If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident and gotten hurt, there are numerous ways for the incident to leave a negative mark on your life. Most prominent among them, though, are the costs of your recovery. Medical expenses in America are shockingly high and many accident victims – from car accidents to people who get hurt when they slip and fall on someone else's poorly-maintained property – suffer numerous and severe injuries. Victims are often saddled with medical bills that are nothing short of eye-popping. For those costs to come from injuries that you did not cause and did not deserve can be incredibly frustrating.
The personal injury lawyers at the Gilman & Bedigian law office in Baltimore can fight on your behalf both inside and outside the courtroom. With our team of attorneys on your side, you can formally request the person or the people who were ultimately responsible for your losses to pay their fair share of the costs of your recovery. This includes the exorbitant costs of your medical expenses.
The High Cost of Medical Care in Baltimore
One of the things that accident victims are shocked to learn first-hand is that medical care is extremely expensive in Baltimore and the rest of the United States.
According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical expenses are not only well above the global average; they are shockingly high across all sectors of the health care field. It is not just the price of prescription drugs that are above average – it is also the costs of doctors, of administrative costs in hospitals, and even the costs of diagnostic tests like MRIs. Even the same medical test is between twice and more than four times as expensive in the U.S. as it is in comparable countries in the world. The average cost of a coronary artery bypass graft surgery was $75,345 in the U.S. in 2013. In Switzerland, the same procedure cost $36,509 to complete. In the Netherlands, it only cost $15,742.
Unfortunately, these heightened costs for health care are felt by accident victims throughout their road to recovery. From the emergency care that you need in the immediate aftermath of the incident all the way through the final physical therapy session that you need to return to full strength, the cost of the medical care that you need is staggering. At every stage of your recovery, the medical expenses that you are being billed are far beyond what other people pay in other countries even for the same care that you are receiving.
Medical Expenses and Legal Damages
Luckily, the personal injury law of Maryland recognizes that accident victims deserve to recover the costs of their medical expenses when they were not responsible for the accident occurring. These medical expenses are the most integral part of your legal damages in an accident that was caused by someone else's negligence.
You can recover compensation for the legal damages that you have suffered – including the medical expenses you have had to pay for your recovery – in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
The Wide Variety of Medical Expenses
The extraordinary costs of medical care in the U.S. are made worse by the fact that accident victims in Baltimore tend to overlook several very important aspects of medical attention and treatment that they are likely to need after a severe accident. Even the simplest injuries can require several different types of treatment, accruing thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Many of those dollars come from aspects of the recovery process that accident victims did not account for, resulting in an overall cost that is often thousands of dollars above what had been anticipated.
The Costs of Emergency Medical Care
The first cost that accident victims are likely to accumulate is the cost of the emergency medical care that they needed in the immediate aftermath of the incident that caused their injury. Because of the immediate need for this medical attention, it is often even higher than one would expect – even if you already know that medical expenses in America are higher than they are elsewhere.
Emergency care can take on a variety of forms. It includes the attention that you receive on the site of the accident by the emergency medical technicians, as well as the costs of the ambulance ride. Emergency care extends into the emergency room, as well, where the expenses accumulate rapidly in the form of wound cleaning, sutures and stitches, and the other kinds of life-saving care that severely hurt people can need after a devastating accident.
Every one of these medical expenses can run into the thousands of dollars. While the costs of an ambulance ride depend on the type of emergency – there are basic life support and there are advanced life support ambulance rides – they can quickly approach $3,000. In the Baltimore area, where the wages and the costs of living are higher and therefore the costs of nearly everything else increase, an ambulance ride can cost even more.
The high prices in the ambulance, unfortunately, do not stay in the ambulance. Emergency room bills are also notoriously inflated, perhaps even more infamously than ambulatory bills. Everywhere there are reports from across the country, including in and around the city of Baltimore, of patients receiving jaw-dropping bills for even the least amount of medical attention possible. A report by Vox found numerous instances of patients being billed thousands of dollars even though they either refused medical attention or got something as minimal as an ice pack. For those who visit an emergency room in need of urgent or life-saving care, the costs can be astronomical.
Diagnostic Tests and Doctor's Visits
Once the emergency care has been received, accident victims often need to see one or more doctors to get a proper and full diagnosis of any medical issues and injuries that they suffered in the incident. In some cases, these doctor's visits can happen in the days or even weeks after the accident. In others, though, these consultations happen in the immediate aftermath of the accident before you have even left the hospital.
Again, the costs associated with these doctor consultations are exceptionally high. Not only do the bills that you receive reflect the costs of the doctor's time, but they also add in administrative work, as well as the costs of receiving diagnostic tests. These additional costs can come as a shock, even to those accident victims who had anticipated the medical expense of seeing one or more doctors to start their path to recovery.
The costs associated with these diagnostic tests are not insignificant. Getting a simple MRI test can run into thousands of dollars. Worse, these costs fluctuate depending on when and where you get the test. They can also rise precipitously if the test is needed immediately or on an emergency basis.
A 2015 report by the International Federation of Health Plans investigated the costs of some of these diagnostic tests in the U.S. and compared them to identical tests in other developed countries of the world. While the average costs of these tests in the U.S. were often at or near the most expensive in the world, wide variation in the costs of common exams in the U.S. put some of them far above the most expensive in the world.
For example, the report looked at abdominal CT scans and found that the average cost of one in the U.S. was $844. This was the second most expensive average cost of a CT scan in the report, just behind the United Kingdom's average of $860. It was also far more expensive than third-ranked Australia, where identical CT scans of the abdomen cost only $483. However, the prices of these tests in the U.S. were so variable that the most expensive 5% of them cost $2,364, nearly three times the national average.
To make things worse, American medical facilities and hospitals are known for sending patients through a wide battery of tests that is far beyond what is strictly necessary for a solid diagnosis. The Journal of the American Medical Association found that around one in four diagnostic tests that were performed were not medically necessary, according to the very physicians that were conducting them.
Whether the key goal for this practice is really to cover for potential medical malpractice liability, as hospitals often claim, or to increase their profits is unclear. For accident victims, however, the result is the same: higher bills and more medical expenses for a series of diagnostic tests that are only tangentially related to your injuries or that only rule out long-shot diagnoses and rare medical complications.
The High Costs of Surgeries
People who have been hurt in accidents often need further medical care, particularly if the accident was a serious one. In many cases, a surgical procedure is necessary to correct a severe medical condition that was sustained in the accident whether that condition is a broken bone, a head, back, or neck injury, or even a serious disfigurement.
While accident victims are likely to think of these medical expenses, the surprisingly high costs of health care extend into the surgical theater as well. Once again, these costs are exorbitantly higher in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world, making it even more difficult for accident victims to predict the amount they are going to have to pay or to cope with the financial hit of getting the health care they need.
In the 2015 report by the International Federation of Health Plans, the average cost of many common surgeries in the U.S. was well above the average costs in other developed countries. Worse, though, the report found that the prices for the same surgical procedure varied widely across the U.S. and that the most expensive renditions of a particular procedure cost well above the national average.
For example, one of the surgical procedures that the report focused on was a hip replacement – a procedure that is not uncommon after a slip and fall injury or a serious pelvic trauma from a car accident or motorcycle crash. The average cost in the U.S. for a hip replacement, according to the report, was $29,067. This was well past the costs of an identical procedure in Australia, the second most expensive place for the surgery, where the costs for a hip replacement were $19,484. However, this nearly $30,000 was only the average price for a hip replacement in the U.S. The cost for a hip replacement in the 95th percentile in the U.S. was a staggering $57,225. While the price of a hip replacement was usually nearly 50% higher in the U.S. than it was in the next most expensive country in the world, one out of every twenty hip replacement patients were paying nearly three times as much.
While some accident victims know that they are likely to spend vast amounts on their emergency care, subsequent doctor's visits, diagnostic exams, and any necessary surgeries, most overlook the costs of any medical supplies that they might need once they leave the hospital. These supplies can take on a variety of forms, catered to the type of support that you need to deal with the injuries that you suffered.
- Crutches for lower extremity breaks or fractures
- Wheelchair for severe injuries to the lower extremities
- Sling or cast for broken bones
- Neck brace for a severe neck injury
- Prosthetics to replace a lost limb
The costs of these supplies can also be staggering, especially if your injuries were severe and require specialty or unique equipment.
The Costs of Prescription Drugs
Similarly, prescription drug prices can also sneak up on accident victims in Baltimore and inflate the medical expenses that they had already expected to pay for their recovery.
The terribly high costs of prescription drugs have long been such a serious issue in the U.S. that major political candidates take strong stances against it, claiming that they will bring them down far enough that patients across America can get the care they need. Unfortunately, drug prices remain staggeringly high.
The issue of drug prices was tackled, once again, in the 2015 report by the International Federation of Health Plans. This report found that just like with the costs of diagnostic exams and surgical procedures, the costs of countless prescription drugs were far higher in the U.S. than elsewhere. However, the sharp jump between drug prices in other countries and in the U.S. was more extreme and far more uniform than for other medical expenses.
For instance, the cost of the drug Xarelto – a prescription drug that can prevent or treat blood clotting – was an average of around $100 in other developed countries in 2015. In the U.S., though, an identical dose cost an average of $292. Tecfidera, a drug that treats relapsing multiple sclerosis, cost an average of $5,089 in the U.S., but only $1,855 in Switzerland, the second-highest cost in the countries included in the report. Even OxyContin, a common prescription painkiller, cost an average of $265 in the U.S., and less than $100 everywhere else.
For accident victims who have been severely hurt and are likely to need numerous doses of prescription drugs over the next several months or even years, each and every one of these price hikes are going to take its toll on your finances. Going without these necessary prescriptions is not an option, making it all the more important to recover the costs of your medical expenses in a successful personal injury lawsuit.
Occupational and Physical Therapy
Even after the emergency care, doctors consultations, and initial surgeries have been dealt with, there is still a long road to recovery for many accident victims in Baltimore. The physical trauma and damage that the injury has done to your body often leave the injured part – as well as the rest of your muscles – woefully weakened or uncoordinated.
Occupational therapy is the initial stop for many people who have suffered especially devastating injuries in an accident in the city. Victims of head, neck, or back injuries, as well as traumatic brain injuries and nerve damage, can all benefit from occupational therapy. Occupational therapy focuses on very basic motor skills and movements that accident survivors often have to “relearn” after a terrible incident. These basic skills and movements can include
- moving extremities like fingers or toes,
- tying knots,
- picking and moving objects, and
For people who have been severely hurt or have lost brain function, occupational therapy aims to – sometimes very literally – get them back on their feet and moving.
For victims who have suffered less catastrophic injuries or who have fought through occupational therapy and need more intensive challenges, physical therapy is often the next step. While occupational therapy focuses more on managing basic movements and being able to accomplish day-to-day tasks, physical therapy involves strength-building exercises that are designed to push compromised muscles and rebuild the strength you had before the accident. For many accident victims who lived active or athletic lifestyles before the life-altering incident, physical therapy is the most important part of the recovery process because it is what stands between them and the full recovery that they are longing for.
Unfortunately, the costs of both occupational and physical therapy are not small, either, particularly when the injury that you suffered was especially severe or debilitating. Worse, many insurance companies are less likely to pay for the costs of therapy than they are for the initial medical expenses you accrue in the hospital.
Pursuing your rights to compensation for your medical expenses through a personal injury claim can be the best way to ensure you recover these costs.
Psychotherapy and Counseling
Your body is not the only thing that can get hurt in an accident in Baltimore. The sights and sounds can linger in your memory, serving as a constant reminder of the pain that you once went through. In many cases, these mental scars can make life difficult, especially if mundane things trigger your memories of the incident and throw you back into the scene. Constantly having to fight to forget about what happened – or at least put it in your past, so you can live in the present – can take its toll on even the most stoic among us. In some cases, this can create physical symptoms and medical complications, like insomnia or weight loss.
The mental and emotional trauma that you can suffer in an especially bad accident is easy to overlook. However, the costs of the psychological counseling that many victims need to make a full recovery are, once again, not small. Worse, the amount that you are likely to spend to overcome the mental obstacles and injuries from the accident is difficult to accurately predict: psychotherapy is a tricky treatment that requires a lot of intangible factors to line up for a patient, elongating the treatment for some of those who have more trouble with the process than others.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Baltimore: The Law Office of Gilman & Bedigian
These medical expenses accumulate quickly and can continue to accumulate for years after the date of the incident. If you were not the person who caused the accident that led to your injuries, having to pay for your own medical expenses can be especially frustrating because you know that you were not the one who was ultimately responsible. It can make you feel like a financial victim of the event in addition to a physical and emotional one.
The personal injury lawyers at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian in Baltimore understand this and strive to legally represent those who have been undeservedly hurt through someone else's negligence. With our legal advice, you can rest assured that everything is being done to recover all of your legal damages from the accident, including your medical expenses. Contact us online to get started.