Pre Existing Medical Conditions – Motor Vehicle Accidents

seat belt malfunctions

Insurance companies often use pre-existing conditions as an excuse for not paying for the crush injury of car wreck victims. They may claim that the pre-existing conditions before the accident are the reason why a plaintiff is experiencing symptoms such as pain after an accident. A resourceful accident lawyer has experience negotiating with insurance companies and can help protect your credibility in your lawsuit.

What you need to know about pre-existing injuries

You must also disclose to your attorney all details about your pre-existing medical conditions or injuries that you had before the car wreck. You cannot be paid for medical conditions that preceded the accident in a car crash claim. However, you are legally entitled to receive compensation for injuries suffered in a crash. This includes injuries that worsen your pre-existing condition.

For example, if you have arthritis in your knees and used medication to relieve it but then hurt your knees in an accident, your lawyer may argue that the accident made the condition worse.  In Texas, the “thin skull rule” or “eggshell rule” states that a person is more fragile due to a pre-existing condition. The rule points out that a fragile person suffers more in a crush than a person without pre-existing conditions.

Your pre-existing conditions cannot be used against you in court, which means the defendants must accept you as they find you at the time of the accident.  Your lawyer may assert the “thin skull rule” if you experienced severe injuries in a low-impact crush, because the jury may be skeptical of such injuries happening in such a crash. The argument here would be that the low-impact crash caused severe injury because you had a pre-existing condition that made you fragile.

Your attorney’s main goal would be to remind the jury that the accident is not your fault.

Medical Records

Your pre-existing condition will allow your lawyer to compare your before and after medical records to show how your condition after the crash worsened.  For example, an X-ray or MRI test that a person had years before can be compared with new tests to show how an accident worsened pain and so on. This is why people are often advised to keep detailed medical records so that they can use them as evidence after an accident.

In such cases, expert medical witnesses may be called to testify on whether the injury after the accident worsened a condition the plaintiff had before the crash.  If it is proven that the injury worsened the condition, then the plaintiff may claim compensation from defendants. In situations where an injury you had in the past had healed before the accident, your lawyer can argue that the accident caused all of your injury. You will have a much stronger case for claiming payments in that situation.

Insurance Company tricks

An insurance company may ask you to sign medical authorization providing them with complete access to your medical records.  They may pretend that doing so will make it easier for you to get money but the truth is that they want to use it to avoid paying you. Do not give any insurance company access to your medical history before you talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer.