If you get into a car accident in Baltimore, and another driver was to blame for the crash, you should be compensated for your injuries. Unfortunately, things are not always that simple. The at-fault driver and his or her attorneys will challenge you on nearly every medical expense you make, claiming that they should not be required you to pay for it because it is not “medically necessary.”
In some of the most severe car accidents, though, the injuries you can suffer are serious enough that no medical procedure is guaranteed to make you better. Instead, there are only experimental procedures or risky surgeries that might or might not help you get better. The question then becomes: will the other driver still have to pay for these procedures?
The answer, unfortunately, is it depends.
Personal Injury Cases Aim for Compensation
Recall that the ultimate goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to get the victims of an accident the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. Because the only way victims can be paid, though, is through money, this means there has to be a dollar amount put on the costs of their injuries. Once this dollar amount is determined, the person responsible for the crash should have to pay no less, but also no more, than their fair share.
An important element here is for the compensation to cover the costs of your injuries. If you get hurt in a car accident, but then use your time in the hospital to also get medical attention for a prior injury, it would be unfair to put the costs of that additional medical care on the person responsible for the car crash.
The costs of your injuries sustained in the accident are easy to determine if they are simple and relatively straightforward. If your injury was limited to a broken arm, then the medical bills, lost wages, and any potential impact on your future earnings are easy to calculate.
However, if your injuries were more severe, like a brain injury or an injury to your spinal cord, the medical care that you need is far less certain. Some doctors and surgeons might disagree on what kind of care you need, and the chances of a successful recovery fall from certainty.
In the middle of this complexity is an accident victim's legal obligation to mitigate their own damages.
After getting hurt in an accident caused by someone else, victims need to take reasonable steps to reduce the costs of their damages. This is meant to avoid the situation where the person who caused the accident would have to pay for costs that they were not necessarily responsible for.
For example, imagine a situation where one person causes a car accident that breaks a victim's rib, but the victim refuses to get medical attention and, because of this refusal, the broken rib dislodges and punctures their lung. In this case, the person who caused the accident would be liable for the costs of the broken rib, but not for the costs of the punctured lung because the victim did not mitigate their damages by getting medical care for the rib injury.
Victims Need to Seek Medical Care that is Reasonable
Personal injury law in Maryland aims to strike a compromise in this dilemma by requiring accident victims to get the medical attention that is “reasonable” for the purposes of their recovery. Medical care that is reasonable is that which would be wise to pursue because it is not a waste of money for the potential benefits that it offers, and is also likely to prevent injuries from developing and getting worse.
Of course, whether a specific procedure is “reasonable” depends on the circumstances of your case and the precise nature and cost of the procedure. However, there are instances where it can be deemed reasonable for a victim of a car accident to get medical treatment that is still considered experimental.
When Experimental Care is Reasonable and Recoverable
Just because some medical procedures are considered “experimental” does not mean that they are automatically unreasonable and their costs unrecoverable in a personal injury lawsuit. If an experimental procedure has a relatively high chance of success, relatively low cost, few side effects or dangers, growing acceptance in the medical community, and would be something that other people would consider worth pursuing, then there is a good chance that a court would have the liable driver pay for it.
These factors are by no means all required: there will be instances where a very costly treatment can be deemed reasonable by a court. There are also times where a very risky medical procedure will be deemed reasonable, especially if the victim is so severely hurt that the potential dangers are relatively light when compared to the victim's current condition.
In the end, it often takes the knowledge and skills of a personal injury attorney to convince a court that an experimental treatment is objectively reasonable and medically necessary for the injuries that you have suffered in a car accident. If successful, the difference that this can make would be huge: if the court decides that the treatment would be reasonable, then the at-fault driver would be responsible for paying for it, providing the financial resources that can mean the difference between seeking the experimental treatment and having to live without it.
Gilman & Bedigian: Baltimore Personal Injury Attorneys
The personal injury attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent car accident victims both inside a courtroom and outside of it. This includes arguing for a victim's right to compensation even for medical treatment that some people would consider experimental.
If you or a loved one has been severely hurt in a car crash in Baltimore or the rest of Maryland, are interested in pursuing a medical procedure that might be considered experimental, and want to know if the costs of the treatment would be covered by the other driver's insurance company, contact us online for the legal help you need.