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The Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions on Car Accident Claims

If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be entitled to compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, this can impact your ability to recover damages. This article will examine how pre-existing conditions affect car accident claims and what you need to know if you have prior injuries or illnesses.

What are Pre-Existing Conditions?

A pre-existing condition refers to any injury, illness, or medical issue that existed before the car accident occurred. This includes both physical and mental health conditions. Some examples of pre-existing conditions that could impact a car accident claim include:

  • Chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, etc.
  • Prior surgeries, fractures, or orthopedic injuries.
  • Psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
  • Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease.
  • Autoimmune diseases like lupus, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia.
  • Genetic conditions or birth defects.
  • Past traumatic brain injuries or concussions.
  • Degenerative disc disease or degenerative joint disease.

The key factor is that the condition existed and was problematic before the car accident, though you may not have been formally diagnosed yet. If a medical issue gets worse due to the accident, it is still considered pre-existing.

How Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Damages and Claims

When you make a car accident injury claim, you must prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused your injuries and losses. If you have pre-existing conditions, the insurance company will argue that some or all of your damages stem from the prior condition rather than the accident itself. This can limit your ability to recover compensation.

Some specific ways a pre-existing condition can impact your car accident claim include:

  • The insurance company may dispute what injuries or aggravation were directly caused by the collision. For example, did the accident really worsen your back pain or arthritis?
  • Your pre-accident symptoms and treatment history will be scrutinized to determine a baseline for the condition. Damages from before this baseline date may be excluded.
  • Pre-existing psychological conditions like depression or anxiety make it harder to prove accident-related mental distress.
  • The insurance company may claim some of your treatment costs and lost wages would have occurred anyway even without the accident.
  • It gives the defense an opening to argue that another cause, not the accident, is responsible for your damages.
  • In severe cases, the pre-existing issue could be seen as the main or only cause of your injuries and losses. This risks your case being denied altogether.
  • Juries may award you less in damages if they think you already had health problems or disabilities before the accident.

However, having a pre-existing condition does not automatically destroy your claim either. An experienced attorney can help maximize your compensation by distinguishing accident-related injuries from prior issues.

Strategies for Pursuing a Claim with Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have pre-existing conditions and have been in a car accident, don’t assume you cannot make a claim. You still have rights. Follow these strategies to put yourself in the best position:

  • Get written documentation from your doctors confirming what conditions and symptoms you had prior to the accident versus new injuries incurred. Contemporary medical records will be crucial.
  • Prove any aggravation of your pre-existing conditions using diagnostic testing, specialist reports, and thorough treatment notes. Quantify how much worse the issues became post-accident.
  • Follow prescribed treatment plans to show you are trying to mitigate damages, rather than relying on the accident for unnecessary care.
  • Be prepared to separate pre and post-accident costs/losses. Estimate the proportion of wage loss, medical bills, etc. attributable to each category.
  • Hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can anticipate defenses, retain expert witnesses, and maximize recoverable damages for you.
  • Explore alternative compensation sources like your own auto insurance, workers’ compensation, or short/long-term disability benefits.

Documenting your health history, following medical advice, and hiring a qualified lawyer are all key when handling an accident claim with pre-existing issues. Being proactive strengthens your demand for fair compensation.

Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions Impacting Claims

To understand these issues more clearly, consider these examples of how pre-existing conditions could affect a car accident claim and recovery:

  • Maria had chronic back pain and spinal arthritis for 5 years before her crash. She now wants compensation for a herniated disc requiring surgery after the accident. The defense argues her pre-existing degeneration and symptoms show the disc problem is not truly accident-related.
  • Bill had anxiety and depression diagnosed by his doctor last year. After a collision, he claims the mental distress from the accident keeps him from working. The insurance company disputes that the psychological injuries stem from this crash versus his previously diagnosed disorders.
  • Joanne had knee surgery to repair an ACL tear a decade ago. After a recent accident, she re-tears the same ACL. The insurance company argues this prior injury caused inherent weakness and the tear was inevitable without any crash.
  • Henry was in a minor car accident but had applied for disability benefits for chronic neck and back pain just 2 weeks before. The insurer now disputes that the collision could have caused his claimed injuries so soon after seeking disability for the same symptoms.

As you can see, car accident claims become far more complex with pre-existing conditions in the picture. Consulting an attorney helps significantly in overcoming the challenges these situations create.

Consulting a Car Accident Attorney

If you have pre-existing medical conditions and have suffered injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, it is important to have a qualified personal injury attorney review your case. An experienced lawyer can advise you on how best to present your demand to maximize compensation in light of your prior health issues. Key attorney tasks may include:

  • Evaluating what injuries and losses can reasonably be attributed to the car accident versus pre-existing causes.
  • Drafting a demand letter that addresses your pre-accident medical history while emphasizing the additional harms from the crash.
  • Retaining medical experts who can analyze causation and provide supporting reports.
  • Disputing unreasonable conclusions by insurance company doctors who aim to minimize your claim.
  • Negotiating a fair settlement offer considering the full picture of your situation.
  • Taking the case to trial if needed, presenting arguments to overcome questions related to pre-existing conditions.

Do not simply accept an insurer denying your claim or undervaluing injuries because of prior health problems. An attorney experienced in these cases can help you fight for maximum available compensation.

Contact our experienced car accident lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your claim. We have helped numerous clients with pre-existing conditions recover millions in damages over decades of practice. Let us review your case and provide trusted legal guidance to protect your rights.

Visit our offices at:

  • Orlando – 315 Park Lake Cir., Orlando, FL 32803
  • Tampa – 11700 N. 58th St., Ste. A, Temple Terrace, FL 33617
  • Kissimmee – 1052 E. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34744
  • Poinciana – 4663 Old Pleasant Hill Road, Poinciana, FL 34759
  • Davenport – 40230 US Highway 27, Suite 140, Davenport, FL 33837
  • Bradenton – 409 6th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34208

Or call now for a free consultation on (888) 522-0222.

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