How Physical Therapy Expenses Are Paid in Car Accident Settlements

Attending prescribed physical therapy after a Georgia car accident can mean your injury case settles for more money. But, how will you pay for it? This resource written by The Millar Law Firm car accident attorneys may help.

Key Points:

  • Physical therapy after a Georgia car accident can be paid for by health insurance, or alternative funding such as medical payments coverage, medical liens or funding if you do not have medical insurance.
  • Insurance companies sometimes attempt to save money by trying to convince victims who do not have insurance to end their claims early, before the full extent of their injuries is known.
  • Before you consider settling your Georgia car accident case without completing your physical therapy, contacting a car accident lawyer might open additional resources to you, such as treatment on a medical lien.
  • Physical Therapy liens can often be paid at the time your personal injury case settles, so that you do not have to pay out of pocket at the time of therapy.

Here are some important things you should know about receiving and paying for physical therapy treatment after a car accident and how your expenses may be repaid through your personal injury settlement.

Why It Is Important NOT to Skip Your Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

As you may know, after a car accident the road to recovery can be a long journey. During this process, your doctor will work with you to determine the best course of action and may recommend physical therapy as part of your treatment plan.

Physical therapy can speed recovery, lower your pain, increase mobility, or rebuild strength after injury or trauma. It can also help prevent future complications or secondary injuries from arising.

But, insurance companies also rely heavily on physical therapy records to determine “how hurt” they consider you. If an adjuster sees that you are skipping therapy appointments, you may be accused of not really being hurt.

Additionally, when you attend physical therapy, the clinic will document how much pain you are feeling, your limitations, and how long it takes you to recover. These records are important later in your case when it comes time to negotiate a settlement with the adjuster or present evidence in a deposition or trial.

How Physical Therapists Can Help Settle Your Injury Case For More Money

Physical therapists are specially trained health care practitioners who help patients manage problems associated with injuries or other physical limitations. Physical therapy may be recommended to patients for pain management, stiffness, or other complications of an injury or surgery.

A physical therapist will usually document a patient’s pain levels, strength and movement through the healing process, and make adjustments to increase balance and fluid movement, which can help lessen the risk of secondary injuries.

The speed of your recovery and your day-to-day pain and suffering are large factors in the settlement value of a Georgia or Atlanta area car accident case. Insurance adjusters, Judges and Jurys are not likely to take your word for how you were feeling after the collision. However, physical therapy records showing that your pain was a “10” on a scale of 1-10 are powerful evidence that can increase your settlement offer.

Is Physical Therapy the Same as Chiropractic Care?

Some of the processes used by physical therapists and chiropractors are similar. Both disciplines are practiced by licensed professionals who use a hands-on, holistic, and drug-free approach to restore pain-free movement and mobility over time. However, there are some differences between the two practices and their strategies for healing.

Physical therapists, for instance, concentrate on the muscles and soft tissues of the body, while chiropractors work with the spinal cord, nerves, and vertebra to achieve their goals. Depending on the type of injury a patient faces, a doctor may recommend working with one or both of these health care providers to improve the chances of a more successful recovery.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, both a physical therapist and chiropractor will provide careful records of your injury and progress toward recovery. These detailed medical records will be critical in maximizing your claim’s settlement.

Why it is Important to Your Car Accident Settlement to Follow Your Physical Therapist’s Advice

First and foremost, following your doctor’s or therapists instructions is often the best advice when it comes to recovering from your injuries. Physical therapists use many techniques that ease stiffness and pain in areas that were overextended, stretched, or strained during a collision.

Practitioners may use a combination of stretching exercises, massage, heat, and electronic stimulation of muscles to help relieve the painful tension and discomfort caused by injuries. The same techniques can also help to build muscle tissue, which can help restore function more quickly.

On the legal side of things, if you have been prescribed physical therapy and you do not attend, you can expect insurance adjusters and defense lawyers to argue that you are not really hurt, or even worse, have been faking or exaggerating your injuries. Excuses that you don’t have time to attend physical therapy are seldom accepted by insurance companies, who will begin taking money off the table if they do not believe you are badly injured.

Personal injury lawyers who handle car accidents may have a harder time recovering full compensation for your injury, if you are not following the instructions of your doctors and therapists, or begin skipping appointment. Of course, if you are better and do not need care, by all means, you may stop going for more treatment. However, one of the most difficult conversations a lawyer may have with a client is to explain that a case has become harder to prove because not all of the recommended medical care has been received.

I need my money now. Should I forgo further treatment? 

This depends. The goal is always to ensure that you have reached maximum medical improvement for your injuries. If your doctor has discharged you from care and recommended treatment on an “as-needed basis” you may be able to forego additional treatment. However, this should be discussed thoroughly with your attorney and medical provider.  

The Cost and Recovery Timeline of Physical Therapy

Because physical therapy usually requires an ongoing approach to healing, the recurring visits can become expensive quickly.

Individual sessions with a physical therapist can vary widely by location and provider but may run anywhere from $20 to $150 per visit. If you have health insurance, your coverage may pay for treatments; however, you’ll still be responsible for any co-pays and/or deductibles required out of pocket.

If you were injured in an accident caused by another driver, all costs for this care should be included in your personal injury accident claim. After an initial evaluation, your physical therapist should be able to provide you with an estimate of the time your therapy and rehabilitation will take.

Paying for Physical Therapy After a Car Accident

In Georgia, it can be difficult to receive full compensation for your auto accident injuries unless you seek and receive the medical care you need. This includes physical therapy. You can expect an insurance adjuster to try to minimize your pain and suffering if you have not had the appropriate medical care, therapy or procedures.

If you have medical insurance, use it! Some people worry that they should not use their personal or employers healthi insurance to pay for care after a crash. Don’t be. This is why you have it. Failing to use it can harm your case.

If you do not have health insurance, it is often possible to reach an agreement with your doctors and physical therapy clinic to pay at the time once a settlement agreement is reached in your car accident injury case. It is common for medical facilities like hospitals and rehab clinics to obtain a lien against the eventual settlement, giving them assurance of payment and you relief from the stress related to the mounting costs following the accident.

What You Should Know if an Insurance Company Pressures You to Settle “Quickly”

When you’ve been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, the law expects the at-fault driver to compensate you completely. However, insurance companies sometimes pressure victims to quickly settle a claim before you know how long medical care will be needed or how much it will cost.

In many cases, insurance companies try to save money by ending claims before the victims know the full extent of their injuries and recovery process. This is a recipe for financial loss for the victim because in most cases, once you accept a settlement, you cannot return later to have additional bills or compensation paid.

Before you consider closing your claim and accepting a settlement, be sure you actually know if you have a long-term or permanent injury, and if you will need additional medical care or physical therapy.

Most attorneys who specialize in personal injury law offer a free initial consultation so you can understand your rights and the best way to protect yourself. Also, many legal teams work on a contingency-fee basis, which means you will not be charged unless you win your claim.

Make Sure Your Claim Is All-Inclusive

When lawyers calculate the amount of the claim, they will ensure all your costs are considered. This means not only the hospital, doctor, and rehabilitation costs, but also time missed from work, medication expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, and all other losses – even the costs needed to have someone mow your lawn while you’re recovering (assuming you have the receipts to prove it).

A good legal team will also include future costs in your settlement. This means the costs for future treatments or surgeries if they become necessary. Ideally, the accident should not have represented a financial burden for you or your family.

Should I get an MRI or continue treating at the chiropractor?  

If, after extensive chiropractic care, you are still experiencing unresolved pain, let your chiropractor know; they may be able to refer you for an MRI.

Schedule a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another person, you owe it to yourself and your family to be certain the negligent party pays for all your expenses.

Make an appointment with us today for your free initial consultation. After you have discussed your claim with one of our personal injury specialists, you’ll better understand your rights and know how to proceed.

Call today: 770-400-0000. We’re standing by to help.

- D. Lo
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