In this article, we will be looking at claiming for future losses when you bring a claim for clinical negligence of personal injury. In particular, the cost of future treatment and how you would go about claiming for such a loss, considering that it may not have happened yet.
If you have been injured through clinical negligence, such as a broken limb not being treated properly or through an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence such as a car accident, then there is a high probability that you will require further medical treatment in order to get yourself back to full health, or as close to full health as possible depending on the severity of your injury.
That medical treatment can take months or even years to be complete, and there is always a chance that there will be long-term medical care for the foreseeable future, such as check-up every six months with a specialist for the rest of your life.
Claims for future treatment do not always have to be life-long treatment. It can be a one-off future operation or a one-off batch of physiotherapy, etc. This kind of claim is more common in claims where the injured person is under the age of 18 and has to wait until they are physically mature before the full extent of the negative effects of their injury is known or they have to wait until they are physically mature to get the most benefit from any treatment.
However, these claims are not limited to children; they can happen in a variety of situations, such as when you have to wait for your injury to fully heal before you know the extent of any future treatment needed.
Fortunately, if you can prove that this future treatment is something that you now require solely because of the accident or negligence that you have suffered, then you will be able to make a claim for the cost of future treatment part of your claim for financial compensation.
What Makes Up A Claim for Future Treatment?
A claim for future treatment will be made up of multiple elements. There will be the claim for the treatment itself, usually claimed at the private rate, meaning the cost of the treatment if you purchased it from a private treating doctor or surgeon.
There will also be a claim for the voluntary care that you will need from friends and family after you have the treatment. For example, if your future treatment is an operation of some kind that will have you off of your feet for some weeks and your friends or family members will be providing you with care and assistance during your recovery period, then their time can be claimed.
There can also be a future travel expense claim for which you can claim the mileage you will travel or the rail fares, etc.
There can also be a future loss of earnings claim if you stand to lose out on your wages due to you needing to take time off to undergo the future treatment. Although, if you would receive sick pay for the time off, then you will not have suffered a loss and cannot claim for loss of earnings.
How Do You Make A Claim for Future Treatment?
You will find out if you need future medical treatment either from your treating doctors or the medical expert you use to value your injury. Lifecare planning experts are professionals who specialize in estimating the cost of specific procedures, medications, and interventions given current rates of medical inflation. They also consider variables such as your age, general health before the accident, and treatment options in your geographic area.
If your treating doctors have informed you that you will most likely need future treatment, you should make sure to bring this up with your independent medical expert when they see you before producing their report. Then they can give their opinion on any future treatment you may need. This will also act as evidence of you needing the treatment.
Your medical expert will also be able to provide estimates as to how much such treatment will cost at the private rate, which will help your attorney value your claim. If your medical expert is unable to do this, then either you or your attorney can make enquiries and get quotes from local services.
What If You Need the Treatment Now?
If your future medical treatment can go ahead now and you have the medical expert on the side stating you need this future treatment and you have quotes for how much this will cost, then you can approach the defendants now to see if they will provide the funds for this treatment.
However, it is very unlikely that the defendant will provide funding for this treatment if they deny liability for your injury. This is because they are stating that, in clinical negligence claims, the treatment you received from their doctor was in no way negligent; or in personal injury claims, the accident was not caused by their negligence, so why would they pay for your treatment? If this is the situation, then you can either request the cost of future treatment be considered in any potential settlement or you can raise it as part of your special damages (financial losses) claim when you take your claim to court.
For grievous injuries requiring extensive lifelong care, your lawyer may even retain an expert called a life care planner. Life care planners often have a nursing background. Their job is to develop a thorough, convincing plan proving your needs and the cost into the future.
The amount of your future medical care must be reduced to present value. That means a discount from the total lifetime costs, because a personal injury settlement or verdict gives you all the money now—instead of paying charges as they come in—and that money can increase in value if invested conservatively. As they say, “A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.”
You should now have a basic understanding of how to bring a claim for future treatment, why you would bring such a claim, what these claims are made up of and how you go about proving you require future treatment.