Most of my clients want to know what happens if their injuries get worse as they age. The concern is that last year’s car wreck will cause health problems in the future. Much like old football injuries or injuries that happened in the military, many people in South Carolina do not experience the full effects of an accident until decades later.
For instance, a 25-year-old who is struck from behind may appear to make a complete recovery over the course of several weeks. However, unseen and unfelt damage may have been done to the young person’s back. As an older man, he may question why his lower back is sore and why one of his toes is numb when he wakes up in the morning. He may think it is a sign of aging, or he may recall the car crash from his youth.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in South Carolina, it’s important to know the at-fault driver's insurance carrier must compensate you not only for past medical expenses, but future medical needs as well. Likewise, you should receive compensation for the permanent effects the wreck may produce on your health.
You Can Receive Compensation for Future Pain and Expenses
Once the body sustains serious trauma, it rarely returns to its previous state. A bulging disc is unlikely to heal itself. A displaced hip does not always fall back into place. In other words, time does not heal all things, and the cost of treatment for these injuries can add up quickly. In fact, a 2012 study by the CDC showed, that on average, hospitalizations due to crash-related injuries can cost a person about $57,000 over their lifetime. South Carolina’s auto accident laws therefore provide compensation for your future pain, medical expenses, and loss.
Despite the law, insurance companies are reluctant to allow any compensation for future damages. For that reason, accident lawyers are often hired to help prove what the future will look like for people injured in car wrecks, including the pain they may experience, the treatment they’ll need, and the costs they’ll incur.
How We Fight for Future Medical Damages After a Wreck in South Carolina
In cases involving lifelong injury, we will obtain a "life care plan." We work with physicians, physiatrists (injury rehab specialists), therapists, and life care planners to determine what future medical care you may need and how much it will cost. We then utilize these expert medical opinions to maximize the value of your case. To drive the point home to the insurance company, we ask experts what will happen if our client does not receive necessary medical care. In other words, “What will Ms. Smith’s life be like if the knee is not replaced, if medication is not provided?”
Life care plans and compensation for future harm are not intended to create windfalls. Rather, such compensation is designed to prevent the injured person from bearing the weight of the medical bills they will face when they get older.
Imagine the alternative. Instead of the at-fault driver’s insurance company paying for treatment, it would be the victim, his family, his health insurance company, or a government program. Put differently, if the law did not hold at-fault drivers accountable for every loss they cause, the responsibility (and the cost) would fall upon victims and taxpayers. For these reasons and many more, you can recover compensation for future medical treatment so long as a doctor agrees that such treatment may prove necessary.
Speak to an Accident Attorney to Determine Your Options
If you are unsure as to the permanent harm you sustained in a car crash, or if the insurance company is disputing the need for future care, I would not sign a “Release” before first speaking with your doctor and a trusted car wreck lawyer. Once you sign the “Release,” your case is over, and no more money will ever be paid, no matter how much you hurt or how much treatment you need as you age. Therefore, know your rights and make sure they are protected.
No one has the right to violate our laws, cause you harm, and make you more susceptible to future medical needs. You should not bear the weight of their negligence 20 years from now. The at-fault driver is fully and forever responsible for the harm they cause. That includes your current medical bills, as well as the pain you might experience down the road. My stepmother deals with back pain every day because of a car crash in the 1970s. Not only has she required surgery, she is also reminded of that wreck every time the pain shoots from her low back down her thigh.
I don't want anyone in South Carolina to face a lifetime of increased health risks, bills, and painful memories, yet go uncompensated for these harms. Your settlement must account for every consequence put in motion by the negligent driver. If you have questions about any aspect of your car accident case, it is always better to receive a free consultation from a car accident lawyer than to rely on an insurance company that increases its profits by paying you less.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth E. Berger have years of experience handling cases like yours, and would be honored to help you and your family with the legal recovery process while you focus on healing. Our offices are conveniently located in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, and we proudly serve the Sumter and Florence areas, as well as the entire state of South Carolina. Call us today at 803-790-2800 (Columbia, SC) / 843-427-2800 (Myrtle Beach, SC), or start a live chat 24/7 with a real, live person to arrange a free and confidential consultation.