatment unit.
In addition, the costs of surgical procedures have increased in recent years. For example, some back surgeries can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000, depending on the injury. There are often additional costs for surgical recovery, such as a hospital stays, medical equipment, rehabilitative therapy, or even home health assistance.
Recovering for Medical Costs
The approach to recovering medical expenses and other injury-related losses can vary depending on the nature and amount of your losses. For example, if you have a few medical bills and missed a few days of work (and thus lost income), our attorneys may be able to seek compensation for your expenses and losses through an insurance claim against the policy of the liable party. We can often obtain a favorable settlement quickly from an insurance company when the losses are relatively straightforward.
Not all personal injury claims, however, can be resolved through the insurance process. If your losses exceed the policy limits, for example, it would be necessary to file a personal injury claim against the liable party. If your losses include more complex damages such as pain and suffering, permanent disability, or similar intangibles, a court claim may also be the best way to obtain the full compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Personal Injury Attorneys to Discuss a Possible Claim Today
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in injuries, your first step should be to consult an attorney to determine what your rights are under the circumstances of your accident. You may have the right to compensation for past and future medical costs, as well as other losses.
The attorneys of Abels & Annes can assist in protecting your rights when you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries and medical bills, both past and future. You can reach our office at (312) 924-7575 or through our website.