By: Whalen Hersh
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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
Reports from the WHO indicate that about 1.3 million people die due to road accidents annually. Between 20 and 50 million more individuals sustain non-fatal injuries, with some incurring permanent disability. Not surprisingly, many people injured in car accidents have pre-existing injuries or conditions. And also not surprisingly, insurance companies like to rely on pre-existing conditions or injuries to reduce payment to injured people seeking compensation arising from motor vehicle accidents.
While it is possible that a pre-existing injury can preclude a person from receiving compensation in a personal injury claim, that is not necessarily the case. When you’ve been injured by the negligence of someone else, you may still be able to file a personal injury claim and obtain compensation against the at-fault party, even if you have an underlying medical condition or injury. In fact, you may be able to receive significant compensation for the aggravation of an underlying conditions or injuries. That is why it is important to talk to a personal injury lawyer to talk about your case, your injuries, and your rights.
Read on to learn valuable tips on how a personal injury lawyer can help you get fair compensation after an accident exacerbates a pre-existing injury.
Why It’s Crucial to Disclose Pre-Existing Conditions with Your Attorney
It is essential to discuss with your lawyer the conditions or injuries you had at the time of the accident. Trying to hide pre-existing conditions or injuries won’t help your case and can reduce your odds of getting a fair settlement. Particularly, if a new injury affects the same area of the body as an old condition, the entire claim can be compromised by non-disclosure.
Insurers often train claim adjusters to blame everything on previous injuries since they’re looking to pay you as little as possible. In fact, they will try to use your pre-existing injuries history to disqualify your claims regarding the accident. As such, it’s best to hire a qualified personal injury lawyer to assess your complete medical history and represent you professionally.
When you have a preexisting condition or past injury, your personal injury lawyer can help you understand how the current car accident may—or may not—be affected by that prior condition or injury. Remember that when the other party’s attorney or insurance company discovers that you had a prior injury or complaint that you never disclosed, your medical history and credibility can be severely questioned. This is why it is critical to tell your lawyer early about any prior conditions or injuries.
When a person has a pre-existing condition or injury, that condition or injury may be aggravated, or made worse, by a subsequent car accident. While an at-fault defendant who caused a car accident might not be responsible for a plaintiff’s original condition or injury, that defendant should be held responsible for aggravating that condition or injury. This will typically require some kind of apportionment between the pre-exiting condition/injury and the current claimed injury. An experienced personal injury attorney, with input from treating doctors and experts, can help determine if there is aggravation and how it will impact recovery in a personal injury lawsuit.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
The eggshell skull rule, also known as the eggshell plaintiff legal theory, requires that defendants “take plaintiffs as they are.” Meaning, defendants are responsible to pay for damages that arise from their wrongful actions regardless of whether the pre-existing condition contributed to the severity of the injury or not. If a prior condition or injury makes you more susceptible to injury or causes you to sustain more injury than a person who does not have those prior conditions or injuries, a defendant nevertheless must typically pay for those injuries.
That explains why it’s essential to provide details of your previous medical conditions after an accident to your medical and legal teams. Doing so can ensure proper treatment as well as accurate compensation.
A pre-existing condition can affect your ability to receive adequate compensation to cover all your medical expenses. This is possible because the at-fault party might argue that you’re taking advantage of the incident to get someone else to pay the costs of treating your pre-existing condition. This can be used as an excuse to lower your compensation amount. To reduce such issues, you should work with a credible legal professional like Whalen Hersh LLP to guide you through the claim process and help you try to recover all compensation to which you are entitled.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the case by demonstrating how the injuries from the accident affected your pre-existing medical issues and vice-versa. Furthermore, building a solid relationship, based on full and accurate information, with your attorney helps make the whole process easier, making it harder for the other party’s insurer to deny or delay a claim or trivialize your injuries.
Need a Reputable Personal Injury Attorney in Colorado? Contact Whalen Hersh Today
If you or a loved one has sustained a personal injury when you already have a previous medical issue, Whalen Hersh is here to help with professional legal advice and advocacy. We will use our vast experience and legal expertise to fight on your behalf and ensure your case reaches the desired resolution. Please contact us online today or call us directly at (720) 307-2666 to schedule a free consultation.