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If you have been in an auto accident which resulted in an injury and have experienced pain relief with nerve block injections, your doctor may recommend radio-frequency ablation.

What is Radio-Frequency Ablation?

Radio-frequency ablation is a procedure that is used to relieve low back and neck pain. In the procedure, an electrical current is produced by a radio wave and is used to ablate or “burn” the nerve that is causing the pain. When the nerve is ablated the nerve is no longer able to transmit pain signals to the brains, giving the patient lasting pain relief. The procedure is minimally invasive and there is little to no recovery time, thus decreasing the need for pain medications and decreasing the time needed to return to work and other activities.

Do You Need an Attorney?

In our experience, we have found that radio-frequency ablation cases are challenging cases and will require legal representation. The challenge comes to whether your condition was caused by the accident alone or an underlying degenerative condition.

The difficulty arises because radio-frequency ablations are used to relieve pain, they stop the nerve from transmitting pain signals to the brain, but they do not solve the problem. This points to the fact that the condition being treated may be an underlying degenerative condition that has been aggravated in the car accident. The fight with the insurance company occurs with the argument of whether the treatment would have been needed, regardless of the accident.

Adjusters love to stick to the degenerative conditions argument for the cause of your injuries and resulting treatments, even if you have never been seen before by a medical professional about this condition. In our experience, a radio-frequency ablation case will almost always require representation for this reason. The reason adjusters fight so hard is because if you prove that the injections are related to the car accident, the insurance company is responsible for paying for any lost wages; your past and future medical bills; suffering, pain, and inconvenience.

Evaluating Your Claim

Your honesty is necessary when talking with your auto accident attorney about any prior medical history or treatments. This can have an impact on the value of your case. The truth is, a radio-frequency ablation case with a client that has never been seen by a doctor for related problems will have a higher case value than a client who has been constantly seen by doctors for these problems.

Another reason that radio-frequency ablation cases become hard to evaluate: the procedure is used to block the pain sending signals to the brain and allow the patient to be pain-free, but it does not cure the problem. Because of this, it is important that you obtain in writing from your treating doctor:

  1. A medical opinion that your current medical condition is a result of your auto accident
  2. The prognosis is your condition is likely to be permanent
  3. An estimation of future cost that includes: costs of injections, physical therapy, and other medical costs

There is no standard way to calculate a settlement for auto accident cases.  If you’ve been in an automobile accident and received radio-frequency ablation for your pain, you might be in the process of deciding whether or not you will need to hire a lawyer. In our opinion, you will need to hire a lawyer to settle your case. The work needed to obtain the proper narrative from your doctor and traverse the legal side with no legal experience is unneeded stress that you do not need in your life. These cases are complicated from both a medical and legal perspective, hire an attorney and get the money you deserve from the insurance company.


Brian Glass
Virginia personal injury lawyer selected to SuperLawyers Rising Stars List and the NTLA's Top 40 Under 40.