Car accidents are prevalent in the U.S. – it records the most road crash deaths,…
Even minor car accidents can cause debilitating injuries that require intensive medical treatment and weeks or even months of physical therapy. Car accident victims undergo physical therapy to reduce physical pain and stiffness, improve mobility, and prevent their injuries from worsening. Attending these sessions could also increase the amount of compensation they receive if they were injured due to the negligent actions of others.
Nathan Fitzpatrick, a leading Georgia car accident attorney, has been advocating on behalf of car accident victims since 2009. During that time, he has negotiated with insurance company claims adjusters dozens of times. In this article, he explains how attending physical therapy sessions after a car accident could speed up your recovery and give you or your attorney a much stronger position from which to negotiate a car accident physical therapy settlement.
Understanding Car Accident Settlements
Car accident settlements compensate injured motor vehicle occupants for their economic and noneconomic damages. If a car accident victim or their personal injury attorney cannot reach an amicable settlement with an insurance company at the negotiating table, the jury could also award punitive damages if the case goes to court.
Economic damages compensate car accident victims for their vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and lost income. Noneconomic damages are paid to compensate accident victims for their pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. Juries award punitive damages in cases involving gross negligence to deter others from behaving in the same way.
Many factors influence the size of a car accident settlement. Serious accidents cause serious injuries, and serious injuries lead to higher settlement offers. Aspects that could influence the amount an insurance company offers to settle a car accident claim include:
- The injuries suffered: Settlement offers are higher when accident victims suffer injuries that cause chronic pain or long-term or permanent damage. These injuries cost more to treat and cause more pain and suffering.
- Time off work: Insurance companies compensate accident victims for the money they lost while they were unable to work. This amount is determined by the victim’s income and the number of paychecks they missed.
- The victim’s occupation: Insurance companies may offer more to settle car accident claims when the victim’s injuries could impact their livelihoods. For instance, models or actors who suffer facial scarring would likely be offered more than senior citizens with the same injuries.
- Supporting evidence: If car accident victims are not able to back up their claims with evidence like medical bills or paystubs, the settlement offers they receive are likely to be lower.
- Whether or not a lawyer is involved: Insurance claims adjusters are skilled negotiators. If car accident victims go into settlement discussions without an experienced lawyer in their corner, they will probably leave money on the table.
Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Claims
Some car accident victims do not pursue compensation because they believe common misconceptions about car accident claims are true. One of the most common of these misconceptions is the belief that car accident victims will be denied compensation if they were partly to blame.
Georgia follows the modified comparative negligence principle in tort cases, which means accident victims can recover compensation even if they were partly responsible for causing the accidents that injured them. The amount of compensation they receive will be reduced to reflect their degree of fault, and they will be barred from recovering compensation if the facts indicate that they were more than 50% responsible.
Another common misconception may lead a car accident victim to accept the first offer an insurance company makes. They agree to open offers because they believe a strict formula generates the amounts and cannot be adjusted, but this is not true.
Also, claims adjusters do all that they can to save their employers money, and that includes making low settlement offers when car accident claim negotiations begin. Claims adjusters usually go into these discussions with an upper figure in mind, but reaching it may require hours or even days of intense negotiations.
The Role of Physical Therapy in Car Accident Claims
Attending your sessions for physical therapy after a car accident can greatly influence how much an insurance company is willing to offer to settle a claim. The cost of the sessions will increase the amount of economic damages an accident victim is entitled to, and prolonged physical therapy can also increase the amount of noneconomic damages recovered in a car accident case.
Physical therapists take detailed notes during their sessions that record how much pain and discomfort their patients experience, and these notes could influence the sum an auto insurance company offers a car accident victim to compensate them for their pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
Attending your physical therapy appointments for weeks or months also demonstrates that accident injuries are not being fabricated or exaggerated. Soft tissue injuries are easy to fake because doctors find them difficult to diagnose, but fooling experienced therapists who are experts in treating these types of injuries is much, much harder.
Another thing is that physical therapy records are absolutely essential in Georgia car accident cases. That's because they can be used as proof of severe injuries. So, when an insurance claims adjuster sees that a car accident victim took time off work on a daily or weekly basis to attend their physical therapy appointments, they are far more likely to conclude that their severe injuries are genuine.
Who Pays for Physical Therapy After a Car Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident in Georgia, and you have medical coverage from your employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, your health insurance should cover the cost of your sessions for physical therapy. You should still keep accurate records of your sessions as they could help you to recover your insurance copays, lost income, and traveling expenses.
If you do not have health insurance, you will have to pay for the sessions out of pocket or work out a payment arrangement with your physical therapist. Physical therapy sessions usually cost between $80 and $120, but they can prevent your injuries from getting worse and help you to recover more quickly.
If you pay for your sessions for physical therapy out of pocket, you will probably want to get your money back as quickly as possible. This is a little easier in Georgia than it is in some other parts of the country because of the state’s at-fault insurance law.
This law allows car accident victims in the Peach State to file claims with their own insurance companies if they have comprehensive coverage, even if other drivers caused the collisions that injured them. Filing a claim with your own insurance provider and then letting them pursue a negligent motorist’s insurance company will probably speed up your claim significantly.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Seeking legal assistance after a major auto accident is always a good avenue to pursue, and this is especially true when the injuries suffered require extensive physical therapy. Most personal injury attorneys offer new clients a free consultation to discuss their options and plan their legal strategies, so you should not have to spend any money or take any risks to find out how an experienced professional could help you.
An attorney could examine the facts of your case and advise you on how to proceed. He or she may explain how keeping accurate medical and payroll records and attending all of your physical therapy appointments could increase the amount of compensation you receive, and an experienced attorney could also gather evidence that could strengthen your claim.
An attorney or their investigator could visit the accident scene to look for eyewitnesses who did not give statements to the police or cameras that could have captured the events as they unfolded. An attorney could also negotiate with an auto insurance company on your behalf, and they could file a personal injury lawsuit if the settlement offers you receive are not acceptable.
Navigating the Insurance Company Process
The auto insurance claims process usually begins with a phone call and ends with settlement negotiations. Here are the things that you can expect to happen if you are involved in a car accident and file an insurance claim:
- Accident report: When you call your or the other driver’s insurance company to report the accident, you will be asked to describe the events and provide the police report number. The police report is important because it contains important information and indicates who was to blame.
- Repair estimate: The insurance adjuster assigned to the claim will want to see your vehicle or read a repair estimate before authorizing work to begin.
- Documentation: If you suffered injuries in the accident, the insurance adjuster will ask for medical bills, pay stubs, and other documents that they feel are necessary to properly process your claim.
- Negotiation: When the insurance organization has all of the information it requires and you have completed your medical treatment, you should receive a settlement offer. Settlement negotiations are sometimes conducted over the phone, but talks are usually held in a lawyer’s office when the sums involved are significant.
Documenting Physical Therapy for a Settlement
Keeping track of your daily or weekly appointments could greatly increase your chances of receiving a larger car accident physical therapy settlement. Therapist bills, gas and parking receipts, and bus or rail tickets will support your economic damages claim, and they will also show that you attended your appointments.
This fact is important because it shows that your injuries were painful enough to convince you to take time off work. If you skip appointments, the insurance adjuster may conclude that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
Negotiating a Fair Car Accident Settlement
People who are injured in car accidents often accept an insurance company’s first offer because they want to get through the process as quickly as possible and believe that further negotiation would be fruitless. They arrive at this conclusion because insurance adjusters are trained to lead accident victims to believe that settlement offers are determined by formulas that cannot be changed. If you want to be fairly compensated for your economic and noneconomic car accident damages, you should reject the first offer and prepare for lengthy negotiations.
Dealing with Insurance Company Tactics
Insurance companies try to settle claims for as little as possible, and they employ several tactics that are designed to convince car accident victims to accept their initial offers. The most common of these tactics are delaying strategies that frustrate accident victims who need settlement funds to make ends meet.
Letters may be sent to request information that could be obtained over the phone, and documents could be requested one at a time instead of in batches. When car accident victims have suffered serious injuries, claims adjusters may question the decisions made by treating physicians. This delays the process even further, and it may convince an accident victim to give up and accept what they are being offered.
Frequently Asked Questions about Car Accident Physical Therapy Settlements
People who are involved in car accidents must deal with police officers, auto repair technicians, doctors, therapists, and representatives from insurance companies. Few people have experience in these matters, so accident victims usually have plenty of questions. Here are some of the car accident settlement questions we hear most often at the Fitzpatrick Law Firm.
What mostly affects car accident physical therapy settlements?
The thing that affects car accident settlements the most is the severity of the injuries suffered by the victim. The largest settlement offers are made to accident victims who were blinded, maimed, or left permanently disabled.
For example, some soft tissue injuries that cause chronic and debilitating symptoms can last for a long period of time and will be eligible for higher settlement amounts. On the other hand, minor injuries that require only short-term physical therapy may result in comparatively smaller settlements. Additionally, the impact of the injuries on the victim’s daily life, ability to work, and overall quality of life will also be taken into account during the settlement negotiation process.
What happens if I miss some of my physical therapy sessions?
It’s important that you attend physical therapy since skipping or missing your sessions for physical therapy can have significant consequences. That is especially true when considering the human element of not recovering as quickly as one should or suffering from permanent injury aftereffects. These sessions play a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, aiding individuals in regaining their mobility, strength, and overall well-being after an accident or injury.
The human body’s ability to heal and recover relies heavily on consistent and appropriate medical care, including physical therapy. When individuals miss these sessions, it not only delays their recovery but also raises concerns for insurance adjusters evaluating their claims. Insurance companies rely on the continuity of medical treatment as an indicator of the severity of injuries sustained.
It’s a sad fact, but there are insurance companies that don’t like to pay the costs related to therapeutic and rehabilitation services. If there are gaps in treatment, the adjuster will likely jump on that and question the legitimacy of the injuries or assume they are not as serious as claimed.
That’s why it’s crucial after a Georgia car accident happens to assemble key evidence like medical bills or any copays or costs when you require physical therapy.
Apart from the medical and insurance aspects, there is a profound emotional and psychological impact on those dealing with extended recovery periods or permanent injuries. Missing physical therapy sessions not only affects the physical healing process but can also lead to frustration, discouragement, and a sense of helplessness. It is essential for individuals in such situations to prioritize their health and well-being by committing to their prescribed treatment plan, which includes attending all recommended physical therapy appointments.
Therefore, participating in your sessions for physical therapy is vital for both physical recovery, the successful handling of insurance claims, and the successful outcome of an accident claim.
Acknowledging the human element of injuries and their potential long-term effects, individuals should remain dedicated to their treatment, understanding that consistent care and rehabilitation can significantly improve their quality of life and help them move towards a more complete recovery.
By doing so, they can ensure a smoother and more efficient claims process while maximizing their chances of receiving the appropriate compensation for their injuries and losses.
Does physical therapy actually do any good?
Doctors recommend physical therapy because it prevents injuries from worsening, restores mobility, and eases pain. Physical therapy also sends oxygenated blood to the injury area, which reduces swelling and promotes healing.
How long does physical therapy last?
A series of physical therapy sessions can be as short as a few days or as long as several months. The type and severity of the injury being treated will determine how many physical therapy sessions are needed.
Get The Most Out of Your Car Accident Settlement. Receive a Complementary Case Review By An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer From The Fitzpatrick Firm
If you have suffered injuries in a Georgia car accident case, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages. Dealing with insurance companies that are trying to settle your claim for as little as possible can be a frustrating experience, which is why it may be a good idea to go into negotiations with an experienced professional on your side. The Fitzpatrick Firm has recovered millions of dollars for car accident victims, and we could advocate fiercely on your behalf. If you would like to schedule a free consultation for your car accident claim, you can call us at (678) 607-5550 or fill out our form below.