Will I Need Surgery After a Car Accident?
Car accidents can be terrifying, and the resulting injuries can be severe. Surgery may be necessary to save your life or restore your mobility.
It’s a scary situation, but your health should be your top priority.
The sad truth is many Americans have other worries on their mind when they face the need for surgery: “How much will this surgery cost? How will I pay for it?”
In this blog post, we take a look at the costs of surgery after a car accident, and some options victims may have when it comes to paying for it.
If you have specific questions about paying for surgeries you need after a crash, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer right away—because if someone else caused your accident, a car accident lawyer can find ways to help you pay those bills.
Estimating Surgical Costs: What Factors Influence Your Cost?
The costs of many types of surgeries vary dramatically. It’s a complicated web. Different facilities may charge different amounts for the exact same procedure, and even the providers in a single operating room may charge on differing scales. Here are some of the factors that influence the cost of a surgery.
The Cost of Anesthesia
To have any type of surgery – from back surgery to broken bone repair – you will likely need to undergo local or general anesthesia. The cost of anesthesia will depend on how much anesthesia you need and how long your surgery lasts. This cost can grow extensively in the case of a particularly long or complicated surgery. Not only does the anesthesiologist help ensure that you stay unconscious and pain-free during your surgery, the anesthesiologist also helps monitor your vital signs and keeps you medically stable.
All that care and attention, however, brings with it considerable cost. The cost of anesthesia includes the cost of materials used, the medication used, and the anesthesiologist’s time. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to as much as $3,500 or more for anesthesia for a long surgical procedure.
The Cost of Using the Facility
Sometimes, you will have a doctor for your surgery who works directly for the hospital. That doctor might provide services for that hospital alone, so you may get a single bill for your surgery and the facility. Other times, a doctor simply has privileges to practice medicine at a specific hospital.
Surgeons in particular often work with, rather than for, the hospital. If you have a planned surgery following your accident, you may be charged for using the facility on top of the surgeon’s fee. The facility fee covers the cost of your operating room, materials used during the surgery, and even the use of the recovery room. The facility fee may also include the cost of nursing care, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests.
Your Doctor’s Fees
In addition to the cost of anesthesia and the facility where you undergo your surgery, you will need to pay the bill for the doctor who performed your surgery. Your doctor’s fees will depend on the doctor’s expertise, the hospital where the doctor practices, and the complexity of your surgery. An extensive surgery will generally entail significantly higher costs than a relatively minor surgery.
Common Surgical Costs After Auto Accidents
You may sustain several injuries in a car accident. Sometimes, you may need multiple surgeries to help repair all those injuries. No matter what type of surgery you have, the cost can add up.
Take a look at these common surgical costs:
- Spinal fusion typically helps treat slipped or herniated discs. In a spinal fusion, the doctor permanently fuses two or more vertebrae, providing increased stability in the spine after a serious injury. Spinal fusions may help substantially with back pain following an accident with severe injuries. Spinal fusions can cost between $80,000 and $150,000 or more, depending on the extent of your injuries and the type of treatment used.
- Amputations may be necessary due to immediate damage at the scene of the accident or because the tissue in the limb dies after the accident due to a lack of blood flow or other complications in the recovery process. A doctor may advise a patient that amputating a badly injured limb may improve the patient’s prognosis. Amputees may have less pain and, in some cases, more mobility than patients with severe damage to a limb. An amputation can cost between $20,000 and $60,000. Some amputees may also need to undergo more than one surgery on the damaged limb.
- Brain surgery may be necessary after an accident that causes traumatic brain injury. Sometimes, to prevent further injury to the brain, doctors may need to perform a craniectomy. This removes part of the skull to relieve pressure and swelling. Without the procedure, the brain may continue to press against the walls of the skull as it swells, causing increased damage to vital brain tissue. Doctors often perform a craniectomy as an emergency procedure to limit the long-term impact of traumatic brain damage following a severe accident. Brain surgery may cost between $50,000 and $150,000 or more.
- Spinal cord stimulation can help relieve pain after a severe accident resulting in a back injury. Many victims deal with chronic back pain after a car accident, but this pain can be reduced by a device implanted in the back that delivers low-level electrical impulses. These impulses help disrupt the messages sent by the nerves. A spinal cord stimulator can significantly improve the quality of life for many patients, but it also carries a hefty price tag: the procedure can cost between $15,000 and $50,000.
- Knee replacements or other joint replacements may be necessary when a patient suffers severe damage to a joint in an accident. Joints provide vital support and aid in mobility. When a joint suffers too much damage, however, a patient can no longer handle normal tasks of daily life without assistance. A knee replacement can restore mobility. A knee replacement generally costs between $20,000 and $35,000.
- Simple broken bones, even if the patient suffers multiple broken bones, usually heal with proper bracing and support. But some severe injuries, like compound fractures, may require surgical repair to properly set the bone and help it heal correctly. Without that surgery, the broken pieces of bone might fuse together incorrectly and cause ongoing pain, mobility challenges, and further complications. Surgical repair of a broken arm, for example, costs an average of $16,000.
How to Pay for Surgery After a Car Accident
The cost of surgery can seem daunting. You may already be struggling or out of work due to your injuries. Now you have to come up with the funds for surgery.
How can you pay those bills?
1. Contact Your Health Insurance Company.
If you carry health insurance, it may provide vital coverage that will assist in paying for your surgeries and other medical costs. Contact your health insurance company as soon as possible after your accident to confirm the scope of your coverage. Your health insurance company will likely want to know more about the accident, including an explanation of who caused the accident, to determine legal liability for your injuries.
When you speak with your health insurance company, ask what the company will cover when it comes to your medical expenses. You may have copays and deductibles to consider. Your insurance company may also limit what it pays for optional surgical procedures, such as plastic surgery to repair scars and disfigurement.
By calling your insurance company directly, you can streamline claim approval and get a better idea of exactly what your insurance company will cover. That call can also help prepare you for what bills you can expect to come directly to you after your accident.
2. Get in Touch with a Car Accident Lawyer.
If you get into an auto accident that requires you to undergo surgery, contact a car crash lawyer to enquire about your rights. Take legal action to get compensation for your injuries, including your medical expenses. Every car accident has its own unique features, of course, but a car accident attorney will usually want to find out:
Who caused your accident? To establish who may have legal liability to you for your injuries, your car accident attorney will often start by identifying all parties whose bad decisions or careless actions contributed to your accident. This might include:
- The driver who caused your accident. The driver likely carries an auto insurance policy that provides coverage for vehicle damage and bodily injury caused in an accident. If that driver carries only the minimum auto insurance according to state requirements, however, it can substantially limit the compensation you can receive for your injuries. Many states require bodily injury coverage as low as $10,000 to $15,000 per individual harmed in an accident. Of course, if the driver has other substantial assets, you may have the right to receive payment from those as well.
- The company the driver works for. In commercial vehicle accidents, the driver’s employer can share liability with the driver for an accident that happened on the clock. Not only do commercial drivers usually carry policies with higher limits for bodily injury coverage, employers often carry separate insurance policies that can help provide an accident victim with additional coverage and protection. A skilled car accident attorney can evaluate the driver’s employer and determine whether the employer shares liability for the crash.
- The manufacturer of the vehicle. Vehicle manufacturers possess a heavy duty of care when it comes to protecting the drivers who buy their vehicles and others who share the road with them. Manufacturers who sell defective products or faulty parts can cause serious harm and should be held accountable. They can face legal liability to accident victims if their mechanical failure leads to a crash.
- A mechanic who recently worked on the vehicle. Mechanics also owe their customers a duty of care. Of course, no one expects a mechanic to be a miracle worker or to spot every conceivable problem with a car. However, if a mechanic does work on a vehicle that makes it unreasonably dangerous to drive, then that mechanic may face liability for any accident that follows.
- Government agencies. Yes, in some cases, you really can sue the government for a car accident. Local governments have duties to design, build, and maintain roads that are safe for travel. A government may face liability for allowing traffic on a road that is so dangerous that it would inevitably lead to an accident.
- Others. Every car accident has its own unique facts and circumstances. Experienced car accident injury attorneys know to look at a crash carefully to spot anyone who may have legal liability for it. The more of those parties an attorney can find, as a general rule, the better a client’s chances of recovering maximum compensation.
How much compensation do you deserve? Once a car accident attorney identifies the party or parties that caused a client’s car accident, the next step is often to figure out how much money the client deserves for the injuries the crash caused. Because all accidents are different, this number can vary considerably from crash-to-crash.
Here’s the good news: In virtually all car accident cases, the law allows crash victims to be compensated for the cost of surgery and other medical care to treat injuries suffered in the accident. Plus, victims may also have the right to receive compensation for the wages they lost because an injury kept them out of work temporarily or permanently. Finally, by taking legal action a crash victim might also receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-monetary harm the accident inflicted.
A skilled car crash lawyer works to develop a clear, iron-clad case for the maximum damages a client might recover. Then, the auto accident lawyer can get to work on planning and executing a legal strategy to get that money for the client. This will involve thorough litigation, negotiation, or a combination of the two.
3. Keep the Hospital Informed.
It can take time to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries through a legal process. In the meantime, keep the hospital and your medical providers informed about your claims. Often, those providers will work with you to manage your medical bills while the legal process plays out.
If you have serious surgical bills after an accident, then you need a serious lawyer—one who will fight hard to get you the compensation you need to pay for your injuries. CONTACT an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident to learn more about securing the compensation you deserve.