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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

By Butler Prather LLP on October 5, 2020

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another party, you should be entitled to various types of compensation for your losses. However, a pre-existing condition could result in complications securing the compensation you are entitled to. Here, we want to discuss how insurance carriers and at-fault parties can use your pre-existing conditions against you in your personal injury claim.

Why do pre-existing conditions make a difference in a personal injury case?

In theory, it should not matter whether or not a personal injury victim has any pre-existing conditions, especially not if somebody else is responsible for causing their current injuries. However, when it comes to dealing with aggressive insurance carriers, pre-existing conditions certainly matter.

Insurance carriers are typically “for-profit” entities that will do what they can to limit the amount of money they pay out in a settlement to an injury victim. Often, this means showing that a person’s current pain and suffering was caused by an injury that they already had – a pre-existing injury. Insurance carriers think that by showing an injury victim has a pre-existing condition, that they can prove that their policyholder should not be held liable for the damages.

For an example of how an insurance carrier may see the situation, let us suppose that Benjamin is experiencing significant lower back pain in the aftermath of being rear-ended by Meredith. In most situations, it will be determined that Meredith was responsible for the incident, and her insurance carrier would have to cover the injury expenses that Benjamin incurs. However, suppose that Meredith’s insurance carrier discovers that Benjamin sustained at work injury that affected his lower back approximately five years before the crash occurred. Because of this prior injury, Meredith’s insurance carrier will likely argue that Benjamin’s pain and suffering has nothing to do with the collision, but is entirely due to his pre-existing lower back injury.

Injury victims should still be compensated

The existence of a pre-existing condition should not mean that the injury victim receives no compensation for an accident. Nobody is going to argue that an insurance carrier should pay for an injury their policyholder did not cause. However, the carrier cannot simply use the existence of a pre-existing condition as a blanket denial of a claim. Additionally, it is well-known that an accident can cause pre-existing conditions to worsen.

In order to prove these cases, injury victims will need to provide sufficient evidence against the at-fault party. This will typically involve a lawyer obtaining all evidence needed to show liability. This will also include working with trusted medical professionals who can examine the current injuries and properly demonstrate how the incident caused new injuries or aggravated pre-existing conditions.

Speak to a personal injury attorney about your case first

If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to the actions of another party, you need to work with a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. This is particularly true if you have any pre-existing conditions that insurance carriers could use to deny you your rightful compensation in these cases. An attorney understands these issues and will work to ensure that you are fully compensated for the injuries caused by the at-fault party.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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