Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
If you get into an accident as someone with a pre-existing condition or injury, this could complicate your insurance claim. Insurance companies are notorious for making it more difficult for clients with pre-existing conditions to recover fair compensation. You have the right to obtain fair damages, however, even with existing medical problems. Protect these rights with help from a personal injury attorney.
Pre-Existing Conditions Commonly Exacerbated By Accidents
It is common for personal injury claimants to have pre-existing health conditions or old injuries from previous accidents. Pre-existing conditions can impact new injury claims if the accident in question exacerbated the condition or vice versa. If a condition you already had made you suffer a more severe injury than you otherwise would have in a car crash, for example, this could affect your injury claim. Several common pre-existing conditions could impact your claim.
- Herniated or slipped disk
- Degenerative disk disease
- Other back or neck injuries
- Muscle sprains or strains
- Brain injuries, such as concussions
- Healed bone fractures
- Blood pressure problems
- Chronic illness
If you had any of these pre-existing conditions or injuries at the time of your accident, be especially vigilant during the insurance process. The odds are good that the insurance company handling your claim will try to diminish its value because of your old injury. Make sure the insurance company is offering a fair amount for your claim before you say yes. Otherwise, you could settle for less than you deserve.
The Eggshell Skull Rule and Your Personal Injury Claim
Pre-existing conditions in personal injury law evoke the Eggshell Skull Rule. In simple terms, this legal theory states that an at-fault person or party cannot avoid liability using the excuse that the victim’s pre-existing medical condition made him or her suffer a more serious injury than another person would have suffered. In other words, even if your pre-existing condition exacerbated your injuries from a new accident, you will still be eligible to recover compensation for the full value of your losses.
The name of the rule comes from a common example used in law school, of a man with an eggshell-thin skull. If you caused a car accident with a man who happened to have a condition where his skull was as thin as an eggshell, for example, and the man suffered a catastrophic brain injury, you would be liable for the full value of the brain injury – even if another person would have only had a minor bump. This rule holds that defendants must take plaintiffs as they are at the time of an accident, even if that’s a more vulnerable state due to a pre-existing condition.
How to Handle a Pre-Existing Condition During a Claim
If you had a pre-existing condition before your new accident, you will be eligible for the full value of your claim. It is against the law for an insurance company to diminish the value of your claim or deny benefits based on a pre-existing condition alone. During your claim, be careful not to sign a broad medical release form from the insurance company. This is a tactic often used to access your full medical records and search for pre-existing conditions. Avoid signing to remain in control of which medical records the insurance company sees and which it does not.
When you visit a doctor, explain that the accident aggravated an injury or condition you already had. It is important to share this information with your doctor and personal injury lawyer so that it goes on the record. This can serve as evidence later, when the insurance company investigates the connection between your new and pre-existing injury. If you need help demanding fair compensation for damages related to a pre-existing condition, contact an attorney in Virginia for assistance.