You have an injury claim, but the one thing holding you back is your pre-existing injury. You worry that it will exclude you from seeking compensation. While a pre-existing condition does impact your claim, it is not in the negative way you think.
Instead, pre-existing conditions and injuries change the way you seek compensation and the claims you make. However, having a pre-existing injury does not bar you from seeking compensation. If you were injured by someone’s negligence, regardless of that pre-existing condition, speak with an injury attorney before assuming you cannot receive compensation for your new injuries.
Why Pre-Existing Conditions, and Disclosing Them, Matters in a Personal Injury Case
While you are not excluded from seeking compensation, your pre-existing injury does matter. Why?
When you file an injury claim, you are saying that the at-fault party is responsible financially for your injuries; therefore, they are required to make you financially whole (or to the financial state you were before your new injury).
The at-fault party will repair or replace damages, cover medical costs (including future costs), compensate for lost wages, and even compensate if you are unable to return to work. Financial payments are also considered for pain and suffering along with any changes in your quality of life (or life expectancy for that matter). As you can see, the defendant is obligated to cover quite a bit financially.
Insurance companies and defense teams will argue whether the accident was the cause of your injuries, and when you have pre-existing injuries, they will often try to say that the injury was already present and not caused by the accident – therefore, arguing that they are not financially responsible for your suffering.
For example, you already had a broken leg. However, you were the passenger in a motor vehicle accident. While you have other injuries, the at-fault party does not have to pay for your broken leg because their accident did not cause it to break.
The Bad Side of Pre-Existing Conditions: When a Pre-Existing Injury Will Impact Your Case
As stated above, there are instances where your pre-existing injury or condition could affect your compensation. First of all, you cannot seek compensation for the injuries you already had prior to the accident. It is not the defendant’s responsibility to pay for injuries outside of the accident they caused.
Also, certain health conditions may make a person more apt to suffer an injury. For example, you may have a condition that makes your bones more brittle than a healthy adult; therefore, you suffered more serious injuries as a result.
The Good Side of Pre-Existing Conditions: When a Pre-Existing Situation Does Not Impact Your Case
Say you do have a broken leg. While you cannot receive compensation for that broken leg, you can for all other injuries sustained in the accident. Furthermore, if the accident exacerbates the injury, you can still seek compensation. For example, you had your broken leg in a cast. However, the motor vehicle accident caused severe damage to an already healing leg. As a result, you now need surgery to help repair the break. While the initial break was not caused by the defendant, the damage afterward was. Therefore, you could still hold them liable for prolonging the injury and making the injury worse – including all financial costs that come with it.
The same goes for injuries that have healed. You may have had spinal surgery years ago, and it had healed. However, the accident irritated that injury, causing further pain
Disclose Any Conditions or Injuries Immediately
While you might be tempted to hide pre-existing conditions that make you prone to injury or injuries you have had in the past, now is the time to be 100% transparent. The worst thing you can do is have the appearance of hiding the truth. You want the judge, jury, and even the insurance’s defense team all to think you are trustworthy.
Likewise, the first thing an insurance company will do is search through your medical records – and they have the right to do so. They will look for pre-existing injuries and conditions, which they will then use as a way to decrease their compensation offering or to try and dismiss the case entirely.
That is why, before the claim’s adjuster finds it out, you should tell your attorney about these pre-existing issues and make sure they are prepared.
Again, having a pre-existing situation does not disqualify you for compensation, but hiding it will impact you greatly. Once you have lost your accountability, the judge and jury may not be inclined to award you full compensation. In some cases, the jury may feel that you are untrustworthy and find in favor of the defendant altogether – leaving you with no compensation.
Your Medical Records Will Help You – Even If You Disclose Pre-Existing Issues
Your medical records show your health and physical status prior to the accident. Therefore, they can show you were healthy enough to work, and now after an accident, you cannot. Your attorney can have medical witnesses testify to your health before the accident, and then testify to how the accident impacted your overall health, quality of life, etc., after.
Call an Experienced Injury Attorney Today
For the greatest chance at getting maximum compensation, you need an injury attorney who will advocate for your rights and aggressively seek the compensation you deserve – despite any pre-existing conditions or injuries.
An attorney will review the facts of your case, including the new injuries caused by your accident, and determine how any pre-existing conditions or illnesses may impact your ability to seek compensation. Regardless, you do have the right to hold a person responsible for negligent behavior – do not let a pre-existing injury hold you back.
Attorney Seth Gladstein from the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC can help. He has helped clients just like you overcome pre-existing conditions and illness issues in their case and get the compensation they need to cover medical costs, lost wages, and more.
Call today to schedule a free case evaluation or contact us online with your questions.