HOW DO YOU RECOVER FOR FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES AFTER AN INJURY IN GEORGIA?
Future medical expenses and injuries going on into the future are a huge driver of the value of personal injury and car accident cases. So, most people correctly ask: how do you recover for future medical expenses after an injury in Georgia? In order to recover for future medical expenses in Georgia, you must have a medical opinion that states to the required degree of certainty that the medical care is needed.
Georgia law provides a basis for compensation related to future medical expenses after an injury. However, it is the responsibility (or burden) of the injured party and their injury attorney to establish the basis for the payment for future medical expenses. Georgia law states, “In all cases, necessary expenses consequent upon an injury are a legitimate item in the estimate of damages.” O.C.G.A.
§ 51-12-7. In order to recover for future medical expenses, at least two things are required to be established: (1) the future medical expenses are necessary, and (2) the cost of the future medical expenses.
WHAT IS THE BASIC LEVEL OF PROOF THAT IS REQUIRED TO ESTABLISH THAT FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES ARE NECESSARY IN GEORGIA?
While Dr. Lindley testified that plaintiff's leg, low back, and thoracic pain were, in his medical opinion, susceptible to nearly complete remedy by physical therapy, he was further of the opinion that plaintiff's neck “condition was becoming chronic….” He testified that plaintiff's “neck problem may get worse, and that's generally because … there is a disc abnormality, [… which is] more likely to develop more arthritis….” Subsequent examination, after physical therapy, showed that “the prognosis from the thoracic pain and low back and left leg pain was very good, and that she would probably improve and that would go away…. From the neck and right arm pain, [however,] she certainly continued to have symptoms and [even] if she did improve, there's still a chance of re-injury.” Plaintiff “might even need surgery on her neck if she continued to have neck problems.” Specifically, if plaintiff “continued to demonstrate abnormalities such as a Spurling sign, then [Dr. Lindley] would recommend surgery.”
“In all cases, necessary expenses consequent upon an injury are a legitimate item in the estimate of damages.” OCGA § 51-12-7. Since Dr. Lindley had already testified that plaintiff's neck pain was chronic, i.e., continuing, and was susceptible to reinjury, and that he would recommend surgery if plaintiff failed to improve through physical therapy alone, the jury in the case sub judice was not left to determine the need for future surgery based on speculation and conjecture alone. Bennett v. Haley, 132 Ga.App. 512, 514(1), 208 S.E.2d 302. Compare Daugherty v. Vick, 127 Ga.App. 767, 769(3), 195 S.E.2d 208. The trial court correctly denied defendant's motion for partial directed verdict as to this special item in the estimate of damages.
Food Lion, Inc. v. Williams, 219 Ga. App. 352, 355, 464 S.E.2d 913, 916 (1995)