Frequently Asked Questions - Will Surgery Increase My Injury Settlement?
Accidents are not fun and cause a lifetime of significant physical pain and suffering as well as mental suffering. You can suffer a wide array of different types of injuries even from the smallest of accidents. You do not necessarily need to be involved in a huge accident resulting in a total loss of your vehicle for you to sustain significant personal injuries. Some people are more fragile than others and are more susceptible to injuries. Quite frequently, these injuries unfortunately result in having to undergo a surgical procedure in order to regain some type of pain relief to reestablish a good quality of life.
In the State of Florida, bodily injury coverage is not a mandatory requirement on auto insurance policies. You can opt not to carry this coverage, but you do so at risk of being sued personally if you cause an accident with injuries. Your assets can be taken, and your wages can be garnished. If you are hit by someone who does not carry bodily injury coverage, you can turn to your own insurance policy to see if you have any uninsured motorist coverage available to you. Having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy is a wise decision since bodily injury coverage is not mandatory as uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage compensates you, your resident relatives or anyone traveling in your vehicle at the time of an accident for any injuries you suffer. When you are involved in an auto accident, one of the first things you should verify with the insurance company is how much bodily injury and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is available to you. The more coverage available, the more treatment you can receive for your injuries. If you decide to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you for your claim, your attorney will discuss this information with you and advise you on the best way to move your claim forward under the circumstances.
When you are involved in an accident and suffer any type of injury, you will most likely do some type of physical therapy to try to obtain some pain relief. The doctor will want to check to make sure there was no spinal damage or any tears or breaks to any ligaments or bones. They will refer you for MRIs which can determine if there are any internal injuries. If your MRI reveals any type of internal damage, you will likely be referred to a specialist who can properly treat your injuries.
If you suffer from any type of broken or fractures bones during your accident, these usually heal on their own after you have been placed in a cast or brace. If the bone does not heal or your doctor believes you need surgical intervention, you will probably be scheduled for surgery. If you suffer from any spinal injuries such as disc bulges or herniations, your treating physician will likely refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon to evaluate you. Under these circumstances, physical therapy would probably no longer be useful to you unless you have any additional injuries to other body parts. Physical therapy is generally ineffective for treating disc bulges or herniations. If you are referred to a specialist for your spinal injuries, chances are that the surgeon will opine that you should undergo either a series of epidural or branch block injections or possibly even surgery. If you opt to undergo injections, you will likely require continued injections for the rest of your life as this is only a temporary treatment solution. The only real permanent solution is usually surgical intervention.
Just because you are referred for a surgical procedure does not mean the insurance company will take that into consideration when evaluating your claim for settlement. Insurance companies usually do not compensate you for a surgery you are recommended for, only for a surgery you have had. The adjuster will take all of your injuries into consideration and evaluate your past accident and medical history and determine if the accident was the sole cause of your injuries. If you have been involved in numerous past accidents or have a pre-existing injury to the same body part you are claiming was injured in the accident, even if you have undergone a surgical procedure, the adjuster could claim it as an aggravation and offer you less money for your claim stating that the accident did not cause the injury. If this is the case, even if you have undergone surgery, if you have a personal injury attorney on your case, they will discuss with you the potential of having to file a lawsuit against the insurance company in order to fully compensate you for your injuries.
If the insurance company finds no other pre-existing injuries, the chances of them making a settlement offer in the $100,000.00 range, if there is enough bodily injury or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay out, is pretty good. Surgery definitely increases the value of your claim significantly in most cases as most surgeries are costly and require a period of recovery and physical therapy in order to get you back to as close to the health you were in prior to the accident as possible. Not all but some surgeries, spinal fusions mainly, are invasive surgeries which can leave an unsightly scar. If you have an attorney on your claim, they will probably send pictures of your scars along with your medical bills and records when they are ready to negotiate a settlement amount for you, which will show the adjuster the physical damages you now have to live with for the rest of your life. A surgical claim is almost always worth more than a soft tissue claim which is basically just physical therapy treatment with not much permanent injury, due to the amount of the medical bills, the pain and suffering you have had to endure and the unsightly scars you may be left with. The adjuster will consider all of these factors when making their offer and your attorney will discuss with you if they believe their offer is fair or if you should file a lawsuit against the insurance company.