In my last blog entry I discussed past and future wage loss as items of economic damages recoverable by a person injured through the negligence of another. In this entry, I will discuss past and future medical bills, as well as miscellaneous expenses which are also considered economic damages recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Past Medical Bills: This damage is the amount of medical bills that have been incurred to date, as a result of the injured party’s medical or psychiatric treatment. The amount of the bills must be reduced by the amount that was paid either by the injured party’s insurance carrier if it was an automobile accident or by a health insurance carrier if any of the medical bills were paid by the injured party’s health insurance. Recovery of past medical bills may become complicated in cases where a party has received medical benefits from their health insurance carrier because often these insurers have liens against the total final recovery from the negligent party in the case. A lien is created when a third party (health insurance carrier, etc.) pays bills that are ultimately recovered from the party responsible for the incident that is the basis of the law suit. Different types of insurers may have different types of liens, but in all cases it is necessary to analyze the nature of the lien and how it may affect the injured party’s recovery.
Future Medical Bills: This damage represents the amount of money that the injured party’s
doctors project will be necessary to cover all future medical treatment. This amount is a “best guess” based upon the nature of the injury, the types of treatment available, and the injured party’s age. Attorneys often use life care planners who are specialists in evaluating future medical needs to help them predict future medical costs. Because medical expenses increase faster than the general rate of living expenses, attorneys also utilize the services of an economist to determine the real dollars that will be necessary to fund all of the future expenses.
Miscellaneous Expenses: Each case is different and needs to be treated on an individual basis. For that reason, an injured party may experience an economic loss that is particular to their life or life style. In that event, it is the job of the attorney to present the specific loss in a way that is calculable and easy for a jury to understand.