Medical Prognosis in Massachusetts Accident CaseChances are if you’ve been seriously injured in an accident in Massachusetts, such as a car crash, that was caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or wrongdoing, you may have heard the term prognosis. It’s probably well known, but some may not fully understand why it is important in a Massachusetts personal injury claim.

Being fairly and justly compensated for serious injuries suffered in accidents involve expert and qualified legal representation. Our Framingham accident lawyers have vast experience representing accident victims in Massachusetts. As part of determining the appropriate value of damages in an injury case, knowing the medical prognosis is vital.

Overview of a Medical Prognosis in an Injury Case

Medically, a prognosis is defined as the prospect of recovery from an injury or the forecast or probable course of an outcome of a medical condition. In other words, a prognosis is a doctor’s educated supposition or prediction about the future of an accident victim’s injury and how they may recover from it, if at all. While it may sound like the doctors are guessing, in the world of personal injury, doctors provide their opinion based upon a reasonable degree of medical certainty.

The prognosis for an individual’s recovery is dependent upon a number of factors and indicators present in the patient’s medical history, their age, sex, present physical and mental condition and available treatments. 

So, for example, a doctor may state that the prognosis for a spine surgery candidate may be considered “good”.  In other words, given the age and physical condition of the accident victim along with the advances in surgical techniques with spine surgery available today, the doctor is making an educated guess that should the patient elect to have the spine surgery, there is a strong likelihood that he or she will make a good recovery.

In contrast, if the prognosis for recovery from surgery or treatment is poor, then the treating physician or surgeon is predicting that the accident victim’s likelihood of recovery is not good and that he or she may never recover fully from the injuries.

The Medical Prognosis is Critical in Determining the Value of an Accident Case

A medical prognosis is vital to sufficiently represent the interests of an accident victim in a Massachusetts personal injury case. Thus, it is very important to have a full understanding of an accident client’s injuries, treatment, and medical prognosis before either settling or trying their accident case.

Since the prognosis explains the probable course of an outcome of a medical condition or injury, you must know the prognosis to have a full sense of an accident victim’s injury, pain, and suffering. This will have a significant impact on the extent of an accident victim’s damages in a personal injury case.

In Massachusetts, damages are recoverable for both past and future medical expenses. Because the cost and expense of future medical treatment is recoverable as part of a personal injury case, you must know what future medical treatment may be necessary and how much it will cost. A medical prognosis is a crucial element in determining appropriate and necessary future treatment for an accident victim to recover from his or her injuries. Therefore, as part of the compensation sought in an accident case, an accident victim or their Massachusetts injury attorney will want to pursue, not only the past medical costs and expenses, but also the future medical costs and expenses for any reasonably anticipated medical treatment. Thus, having a medical prognosis is very important to assuring an accident victim is being fully and justly compensated.

For example, a 43-year-old Framingham resident was injured in a car accident in Natick, MA. The accident caused a severe laceration to his face that required sutures to close along with a cervical spine injury. The laceration resulted in a significant facial scar that did not fade or reduce over at least a year post accident. At the conclusion of his treatment, our office ordered a medical narrative from an experienced and qualified plastic surgeon. As part of the medical narrative, the surgeon provided a prognosis for the healing of the scar and recommended a scar revision procedure, which included release of the scar and reconstruction. The surgeon also provided a proposed cost for such a procedure, including the cost for not only her surgical procedure fee, but also for anesthesia and the facility fee. This was critical to assessing the value of the scar and in securing the full bodily injury limits of the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.

Similarly, another of our clients was seriously hurt in a rear-end collision in Marlborough, MA. In the accident he suffered a severely herniated disc in his cervical spine (neck). He required an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) due to his injury and symptoms. After reaching a maximum medical improvement (MMI) following a lengthy treatment regimen, our office obtained a medical narrative from the treating surgeon in preparation of an agreed upon mediation. The medical narrative detailed our client’s injuries, surgical procedure, treatment, and his prognosis. The surgeon’s opinion made to a reasonable degree of medical certainty was that this client’s prognosis was poor and will likely require a further surgical procedure to his cervical spine. At the mediation, the medical narrative and prognosis was very important in obtaining a significant settlement for this client to compensate him for his permanent injury to his cervical spine.

The examples above make clear that anyone seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident should consider having a qualified and experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney on their side. The Framingham injury lawyers at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience representing the interests of accident victims and their families. We work with many medial professionals to obtain a detailed and thorough understanding of our client’s injuries, including their prognosis, so we can pursue the maximum amount of compensation for our clients.  

Joseph M. Mahaney
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Injury lawyer serving car, truck, and motorcycle accident victims in Webster and Framingham, Massachusetts.