Is Treatment From My Therapist Covered In Personal Injury?
As a personal injury lawyer, I often hear this question from a lot of my clients who are being treated by mental health therapists and other clinicians. The answer to this depends on your response to what I ask you: Do you think your treatment may be the cause of your injury? If you do, then you can claim the procedure and consider it part of the damages you incurred. However, whether the insurance company or the jury acknowledges, that is yet another story.
About Personal Injury
For personal injury cases, the person who is injured (the client) is entitled to acquire damages for everything that he incurred that have resulted from the opposing person’s negligence. Medical expenses that were spent by the client including those that are in the list of things to buy for treatment must all be covered by the claim.
Therefore, if the client (plaintiff) is provided with mental health treatment from a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist due to mental or emotional problems that are associated with the resulting damage, the client can include the treatment and claim for injuries. However, the claim may or may not be accepted. Why? Read on.
Most lawyers, including me, would agree that the most effective way to get compensated for mental health treatments to be included in a personal injury claim is to ask the opinion from a certified health care professional. This health care professional must vouch that a patient’s emotional or psychological illness is indeed directly or indirectly a result of the specific accident.
Mental Health Therapy As Part Of Medical Treatment
The category of medical treatment in personal injury damages is quite comprehensive. Clients can be refunded of their medical expenses not only for basic treatments such as regular checkups, admissions, physical therapy, radiology, and medications but for mental health services as well. This includes services done by counselors, psychiatrists, therapists, psychologists, and licensed social workers.
The plaintiff (client) suing for personal injury typically claims damages for mental health services just as long as the treatments given are causally associated with the defendant’s negligent acts. The key to a strong case is the causal relationship between the two. If the plaintiff’s mental health problems – or his therapies – are not indirectly or directly caused by the accident in question, then the plaintiff is not going to be compensated for the treatments. This is the principle that is followed for both personal injury lawsuits and settlements.
Here are a few examples of when you as a plaintiff may be covered. For instance, the rear end of your car was hit while you were driving, and you were forced towards the opposite side of the road because of the collision, causing your car to hit another vehicle. Due to the accident, you have incurred several physical injuries as well as a severe anxiety disorder. You can’t seem to forget the incident. Your primary physician suggests that you see a mental health therapist who can help you deal with the disorder. In this circumstance, it is undeniable that your treatment with a therapist is directly related to the incident that happened to you. You are sure to claim damages for your anxiety disorder as well as charge your therapist’s bills to your insurer.
Another example would be a less obvious claim, like if the client met a minor accident and she incurred only mildly painful hip and back strain. He recuperated easily from her injury in less than four weeks, yet claims that while she was recovering, she was also experiencing sleepless nights and frequent crying since the accident occurred. She has a hard time forgetting about the accident. Her doctor suggests that she undergo counseling to help her deal with this dilemma.
In this case, because it was upon her doctor’s recommendation that she undergo counseling to alleviate her psychological issues that were related to the accident, the client would still be qualified to claim for the expenses she spent for the counseling. But because her injuries were mild, she should not expect that things would go smoothly with the insurer or the jury, as they might reject your claim and decide not to give her a refund for her expenses with the counseling.
Overall, the bottom line is that if you as a plaintiff are planning to claim for damages for any expenses related to an unfortunate incident, your best bet would be to seek an opinion from a certified health care professional, such as your primary physician. He should vouch that your mental and emotional problems have arisen following the incident. Then you will have a stronger claim for damages.