Insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid paying out claims to accident victims who have a pre-existing condition. In cases where a pre-existing or degenerative condition has worsened because of an accident, they will argue that they shouldn’t have to pay for an issue that was there all along.
However, the law is on your side. When dealing with insurance companies, it pays to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Examples of Common Pre-Existing Conditions
Some pre-existing conditions are simply a result of the natural aging process. In fact, you may have a pre-existing health condition and not even know it. X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs will sometimes reveal degenerative health conditions for the first time when accident victims are seeking medical treatment for their post-accident pain.
Common examples of pre-existing medical conditions are:
- Degenerative disk disease
- Healed broken bones
- Brain injuries, such as concussions
- Neck injuries, such as whiplash
- Back injuries, including strains
- Soft tissue injuries, such as knee and shoulder injuries
An Inactive vs. Active Pre-Existing Condition
Depending on the recency and severity of your condition, it will fall into one of two categories. The first is an inactive pre-existing condition. This means that it was not causing you pain or disability at the time of the accident. You might not have even known it existed!
If you have never received treatment for the condition, it is sound to argue that your injuries and condition are a result of the accident. If you received treatment for the condition in the past, it is your personal injury lawyer’s responsibility to prove that the accident has aggravated your condition. Maybe the accident has caused you to obtain additional treatment, or you are unable to participate in activities that you enjoyed before the accident.
Pre-existing conditions that are actively being treated are known as active pre-existing conditions. If you are in treatment when the accident occurs, your doctor must determine the degree that your symptoms have worsened as a result of the accident. In order to determine your damages, your physician might be asked to apportion a percentage of your condition to the pre-existing condition and a percentage to the new trauma.
The Eggshell Doctrine
Accident victims with existing conditions are protected under a law known as the eggshell doctrine. The premise of the doctrine is that due to your condition, you are more fragile (like an eggshell) and susceptible to injury than the average person. Thus, you may be protected under the law, even if an average person probably wouldn’t have been hurt in the same accident.
Medical Records are Key
As you work with your personal injury lawyer, it’s important to disclose your medical history honestly and completely. Your records are crucial in proving that your condition was aggravated by the accident, so you can get the maximum settlement possible.
Although your attorney will fight for your privacy, the insurance company may be able to obtain your medical records in a process of discovery. If you have lied about your medical history or if you haven’t told the complete story, your omission could damage your credibility in court and negatively impact your settlement.
Get the Settlement You Deserve
If you had a pre-existing medical condition at the time of an accident, you are entitled to fair compensation for the aggravation of your condition. Worcester personal injury attorney Peter Ventura can help you get the settlement you deserve.
With decades of experience representing clients who have been injured, Attorney Ventura is well-versed in the underhanded tactics insurance companies use to cheat victims out of a fair settlement. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.