A recent column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch caught my eye because it underscores the importance of having an experienced Missouri auto accident lawyer involved in your injury case. Columnist Bill McClellan wrote Feb. 21 about Jen Dotson of Oakville, who ran into serious financial trouble after her health insurer refused to cover the cost of an operation intended to alleviate debilitating pain. Dotson was injured in a 2004 car accident that was not her fault. She had sued the at-fault driver, but her settlement was reached before she realized she needed the operation.
The column says Dotson was driving straight through an intersection when someone pulled out and hit her. The other driver’s insurance company paid for repairs to her car, but she was also left with chronic, severe pain from a condition called thoracic outlet syndrome, which is caused by compression of the passageway between the collarbone and the first rib. The pain was so bad that she had to quit her job as a travel agent and go to work in the family business. Dotson sued and eventually settled for enough money to cover her portion of her medical bills.
Unfortunately, the pain continued after Dotson’s settlement. She had two more surgeries — one to remove a rib, and another for a nerve. Her husband’s employer-based health insurance covered both, but her pain didn’t stop and she was forced to take heavy pain medications. Finally, her doctor referred her to a neurosurgeon who recommended a surgery to implant a spinal cord stimulator. The surgery was a success, but her health insurer refuses to cover the cost — leaving Dotson and her husband owing $72,900. They cannot pay this debt and are now afraid they’ll lose their home.
The column is about the health insurer’s refusal to pay, despite the surgeon’s claim that he called to pre-authorize it. This is an important and politically relevant issue, but as a St. Louis car crash attorney, I’d like to talk about Dotson’s original settlement. Most people don’t realize that you only get one opportunity to sue over an accident. Once you accept a settlement, you generally must sign a waiver of all future claims. That means it’s essential to include all claims of financial damage in your lawsuit, including claims for future medical care. Dotson and her injury attorney undoubtedly claimed everything they thought she needed at the time, but as time went on, it was clear that her medical needs weren’t over. In cases like this, I advise my clients to delay a lawsuit, as hard as that can be, until a doctor believes their symptoms are fully manifested can make a treatment plan.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents people who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own in motor vehicle accidents. With offices in St. Louis and Belleville, we serve all of Missouri as well as southern Illinois. Unfortunately, Dotson’s story is not unusual for car accident victims. Many of our clients with serious injuries find that they suffer severe financial strain as well, thanks to the high price of medical care and lost time at work. Our southern Illinois car wreck attorneys help victims lay these costs at the feet of the people who caused them — the irresponsible at-fault drivers, and their insurance companies. We also help clients claim compensation for their pain, suffering and any disability or wrongful death.
If you suffered serious physical, financial and emotional injuries because of someone else’s bad decisions behind the wheel, you should contact Carey, Danis & Lowe right away. To set up a free, confidential case evaluation, you can call 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message through our site.