If you are transported by ambulance to the hospital following an accident, it increases the full value of your personal injury claim.
But don’t take my word for it.
Just look at my biggest personal injury settlements. In the 7 out of my top 10 settlements, the injured person took an ambulance to the hospital. In one case, I got a $300,000 settlement for a broken leg from a car accident. My client took an ambulance to the hospital. That is one of my many settlements for people who were hurt in Florida while visiting from another state.
However, I’ve also had some great results even though the injured person did not take an ambulance to the hospital.
So how much does taking an ambulance affect the settlement?
The effect of taking (or not taking) an ambulance to the hospital depends on several factors.
We’re about to take a look at them. But first, I want you to know an important piece of information.
In the United States, you have the right to receive care from the hospital even if you cannot afford it. A federal law known as EMTALA (the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act) gives everyone the right to be treated for an emergency medical condition, regardless of their ability to pay.
This law helps protect patients who are uninsured as well as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance. Having a right to emergency care does not mean the care is free. The hospitals’ policies for billing, payment, and eligibility or financial assistance still apply.
Ok. Let’s take a look the effect (on an injury case) of taking an ambulance to the hospital.
Ambulance May Matter Less if Injured Person’s Car Was Badly Damaged
If you are involved in a car accident and your vehicle was badly damaged, not taking an ambulance to the hospital may have a less negative effect on your case value. However, for this to be true you need to get medical treatment shortly after the crash.
This is because property damage to the vehicles involved in the crash may be an important factor is getting paid for the full value of your claim.
The theory goes as follows. The greater the damage to the cars involved in the accident, the greater the likelihood that the persons involved in the crash were really injured.
Moreover, if your airbags deploy while in an accident and decide not to take an ambulance should not hurt case as much as if they didn’t deploy. So taking pictures of the vehicles involved in a car accident is very important. You should know the 2 biggest reasons to take pictures after an accident.
Do not assume that you do not have a good personal injury case just because the damage to your car is small. A big factor in any personal injury claim is your honesty.
Juries like people who are honest, and they like to punish dishonest people. So all other things being equal, someone who is honest may get a better result in his or her personal injury case than an injured person that is dishonest.
However, if you were involved in an accident with huge property damage to the vehicle(s), but you do not take an ambulance to the hospital and you wait to see a doctor for a long time after the incident then it may reduce the amount of a settlement.
If Injured Person Quickly Gets Medical Care, Ambulance May Matter Less
If you get treatment at a hospital, urgent care or doctor soon after an accident, then not taking an ambulance to the hospital has less of any effect. That said, insurance adjusters will offer you less money to settle your injury case, if you don’t take an ambulance to the hospital.
For example, I settled a case for $260,000 for an Uber driver who was injured in a car accident. He did not take an ambulance to the hospital. However, he went to the hospital hours after the accident. While he was in the hospital, I took a photo of him. Here it is:
Photos can help show how badly someone is hurt.
However, if this Uber driver would have taken an ambulance to the hospital, the settlement would have likely been bigger.
With Progressive now insuring Uber in Florida, taking an ambulance is all the more important. Again, only take ambulance if you truly have the need. This is because Progressive is one of the cheapest insurance companies for car accident claims. After settling many car accident cases with Progressive, I know this.
I’ve written several articles on Uber accident settlements.
You should always get medical treatment as soon as you feel that you need it following an accident.
Whether fire rescue or an ambulance arrived at accident scene
If fire rescue came to the accident scene, then not taking an ambulance to the hospital has less effect on an injury claim.
An orthopedic doctor may argue that if you are claiming that your herniated discs or shoulder tear was caused by the accident, then you would have had immediate intense pain that would have resulted in someone calling fire rescue.
I did settle a shoulder (torn labrum) surgery case for $210,000 for a man who waited 5 days to go a doctor after his truck accident. The settlement was before deduction for attorney’s fees, expenses and medical bills.
Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result. Fire rescue was not called to the scene.
The crash report, although inadmissible, stated that my client did not complain of pain. It did help that the police were called and arrived at the scene. The fact that the front of the at fault driver’s truck was damaged. The rear bumper of the truck that my client was driving had metal that was bent.
The dispatcher, Customized Trucking, of the at fault vehicle was insured with Travelers Insurance. You should request the 911 call audio and/or written transcript. If an ambulance arrived after your accident, you can – more often than not – assume that a 911 call exists.
Whether there were witnesses to your accident
The more witnesses who can testify that you were involved in an accident, the better. If a witness says that there was an impact, this is good for your case. The more witnesses that you have, the less it will affect your claim if you did not take an ambulance to the hospital.
You still have a personal injury claim if you didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital. Taking an ambulance to the hospital from the incident scene does show that you were more seriously injured than if you were not transported.
But just because someone who was injured in an accident didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital does not mean that they do not have an injury case.
For example, I reached a settlement for $210,000 in a case where my client injured his wrist but did not take an ambulance to the hospital. The settlement was paid by Travelers Insurance Company. Fire rescue did arrive at the scene. You can read about this and some other personal injury settlements that I have had.
Ambulance Bill Increases Full Settlement Value
If you took the ambulance to the hospital, you will receive a medical bill for this transportation. The only exception to this is if you’re injured at Disney World in Orlando. Disney properties use the Reedy Creek Emergency Services to transport people to the hospital.
The good news?
Let’s talk about everywhere other than Disney World in Florida.
Medical bills may be a big factor affecting the amount of money that you may get in your personal injury case. The higher the medical bills, the higher the full settlement value.
Therefore, an ambulance bill may increase the amount of money that you may get in your case.
You should know how to get your medical bills, including your ambulance bill, paid after a car accident in Florida.
Accident victims should provide medical bills & records to the liability insurance company, including your ambulance bill. Do not wait until you have entered settlement negotiations – with the liability insurance company – to request your ambulance bill or any other bills.
The best practice is too continuously send the liability insurer every medical bill and record that you receive as soon as you receive it.
Keep mind that whether you took an ambulance to the hospital is just one of the more than 87 factors that may affect settlement value of an injury case.
If There is Limited BIL Insurance (No Ambulance May Not Lower Payout)
If there is limited bodily injury (BI) liability insurance, than not taking an ambulance may or may not lower your claim’s value. Let me show you why.
I’ll use a real case of mine. A drunk driver hit another driver in South Florida. My client was the victim.
The injured victim didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital, but he got treatment a few days later.
GEICO insured the DUI driver with $100,000 in BI insurance. I settled the case with GEICO for $95,000. It’s possible that they didn’t pay the $100,000 limits because my client didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital.
Since GEICO paid $95,000, this means that GEICO assigned at least a $95,000 value to the case.
If GEICO’s insured would’ve only had a $10,000 BI policy, GEICO would have quickly paid the $10,000. In that instance, the fact that my client didn’t take an ambulance to the hospital would not have lowered the settlement amount.
You are more likely to run into limited BI insurance in a car accident in Florida. This is because most cars in Florida aren’t required to carry BI liability insurance.
Driver Who Takes Ambulance to the Hospital Gets $100,000 Settlement
See a $100,000 settlement for a lady hit by a car in North Miami Beach. She said the crash worsened her pre-existing bulging discs and herniated discs.
Months after the accident, she still had back pain. A neurosurgeon recommended lower back surgery.
Because it increases the pain and suffering value for settlement purposes. It also increases the total medical billed charges.
This example involved GEICO. But the same is true with other insurance companies.
Look at my injury settlements with State Farm. Check out my accident settlements with USAA. Whether it’s a motorcycle accident, or pedestrian hit by a car, taking an ambulance to the hospital often led to a bigger settlement.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated.