A pre-existing condition should not affect your personal injury claim. If you have a pre-existing condition that worsens or requires new treatment because of a personal injury accident, you should be able to recover compensation for these costs. The liable party in a personal injury case is responsible for all costs and losses incurred because of the incident. This includes any new injuries or exacerbation of old ones.
However, insurance companies do not always make it easy to recover this money. For this reason, many victims consider working with a personal injury lawyer on their claims. Attorneys who handle personal injury claims regularly know the tricks and tactics insurance carriers use to minimize and deny these claims and how to fight for fair compensation.
Why do Pre-Existing Conditions Matter After an Injury?
While you cannot recover compensation for an injury that existed before an accident, incidents often make previous injuries or conditions worse. If you experience new symptoms from old injuries, you should be able to seek money to cover the costs of this treatment.
For example, imagine you previously suffered a bulging disc in your lower back. A crash could aggravate this injury and require treatment such as surgical repair, physical therapy, or prescription medications.
The legal doctrine that supports this is known as the eggshell skull rule or thin skull rule. This doctrine states that victims can generally recover their actual damages in these cases, despite their injuries being more serious than someone who did not have the pre-existing condition or diagnosis. Working with an attorney will help you prove your damages in these cases.
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How Insurance Companies Might Approach a Pre-Existing Condition Case
Insurance adjusters work with their companies, not for policyholders or victims. Their priority is typically to settle a case by paying out as little of their company’s money as possible. When possible, they will use any case fact—and sometimes bad faith tactics—to reduce the possible value of a claim. As you can imagine, a pre-existing condition gives them plenty of ammunition to try to fight paying a fair sum.
Regardless of the legal doctrines and the victim’s rights, insurance companies may try to reduce the amount of compensation paid to an accident victim. This is especially true when their injuries are more serious than they might normally be because of a pre-existing condition.
The insurance adjuster might try to deny your claim entirely or offer a lowball settlement while blaming your previous medical condition. If this happens in your case, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand how to move forward. Working with a lawyer and/or suing the liable party might be beneficial in your case.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney to Handle Your Personal Injury Claim
Insurance companies know that personal injury attorneys mean business. They might try to lowball a victim or use tactics to reduce the payout, such as telling them they cannot recover compensation for treatment related to a pre-existing condition. When an attorney handles the case, the insurance adjuster knows they are dealing with someone who understands the applicable laws.
Not only will the insurance company possibly increase their offer, but your attorney will take steps to help you seek justice. This will include:
- Managing all communication with the insurer and liable party
- Protecting your right to a fair payout
- Investigating what happened and gathering evidence to prove your case
- Presenting a compelling case to the insurer
- Calculating a possible settlement range based on your damages
- Handling the claim, including demanding a payout and negotiating a settlement
- Considering a lawsuit if necessary
- Preparing and filing a lawsuit when needed
- Representing your best interests throughout the insurance claim process
Pursuing Damages After a Personal Injury Case With Pre-Existing Conditions
Most successful personal injury cases settle with a negotiated settlement. The insurance company agrees to a fair offer and pays the victim. However, some cases require lawsuits, and a few even go to trial in civil court. This could happen in your case if you have injuries related to a pre-existing condition.
A lawyer can help you understand which damages you may recover. After your accident, you can pursue compensation for:
- Accident-related medical treatment to date
- Medical care costs from worsening of your pre-existing condition
- Future and ongoing medical care costs for accident injuries
- Current and future income lost from time missed at work
- Diminished earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from returning to work
- Property damages, such as repairs to a crashed car
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages
In many cases, the worsening of a pre-existing condition causes more harm than just needing to pay additional medical bills. It could be why you missed work or cannot return to your previous job. Much of your pain and suffering could stem from the aggravation of your previous condition. Still, these expenses should be covered because these things only occurred as a result of the accident.
Working with an attorney ensures you have someone who will help you document your recoverable damages, including those that are difficult to put a solid number on.
Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer for Free Today
The Morris Bart law firm represents clients hurt in personal injury cases in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Arkansas. We operate 15 offices across this four-state area, serving all corners of the Gulf South. Our attorneys assess personal injury cases for free and represent victims with no upfront costs. We will answer your questions and help you make a decision about what to do next to get justice.
Contact us now to speak with a personal injury attorney near you at no cost to you. If you need help with your injury case, we are here for you.
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