How to Prove Medical Damages in Your Car Accident Claim

How to Prove Medical Damages in Your Car Accident Claim on an image of a woman who is suffering damages from a car accident.

After a car accident, expenses for medical damages can pile up while you’re trying to heal. If this sounds familiar, you’re probably wondering how to make sure those bills don’t go unpaid.  Florida law allows for responsible parties to be held accountable for both past and future medical expenses.

Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases 501.2 [1] cover the elements of Personal Injury and Property Damages. The expenses of medical damages for the Care and treatment of the claimant involve: “The reasonable [value] [or] [expense] of [hospitalization and] medical [and nursing] care and treatment necessarily or reasonably obtained by (claimant) in the past [or to be so obtained in the future].”

Past Medical Expenses

Right after a car accident, some expenses are pretty easy to see. The ambulance ride, the emergency room visit, the follow-up doctor appointments, x-rays, medicines—the list goes on. These are your past medical expenses. These are the actual, real-world costs that show just how much you’ve been through financially because of the accident.

Proving these expenses might sound daunting, but it boils down to one key activity: documenting everything. Every time you shell out money for something related to your accident—no matter how small—make sure you get a receipt or a bill. Think of these as pieces of a puzzle that, when put together, showcase the full picture of what you’ve had to spend on getting better.

What About Future Costs?

Future medical expenses are the costs for medical care that you’re likely to need going forward. It’s one thing to know you’ll need more treatment; it’s another to convince someone else—like an insurance company—to pay for it.

In Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Tompkins, the Florida Supreme Court found that the trial court improperly instructed the jury that future economic damages were recoverable only if the insured sustained permanent injury. Damages for future economic loss can still be recovered without permanent injury. Instead, “a claimant must establish only that the future economic damages are reasonably certain to occur. While proving a permanent injury can be an important factor in establishing that such damages are reasonably certain to occur, it is not an absolute prerequisite.”[2] It is also important to know that a permanent injury is required for pain and suffering damages in a car accident case.

Although a permanent injury is not an absolute prerequisite to recovering future economic damages, it is a big part of showing the reasonable certainty of future damages. You don’t need to prove that your injury will last forever to ask for money for future medical care. What you do need to show is that it’s more likely than not that you’ll have these medical expenses down the road based on your life expectancy and what your treating doctors and experts recommend. Using the “reasonably certain to occur” standard, you’d want to show that all clues—like your current medical reports and doctor’s opinions—point to you needing more treatment.

While we can’t predict the future, we can make an educated guess based on what the doctors are telling us. To make that prediction as accurate as possible, we bring in a key player: the life care planner.

The Role of a Life Care Planner

“A life care planner is an expert in assessing the needs of a person who has suffered a severe injury or other medical condition that requires long-term treatment. Rather than focusing on the patient’s immediate medical care, a life care planner develops a plan to address the victim’s needs throughout their lives.” [3]

Think of a life care planner as a guide who helps you map out your medical road ahead. With their expertise, they take an in-depth look at your injuries and lay out a plan of treatments, support, and any aids that’ll help you get by. They consider your day-to-day challenges and the long-term—everything from potential surgeries and physical therapy sessions to home modifications and long-term nursing care.

Their plan isn’t just a rough estimate; it’s your story of recovery, translated into future medical needs and costs. It shows what it will take to manage your injuries, explained in numbers and needs that an insurance adjuster or a jury can understand.

Life care planners and your legal team have a big job! They can’t just pick numbers that sound about right—they need to be spot-on, justifiable, and fit within what the law says is fair. To seal the deal, they might look at other legal cases similar to yours to make sure what they’re asking for aligns with what courts have supported in the past.

Medical Expenses: Wrapping It All Up

Facing medical bills after a car accident is tough, and figuring out how to prove your expenses is a huge part of the battle. But suppose you remember a few key pointers, like holding onto every bill, leaning on professionals for a prognosis, and connecting with a personal injury lawyer who understands your needs. In that case, you’re in a much better position.

Keep in mind, that no two accidents are the same, so your medical damages will be unique to you. Your future healthcare needs aren’t just a list of services and support, they’re the tools that help you get back to your life and take care of yourself.

By showing a complete picture of your health and financial needs—both today and in the future—you’ll lay the groundwork for the compensation that should rightfully be yours. It’s not just about the money; it’s about securing the means to heal and embracing what’s to come with confidence and support.

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can feel like you’re lost in a storm of medical bills and insurance forms. That’s where we step in! The car accident lawyers and team at Lipinski Law can help guide you through the process. With a compassionate team by your side, we’re here to take some of the burden off of you and share our knowledge to ensure you obtain the peace of mind and compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a confidential consultation! [4]


[1] Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases 501.2 https://www.floridabar.org/rules/florida-standard-jury-instructions/civil-jury-instructions/civil-instructions/

[2] Auto-Owners Ins. Co. v. Tompkins, 651 So. 2d 89, 90 (Fla. 1995).

[3] “Know the Value of Your Personal Injury Case with a Life Care Planner.” Occupational Assessment Services, Inc., https://www.oasinc.org/know-the-value-of-your-personal-injury-case-with-a-life-care-planner

[4] Lipinski Law practice areas: Auto Accidents https://lipinskilaw.com/auto-accidents/

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