Future medical expenses: The dangers of speculation | Allen and Allen

Future medical expenses: The dangers of speculation

The vast majority of injured clients who I have the privilege to represent have concerns about their future medical needs. In the aftermath of serious physical injury, these concerns are both natural and understandable.

money and a face mask - high cost of medical bills

Injuries to the structural integrity of the neck, back, shoulder, or knee can and often do result in pain, mobility restriction and the need for additional medical intervention years after the initial trauma. When those injuries are caused by the negligence of a third party, and when we are discussing full, fair and most importantly final financial compensation for these injuries, we always have to consider what the future may hold in terms of additional medical treatment.

Under Virginia law, the plaintiff is entitled to full and fair financial coverage for any medical expenses incurred from the injury as well as any “that may be reasonably expected to occur in the future” as long as there is adequate proof to establish, “by the greater weight of the evidence” that the future treatment is both reasonable and medically necessary.[1]

Future medical expenses are considered speculative when the testimony establishes only that the plaintiff might require future treatment, including but not limited to surgery.[2] In lay terms, the law does not provide financial compensation for what could happen; it states that injured plaintiffs are entitled to financial compensation for what is most likely to happen.

In the immediate aftermath of their injury, most people receive medical treatment in an emergency room. From there, they are seen by their primary care physician, are referred to a specialist, undergo therapy, pain management and/or have surgery. At the conclusion of this treatment, most people feel some significant level of improvement in their daily pain. For some, the pain may even be completely gone. Importantly, this does not mean that the injury is fully healed. The pain can, and often does, return.

In order to satisfy the legal requirements that govern sufficient proof for future medical treatment costs, I meet with my clients’ medical providers and obtain their opinions on the nature and extent of the injury, as well as the potential need for additional medical interventions in the future. The opinion letters that these physicians provide can be submitted to an insurance carrier or used at trial.

Instead of speculating about what the future may hold, this proactive step allows us to prove what the future will likely hold for the injured plaintiff. With proof in hand, the costs and inconvenience associated with the future treatment can be calculated and appropriately considered either by an insurance company negotiating a settlement, or by a jury determining case value.

If you or someone you know is injured by the negligence of a third party, the attorneys at Allen & Allen have the experience necessary to properly gauge the future medical treatment costs associated with the injury. Call us for a free consultation, at 866-388-1307.


[1] See Virginia Model Jury Instruction 9.000

[2] See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Kendrick, 254 Va. 206, 208-09 (1997).