Settling your personal injury case is an option if you need compensation and would prefer not to get the courts involved. So, will surgery increase my settlement? That may be a question you are pondering right now.
Victims are obviously looking to maximize the compensation packages they receive. But would opting for surgery help you accomplish that?
Continue with this article if you wish to learn more about the impact that surgery can have on your compensation.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Calculated?
To understand how surgery can affect a personal injury settlement, we first need to discuss how the courts calculate those settlements.
Crucially, there is no strictly defined method for calculating a personal injury settlement. However, most lawyers will base their calculations on how courts come up with settlement amounts.
Courts will base the compensation awarded in a particular case on the actual and general damages involved. The court may also include punitive damages in the financial award they hand down to a plaintiff.
To get things started, let’s focus on the actual and general damages.
Actual damages account for the monetary losses that you sustained due to the accident. Medical expenses usually make up the bulk of the actual damages.
Your compensation should help you pay for your hospital stay and any medication you need. If you require surgery, the actual damages should pay for it.
Long-term medical care in the form of rehabilitation or therapy should also be paid for by the compensation you receive. The same goes for any medical devices you will need because of your involvement in the accident.
Aside from your medical expenses, the actual damages will also pay for repairing or replacing your possessions damaged in the incident. You can also recoup any wages you lost due to the accident via the compensation package.
The other party must cover all the actual damages in your case if they want to present a fair personal injury settlement offer.
Calculating the appropriate amount for the general damages in any given personal injury case is harder than tallying the actual damages. That is because the general damages compensate victims for their non-monetary losses.
The general damages are supposed to compensate you for the pain and suffering you are dealing with in the wake of your accident. We are not dealing with physical pain exclusively here.
For instance, a disfiguring dog attack can significantly affect your mental state. You may suffer from anxiety and lose confidence because of the marks left on your body and face. The defendant should compensate you for the mental pain and suffering you are currently dealing with.
They should also make up for opportunities you are missing out on, and things you may no longer enjoy due to your injuries.
Courts use different methods to calculate the general damages in the cases they handle.
Some courts favor the per diem method. This method involves the court assigning a dollar amount to each day a plaintiff is affected by the injuries they sustained from the accident. Those dollar amounts are combined to come up with the general damages.
Other courts may use the multiplier method to calculate the general damages in personal injury cases. The multiplier method involves multiplying the total actual damages by a number that reflects the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.
The person offering the settlement should also use one of those methods to determine the appropriate amount of compensation.
Your Share of the Blame
The actual and general damages help determine the appropriate dollar amount for your compensation. However, those are not the only factors that they need to consider.
The Lone Star State follows the principle of proportionate responsibility when it comes to determining compensation in personal injury cases. Other states refer to that principle as modified comparative negligence.
For those who may be unaware, proportionate responsibility factors in the plaintiff’s share of the blame to determine the proper compensation package. The percentage of blame that you bear for the accident will also reduce your compensation.
If you were supposed to receive $50,000, but the court finds you 20% to blame for the accident, your final compensation will be $40,000.
There is also a chance that you will not receive any compensation whatsoever. They bar the plaintiffs from recovering any compensation if the court finds them more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Expect the other party to harp on your share of the blame as a reason they are presenting a settlement offer that may be lower than what you expected. You and your lawyer will need to dispute their false claims if you want fair compensation.
Should You Include Punitive Damages in Your Calculations?
Courts attach punitive damages to certain cases to further punish the defendant. The punitive damages are supposed to highlight the severity of the defendant’s actions.
Punitive damages are also meant to act as deterrents. They should discourage others from engaging in the same behavior that got the defendant in trouble.
Typically, courts only add those punitive damages to extreme cases. They often do not play a role in determining the compensation packages for personal injury lawsuits.
It would be better not to include any punitive damages in your calculations.
How Does Surgery Affect Your Personal Injury Settlement?
Now that we know more about how they calculate personal injury settlements, we can turn our attention to answering the question posed at the start of this article. Will surgery increase my settlement?
More often than not, surgery should increase the settlement offer you get from the other party. That is because surgical procedures are considered actual damages.
You are undergoing surgery because of the injuries you sustained from the accident. It would only be fair if the person who caused those injuries also paid for your surgery.
How Much Will Your Settlement Offer Increase if You Undergo Surgery?
Opting for surgery can significantly increase the compensation you receive in your case. But what kind of increase can you expect to see? That would depend on the type of surgery you are having.
People involved in car and motorcycle accidents are more susceptible to leg injuries.
If your leg gets caught between your car door and the other vehicle, there is a good chance it will end up broken. Motorcycle riders are also prone to those injuries because they do not wear much in the way of lower body protection.
According to CostHelper, the average cost of surgically treating a broken leg falls somewhere in the range of $17,000 to $35,000. You can add the specific cost of your leg surgery to the actual damages in your case.
Hip replacement is a procedure many victims of slip and fall accidents require. The impact of the fall could be concentrated on that part of the body and cause a serious injury. Serious hip injuries are more common among older members of the population.
The procedure is something you may need if a property owner did not properly maintain their establishment. Hip replacement is more expensive than surgery for a broken leg. According to Debt.org, the average cost of hip replacement surgery is well over $40,300.
Broken leg surgery and hip replacement are only two procedures that people may need following a serious accident. If you require either procedure or a different type of surgery, your personal injury settlement should cover it.
Do not let the other party get away with omitting that item from their settlement offer. Take them to court if they are not willing to pay up.
What Other Surgery-Related Expenses Should the Settlement Cover?
Surgery is not a standalone form of treatment. It must receive other forms of treatment for it to provide the expected results.
That is why the defendant in your case cannot stop at only paying for your surgery. They must also cover the expenses that are related to your surgical procedure.
Let’s go over those additional surgery-related expenses in the following section.
Consultations with a Surgeon
Before you undergo surgery, you must first check with the surgeon to determine exactly what kind of procedure you will need. Your surgeon will thoroughly examine your condition and decide on the appropriate course of action.
Notably, the surgeon may need to examine you more than once to ascertain the true nature of your condition.
Additional consultations may also be required after they perform the surgery. You need to go to those consultations to understand what is happening to your body.
The defendant should pay for all your consultations with the surgeon regardless of how many you need.
You usually require hospitalization before and after your surgery.
Your doctor may require you to stay in the hospital a few days before your operation so they can stabilize your condition. They may also want to monitor your condition to check if surgery will be safe for you.
An additional stay post-surgery may also be deemed necessary. Once again, your doctor may need to monitor your condition so they can be certain that the surgery is having the intended effect.
Anesthesia is used during surgery to shield patients from the pain caused by the procedure. Of course, anesthesia is not free. Someone will need to pay for that, and that party should be the defendant in your case.
You may also need other forms of medication post-surgery. Certain medications may prevent your surgical wounds from infection. Your physician may also prescribe anti-rejection medication.
Remember to tally the cost of all your medication so you can present that to the other party during settlement negotiations.
If you break a leg or your spine, it will take more than surgery for you to recover. Surgery may put you in a position where you can live like you used to, but actually pulling that off is another matter altogether. That is why rigorous physical therapy often follows surgery.
Physical therapists help patients regain the mobility they lost due to the accident. They essentially re-teach people how to walk and move like they used to.
Undergoing physical therapy is often an important part of recovering from a serious accident. The defendant in your case should include physical therapy payments in the settlement offer they intend to send your way.
Could Surgery Adversely Impact Your Compensation Claim?
Most of the time, undergoing surgery will increase the settlement offer you receive from the other party. Still, there are exceptions to that.
The defendant in your case will only agree to pay for you going under the knife if the procedure you had was necessary.
You and your lawyer need to justify why you are undergoing a specific surgical procedure before you go through with it. Doing that should not be a problem as long as your surgeon vouches for the importance of the procedure. Once that happens, the defendant will have no choice but to pay up.
Things can get tricky if the other side starts to question the real need for the procedure you want to get. They may tell you to try other forms of treatment aside from surgery.
Ultimately, you will not need to worry about that as long as your doctor is backing you up. Their expert opinion will be valued highly by the court, so you can take your claim there if the defendant refuses to pay.
In all likelihood, getting surgery will lead to you receiving a larger settlement payout from the party who caused the accident. If your doctor tells you that you need to undergo a specific procedure, do not hesitate to proceed because someone else will pay for that expense.
We at Barrus Injury Lawyers can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the defendant in your case. Contact us today so we can start negotiating the deal you deserve.