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How Pre-existing Conditions May Affect Car Accident Claims

May 18, 2022Car Accidents

If you have been involved in a car accident and have a pre-existing condition, there is a chance that it will affect your car accident claim. Although you are still entitled to compensation if the collision exacerbated your pre-existing condition, the at-fault party’s insurance company will likely try to minimize your payout.

What a Pre-Existing Injury Can Mean for Your Claim

A pre-existing condition has the potential to impact your car accident claim, but it will depend on the specifics of your situation. Many insurers will try to use a pre-existing injury as a reason to deny your claim or extend an unreasonably low settlement offer. You will likely face many questions concerning your pre-existing conditions, and the at-fault party’s insurer will try to gain access to your complete medical records. They will look for any reason to attribute the symptoms you are experiencing after the collision to your pre-existing condition in order to minimize their liability.

The “Eggshell Skull Rule”

In car accident cases, the at-fault party is responsible for making the injured party “whole.” In other words, they must pay for their losses to the point where the victim is in the state they were in prior to the collision or as close as possible. Under the legal doctrine, the “eggshell skull rule,” at-fault parties must take their victims as they find them. As a result, the at-fault party cannot evade responsibility for an accident because of your condition. You are entitled to compensation even if you have a pre-existing condition, as long as it was aggravated or made worse due to the other party’s negligence.

Do I Have to Disclose a Pre-Existing Condition?

Claimants should always disclose a pre-existing condition. The failure to do so could wind up sabotaging your claim if the at-fault party’s insurer was to find out about it on their own. If that happens, they may be able to successfully avoid liability for your new injury or symptoms because your credibility is gone. It is best to have your lawyer notify them to protect you from accidentally saying something that can unintentionally hurt your claim. If you do tell the adjuster upfront, wait to sign a medical release or any other forms until you consult an attorney.

What Are Common Types of Pre-Existing Conditions

Most individuals have experienced some type of injury or condition at some point. This can include an injury caused by a traumatic event, an ongoing illness, a previous surgical procedure, etc. The most common pre-existing medical conditions reported include:

  • Back injuries
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Arthritis
  • History of chiropractic care
    Diabetes
    Osteoporosis
    Neck or head injuries
    Heart problems
    Respiratory conditions
    Previous pain treatments (medications, stents, pacemakers, etc.)
    Emotional or psychological conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, etc.)

If you suffer from one of these or any other pre-existing condition and have been injured in a car accident, it is highly recommended to speak to an experienced St. Louis Car Accident Attorney. They will help you gather the evidence to prove your condition was aggravated and deserves compensation.

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