Not all car accident injury victims get into accidents while they have perfect health or without some sort of pre-existing medical condition.
If you already had an injury or condition prior to the accident, the process could become more complicated because it must be proven that you have had an aggravation of your prior injury or a new one.
Read on to find out how a pre-existing injury or medical condition can affect your personal injury claim.
The General Rule of Thumb for Pre-existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions can affect your claim and settlement amount, but it depends on the unique circumstances of your accident and your condition. I always advise my clients not to make assumptions before letting me assess all of the factors of the accident and their pre-existing condition, along with exactly how their condition was affected by the accident.
Generally speaking, however, a pre-existing condition doesn’t automatically prevent you from seeking compensation. If you had a broken neck while a careless driver hit you, that doesn’t let them off the hook by denying liability because you were “already injured.”
That said, it is crucial to establish, with clarity, the status of your health before the crash. This will show how the accident made your injury or symptoms worse and the coinciding damages you should be able to seek. Doing so is not always easy, as insurance companies like to take advantage of cases where the injury victim has a pre-existing condition.
It’s not unusual to see insurance companies act quickly with a denial or a diminished settlement offer whenever there’s a pre-existing condition involved, no matter how legitimate your claim is.
Another thing to consider is that you can only recover compensation for any injuries and damages that were a direct result of the actual accident at hand. You can’t try to get more compensation to help cover medical expenses from your pre-existing condition that were unrelated to the accident.
While you can’t recover compensation for the pre-existing condition, you can recover for any additional injury or exacerbation of that injury that was caused by the accident. But, you can recover as much compensation that will fairly compensate you for the degree to which the accident made your injuries worse, including any mental, emotional, or psychological conditions you experienced from the worsening of your condition. Many people experience anxiety or depression after they get into a car accident that worsens their injuries or a pre-existing condition.
Why It’s So Important to Clearly Establish the Severity of Your Pre-existing Condition Before and After the Accident
Once you file a personal injury claim and disclose that you have a pre-existing condition, the insurance company will surely have questions about your medical history. This is why you need to have a clear record and explicitly establish the severity of your pre-existing condition before the accident. Doing so will help your attorney demonstrate exactly how badly your injury was worsened by the accident.
Why is it so crucial to make a clear demonstration of how your injury was worsened as a direct result of the accident? Because if you don’t, the insurance company will try to say that your injuries are only from a pre-existing condition and that your injuries are unrelated to the accident. However, if you have medical records to show a detailed description of your condition before the accident with medical documentation showing that your condition became worse after the accident, the insurance company can’t try to deflect liability.
Denver’s Eggshell Skull Rule Explained
An important legal concept to understand when dealing with pre-existing conditions and car accident claims is the “eggshell skull” law, which is a rule that basically says to take the injured victim as you find them. It can be applied to any personal injury case but often arises in motor vehicle collision cases.
What the eggshell skull rule says is that you should take the victim as you find them; in other words, the at-fault party is still liable for any injuries they caused the victim, regardless of their state of health before the accident. So, even if you have a pre-existing condition that makes you more fragile or vulnerable to a certain injury in a car accident, the at-fault party should still be held accountable for the damages they caused you.
The most important takeaway from this rule is that no victim should hesitate to contact an attorney if they were injured due to someone else’s negligence, regardless of the state of their health before the accident.
We Often See These Common Pre-existing Conditions Get Aggravated by Car Accidents The Most
Car accidents cause immense damage, not just to property but to people. The human body is not meant to undergo such blunt force or impact of a car collision. When it does, crucial parts like the head, neck, and spine can easily get injured. Now, if your pre-existing condition is one that involves any of those areas, a vehicle collision can very easily make the condition worse.
Here are some of the most common pre-existing injuries we’ve seen our past clients with that have been exacerbated by a car accident:
- Head injuries or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back injuries and back pain
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck pain or neck injuries
While these are the most common pre-existing conditions, a car accident has the potential to worsen almost any injury or condition.
Will My Pre-existing Condition Affect the Amount of Compensation I Can Seek?
If your pre-existing condition has been aggravated by the car accident, there is still a chance to get compensation. But, the negotiations may become complicated with insurance companies.
If you have a chronic condition or a long-term condition, it might be easier to show evidence and obtain medical records reflecting your pre-existing condition. However, if you were recently injured in another accident, like a sports accident, and then shortly after got into a car accident, it might be harder to prove concrete evidence that the injury was, in fact, worsened by the motor vehicle collision.
Accident injuries can surely be harder to prove when you have a pre-existing condition. But don’t get discouraged – no matter what type of pre-existing condition or injury you have, a Denver personal injury attorney can help you gather all the evidence needed to build a strong case.
An attorney may be able to help you recover damage compensation for the following (and maybe more):
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
Tips to Win Your Denver Car Accident Case if You Have a Pre-existing Injury or Medical Condition
Here are a few tips to help you make your case as strong as possible:
- Hire an experienced Denver Car Accident Lawyer. A lawyer can do the legal work that you may not even know you need to do for a successful personal injury claim. They can launch an investigation into the accident, go over your medical records, negotiate with insurance companies, and ultimately win you the maximum financial compensation possible.
- Be very transparent with your attorney from the beginning. Don’t hide any details from your lawyer, no matter how much you think it might hurt your case. This will only end up hurting you if it comes out later you withheld pertinent information from your lawyer and not only jeopardize your case but complicate your attorney’s job. In the worst case, you may even be subject to legal action if the other party finds out you lied or intentionally omitted relevant information about your pre-existing condition.
- Try to gather as many medical records as you can to show your health condition before the accident. Anything you have about your pre-existing condition will be helpful to show proof that the accident did, in fact, worsen your condition.
Contact the Best Denver Personal Injury Lawyers Near You
Don’t back down or get discouraged if you already have an injury or a pre-existing condition before getting further damaged by a negligent driver. You are still entitled to compensation, but you’ll need an experienced lawyer to help fight for you.
The insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible, and sadly, a pre-existing condition is an automatic green flag for them to find excuses to justify doing so. They might meddle through your medical records to find the smallest piece of evidence that your pre-existing condition was already bad enough that there’s no way the car accident worsened or had anything to do with it. But if the car accident made your condition worse, we’ll get you justice.
There’s nothing as frustrating as being on the road to recovery and healing and then having a careless driver hit you and interfere with your recovery or make matters worse for you. If you or a loved one has been injured by an aggressive, careless, reckless, or negligent driver, our Denver personal injury lawyers are here to help you.
We are known for our dedication and commitment to each client and will give you the tailored attention you need and deserve. Our expertise and experience give us a profound understanding and crucial insight into how cases involving pre-existing injuries work and how to get the most out of them.
Call us today for a free initial consultation.