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 “things 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.
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. 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, we get treating physicians and medical experts to explain – in detail – what future treatment our clients may need, as well as the cost of such treatment.
In cases involving lifelong injury, we will obtain a "life care plan." 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.
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 an attorney. 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. To find out how I can help, call my Columbia, SC office today at 803-790-2800.