After filing a car accident claim, you will most likely be asked to provide all different types of medical documentation. This is done not only for insurance companies to assess the value of your claim, but to determine which of your injuries were a result of the accident and which were pre-existing conditions.
Often, the other driver's insurance company will try to minimize the amount that they pay you by identifying as many of your injuries to be “pre-existing” as possible. However, this becomes complicated when it is considered that some pre-existing conditions can be made worse by a car accident. In these cases, are you able to recover compensation for your pre-existing condition?
Defining Pre-Existing Conditions
In the context of a car accident or other personal injury claim, a pre-existing condition is defined as any health condition or injury that a person had prior to being involved in an accident. This can be further defined as a number of conditions ranging from chronic illness to an injury sustained prior to the accident.
If you have any pre-existing conditions, it is likely that you will have to disclose this information to the other driver's insurance company in order to recover compensation. However, disclosing this information does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to recover compensation for expenses related to your pre-existing condition; in fact, it can sometimes end up working in your favor.
When Car Accidents Aggravate Pre-Existing Conditions
If it is able to be shown that a car accident aggravated a pre-existing condition and impeded recovery, you may still be able to recover compensation for the resulting medical bills, pain and suffering and other related damages.
While the at-fault driver's insurance does not have to pay you for treatment you would have had to undergo had the accident not occurred, they must reimburse any treatment you would not have needed otherwise as a result of the car accident.
For example, if you are taking prescription pain medication for a bad back and an accident aggravated the condition to the point of needing physical therapy, you may be able to recover damages for the cost of physical therapy from the other driver's insurance company.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Legal Theory
In some instances, a person's pre-existing condition may make them more susceptible to injury in an accident. However, that doesn't mean the victim is less entitled to compensation. In the “eggshell plaintiff” legal theory, defendants must take plaintiffs as-is, and they cannot use the plaintiff's prior conditions during injury attribution. If a victim chooses to go to trial, California's laws require juries to consider the injured person as the at-fault party found them.
It is vital for you to explain your conditions before and after an accident to their medical and legal teams, to be correctly treated and accurately compensated for the accident's consequences. Insurers train adjusters to blame everything possible on previous injuries as a way of limiting financial exposure. If you are candid about your pre-accident condition, you are much more likely to get proper treatment and a fair settlement.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Having a pre-existing condition does not mean that you will be unable to recover damages for a car accident claim. By taking proper measures to disclose this information and prove that your pre-existing condition was aggravated by a car accident, you may in fact be able to recover more compensation. This can be challenging to prove in court, however, and in order to do so you will need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you reach a fair settlement.
The Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman has represented thousands of car accident victims for over fifty years, and our commitment to helping our community has helped those with aggravated pre-existing conditions recover compensation for their injuries. For more information or to discuss the details of your claim, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.