Will Having Surgery Increase My Personal Injury Settlement?

Will Having Surgery Increase My Personal Injury Settlement?

When your personal injury is serious enough to require surgery, the cost can increase your settlement. The value of a personal injury settlement is based on the necessary and reasonable costs of treating the injury, as well as other economic and non-economic losses. 

The cost of medical treatment is just one element of a personal injury settlement. If you have been injured in California, Los Angeles personal injury lawyers tell your story so that none of your losses are overlooked in the fight for full compensation. 

Damages available in California personal injury cases 

California is a fault-based state. This means that: 

  1. A personal injury victim may seek compensation from an at-fault party regardless of the severity of the injury 
  2. Compensation can include both economic damages and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages include all of the losses with definitive dollar amounts attached. They can include medical costs like ambulance bills, doctor and therapist visits, medications, medical supplies, and necessary procedures like surgery.  

Non-economic damages are those that do not have clear financial values like pain and suffering, loss of society and companionship, inconvenience, and mental suffering. 

How personal injury settlements are calculated in California 

Economic damages are relatively straightforward to calculate. The parties may disagree about which expenses were reasonable, necessary, and caused by the accident but the amount of compensation related to them should match the dollar amount of the expenses. 

Calculating non-economic damages is more difficult. A common method is to take the total of the economic damages and apply a multiplier that reflects the severity of the injury. For example, a rule of thumb is to triple the economic losses to arrive at the value of pain and suffering but this multiplier might be smaller than three for a very minor accident or your personal injury lawyer may advocate for a larger multiplier than three when the accident was very serious. 

Because of the relationship between economic and non-economic damages, costs for medical treatment like surgery can have a profound effect on the ultimate settlement value; the cost may be multiplied as part of the non-economic loss calculation.  

When to have surgery after a personal injury 

If your doctor recommends you have surgery to treat your accident-related injury, you should follow the trusted medical advice. However, timing is important. 

When you settle an insurance claim or lawsuit, you will need to present your expenses with some certainty. Having the surgery earlier in the process, if possible, will give you an advantage in knowing what it will cost and whether it was successful. If you delay and it was not successful, you may not know at the time of the settlement whether you will need additional treatment. 

If your doctor recommends surgery but you cannot have it before the settlement, you will need to provide proof of what the costs will be. You may be entitled to receive compensation for anticipated future losses but this is more difficult than showing what the costs actually were because it cannot take into account unexpected changes that may occur. 

Maximize the value of your personal injury claim 

In any case, but especially in a case serious enough to require surgery, there are steps you can take to make sure your compensation is maximized: 

  • Seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible – If your injury is serious, visit an emergency room as soon as possible after the accident. If it is not serious – or even if you do not know that you are injured – see a doctor within 24 hours. A delay can worse injuries you may not even know about and lead the defense to question whether you were actually injured. 
  • Keep careful documentation – Save receipts, invoices, and any other records that verify your medical treatment and its expense 
  • Consider future damages – Once your case settles or ends in judgment, you will not be able to re-open your claim. It is critical to include all of the damages that you will likely incur in the future. 

Fight for full compensation for your injuries 

Each personal injury case presents its own challenges. To obtain full compensation when you may be facing life-altering injuries and mounting medical bills, speak with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who can give your case the attention it deserves. 

The personal injury attorneys at Ellis Injury Law understand the strain that a serious injury can cause. Our team is to help you fight for full compensation. Call today to schedule a free consultation.