I have had substantial success in securing high personal injury settlements in cases with low medical bills. But even when the injury is unarguably substantial, it is a challenge to get the defendant or the insurance carrier to see the value of the case. I am also aware that many personal injury attorneys are reluctant to take cases where the economic losses (hospital bills, wage losses, etc.) are low or non-existent. In fact, I have had several clients come to me for help with their serious personal injury cases after the big firms passed on them because of “low medicals.”
The truth of the matter is that how an insurance carrier assesses a personal injury case is completely different from how the jury will evaluate the case. Insurance companies do not seem to look at the factors a jury would normally consider first. Adjusters are robotic in the way they appraise a personal injury case. They first want to know the amount of economic losses. They want to see a track record of the injured person seeking treatment. Then, the adjuster will normally offer an amount of compensation directly related to that amount. In my negotiations with the insurance companies I often hear, “but your client doesn’t have that many medical bills, this is not a six-figure case.”
But what if the injury is bad, and nothing but time can heal it? What if no amount of medical treatment will speed up the healing process?
Unlike the robots at the insurance company, a jury will consider the nature of the injury first. They don’t care if the injured plaintiff paid the ER a $100 co-pay or still owes a $70,000 bill. They consider how the injury has impacted the plaintiff’s life and whether the conduct of the defendant was negligent. Normal people do not work off of formulas, they make decisions based on the circumstances and facts surrounding the situation.
There are many serious injuries which simply cannot be resolved with medical treatment. For example, second-degree burns. Any emergency room physician will agree that burn treatment is limited in the second-degree stage. The skin is scorched and the pain is agonizing but the patient will be sent home after being treated with a simple topical cream and some pain killers. This means that the economic losses are low. I won a jury trial on this type of injury and my client was awarded $250,000 for pain and suffering and $593 for her past medical bills, because that is all the treatment cost her.
Another example of a case I successfully resolved was a skin infection case. There, a young woman contracted impetigo after visiting a local med spa to for a chemical peel. The medicals were low, because other than an inexpensive prescription, only time could heal the scars. That botched cosmetic procedure case also had to be aggressively litigated before the parties came to a favorable settlement.
A large number of personal injury cases in which I achieved great results for my clients did not have high medical bills or wage losses. Therefore, low medical bills in a personal injury case does not mean low compensation! But, you do have to be willing to file a lawsuit and get ready for a trial.