Written by attorney David Phillip Folkenflik

Car Accident Question: Should I have the Surgery?

Many times in my career representing people injured in car, truck, and motorcycle crashes, I have had clients told by their doctor that they need to have surgery to recover from their accident related injuries. Sometimes clients will call me and tell me they can't decide whether or not they should "bite the bullet" and have the recommended surgery, even though they feel like they could possibly get by without it for a while.

To these clients I usually say "only you can decide whether or not you need the surgery". I usually take the position that, if you can't function normally and get through your day to day activities, working, caring for spouse and children, etc., without substantial pain and discomfort (or without a lot of medications), then you probably shouldn't put the surgery off. You also have to keep in mind that, where surgery has been recommended, most insurance companies are not going to pay much if any settlement money at all for surgery you haven't yet had. In other words, the money you need to have the surgery and rehabilitation in the future is unlikely to be included in your settlement. In my opinion, insurance adjusters simply don't "respect" surgery as part of your auto accident claim until after you've actually had the surgery.

There are of course exceptions, but in my experience they are few and far between. The fact of the matter is, in accident claims, insurance companies will rarely give "credit" for surgery which has not yet occurred. So, with that in mind, if you have been told by your doctor that you are a candidate for surgery as a result of your auto accident, and if you truly feel that you will need the surgery at some point in the future because of the auto accident, you should probably go ahead and have the surgery while you have an open auto accident claim since there is a much better chance that you will recover (as part of your settlement) the money necessary to pay for the surgery, rehabilitation, follow-up care, and lost wages that you are likely to incur as a result of having gone through the surgery. Of course, you should always get the advice of your own auto, truck, or motorcycle accident injury lawyer before proceeding with any costly medical procedure to be sure that a sufficient settlement or verdict is even possible to cover your medical expenses and other damages.

Ultimately, as an accident victim, your goal is to get your health restored back to the point where you can handle all of your daily activities and work, and other responsibilities in a reasonably pain-free manner. You want to be as fully functioning an individual as you were before you were hurt in the accident. As the lawyer in an accident case, my goal is to make sure that my client gets the medical care they need, that it gets paid for as part of the accident case, and that my client is left with money from the settlement to pay for the future medical expenses which they are likely to incur as a result of the accident injuries they sustained.

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