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Court Rules Plaintiff Has Free Choice in Future Medical Providers, Increasing Damages Award

Sometimes cases are appealed because a party disagrees with the court’s decision on the issue of liability. However, sometimes the liability issue is not disputed, and the issue on appeal is only the amount of damages awarded. In a recent case, a plaintiff argued that his damages award was incorrect because it did not allow him to choose his own medical provider in the future. The man sued the government after his surgery at a VA hospital rendered him quadriplegic. The government was found liable for his injuries, and the man was awarded damages of over $4 million.

At trial, the man testified that after his surgery he must use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, must use a catheter, and suffers from pain daily. The court awarded the plaintiff $500,000 for past pain and suffering, $1.5 million for future pain and suffering, and $2,469,859 in economic damages. The damages included an award for future medical care and benefits. However, the trial court offset the economic damages award for the plaintiff’s future medical care by subtracting the medical care and supplies that would be provided by the VA for free, as a veteran.

The appeals court found that the plaintiff’s future medical care award should not have been reduced as a result of free services provided by the VA. The court held that federal law did not require an offset of a veteran’s damages that could be provided at a VA. In addition, the plaintiff was not required to take advantage of free services provided by the VA. Doing so would deprive the veteran of the ability to choose where to receive his medical care. The court said that he should not be forced because of financial reasons to continue to receive medical care from the provider that was actually responsible for causing his injuries.

Damages Awards for Future Medical Expenses in Illinois

A plaintiff can recover damages for any reasonable past, present, and even future medical expenses. Yet, while a plaintiff can only recover for the cost of reasonable medical expenses, this does not necessarily mean the amount of actual medical bills. For already paid expenses, it is generally presumed in Illinois that plaintiffs only pay medical bills that are reasonable—however, even bills already paid can be found to be unreasonable expenses.

Even future medical expenses that an individual does not wish to undertake (such as an operation) can still be awarded to the plaintiff—in case he ever changes his mind. Similarly, if a treatment is not yet planned, a plaintiff can still be awarded damages for the cost if an expert can testify, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the treatment will be needed in the future. It is important that a plaintiff demonstrate what medical expenses will reasonably be incurred in the future. The reason is because generally a plaintiff is not allowed to return to court later on to ask for more money.

Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?

If you believe you have been injured as a result of negligent medical care, a medical malpractice claim could allow you to recover for past, present, and future medical expenses, as well as other damages. The skilled Illinois attorneys at Moll Law Group are committed to helping you recover the money that you deserve. We help people file claims who have suffered from a misdiagnosis, a surgical error, a birth injury, or another form of medical malpractice. If you want to learn more about filing a medical malpractice claim, fill out our free consultation form or call us at 312-462-1700.

See More Posts:

Recent Case Discusses How Settlement Terms Can Bar All Future Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 1, 2016.

Safer Technologies in Cars, But Not For Everyone, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, February 2, 2016.

Court Considers Causation Issues in Defective Gun Case, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, March 8, 2016.

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