Although insurance companies may attempt to argue differently, victims often have a right to pursue compensation against an at-fault party, even if the victim had a pre-existing condition.
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
Pre-existing conditions and injuries are those that are present prior to the accident, such as asthma, degenerative discs, etc. Typically these are conditions or injuries for which the victim has received previous medical treatment or advice.
Did the Accident Make the Existing Condition Worse?
Accidents can impact a pre-existing condition or injury by:
- Aggravating it the point that it requires additional medical treatment or corrective surgery; or
- Escalating the pain in a way that affects the ability to perform daily functions.
It is important to note that this applies to pre-existing conditions that are recent and still receiving treatment, as well as those that have long since healed.
Many victims are hesitant to offer information about a pre-existing condition or injury. However, it is important that you explain how that injury was affected by the accident. To do so, you should:
- Never hide the pre-existing injury: When you receive medical treatment following the accident, it is essential that you inform the medical provider of the condition. You should always be open and honest about the condition so the provider can properly determine how it was affected by the accident, and how to properly provide the necessary treatment. You should also disclose injuries that are seemingly unrelated to those suffered during the accident. Even if they are in different parts of the body, all prior injuries should be disclosed. If you fail to disclose pre-existing conditions, you could potentially lose credibility down the road.
- Provide specific details: Be as specific as you can when describing the new symptoms after the accident, and how they differ from what you experienced prior to the accident. Your new medical records need to show that there is a causal relationship between the accident and the injury.
- Request your health care provider: If possible, try to see the same health care provider whom you had seen prior to the accident. As this provider will be familiar with your pre-existing condition, it may provide you with a significant advantage as the provider can explain how the injury has worsened or been aggravated by the accident. Further, this will provide a greater paper trail, showing how the pre-existing condition was aggravated by the accident.
- Do not sign a medical authorization: Some insurance companies will request that you sign a medical record authorization, granting them access to your medical history. Do not sign any such form without first speaking with an experienced attorney.
Insurance companies will often attempt to use a pre-existing injury to deny your claim or pay you less compensation than what your claim is worth. However, pre-existing conditions should not bar absolute recovery for a victim if the accident aggravated the condition or injury.
There is a precedent referred to as “eggshell plaintiff”, which essentially means that the person responsible for the accident is still responsible regardless of the state they were in when it occurred. Defendants cannot pick whom they harm as the result of an accident.
The eggshell rules means that the defendant should not place the blame on the pre-existing injury. Further, damages should not be mitigated because the victim is more susceptible to injury than the average person.
It is obvious that you cannot receive any compensation for an injury that existed before an accident. However, you may be entitled to compensation if the accident worsened the condition.
Insurance companies must consider a victim’s health and medical condition as-is and cannot deny a claim based on a pre-existing condition. Even if a victim is more susceptible to injury because of the pre-existing condition, the victim is still entitled to compensation if the at-fault party aggravated it.
Contact Yearin Law Office Today!
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident and the insurance company has attempted to partially or fully deny your claim, contact the Yearin Law Office today. We will fight to show that your pre-existing condition was, in fact, affected by the accident. Our dedicated staff will work to determine what compensation you have a right to obtain. Call (480) 502-0708 today for a free consultation!