If you've been injured in a car crash or slip-and-fall, you know that these accidents are not only painful, they can be complicated. Insurance companies are not so quick to pay out cash on your claim, and the person that injured you may deny that they were at fault forcing you to litigate your case. The situation may only become worse if you suffered from a pre-existing injury or condition prior to your personal injury accident. For this reason, it is always best to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney—like those at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal—to review your case and discuss your legal options.
Pre-Existing Medical Condition(s)
As the name implies, a pre-existing medical condition (or injury) is one that you had prior to the injuries you sustained in your most recent accident. Your pre-existing condition may be completed unrelated to your new injuries, may be aggravated by your recent accident or both.
For example, you may have injured your back a few years ago in a workplace accident and then last month were rear-ended by a negligent driver and as a result, your back injury became worse, you sprained your left wrist and suffered whiplash injuries to your neck. In this case, your pre-existing back injury was aggravated by the car accident and you sustained new injuries to your wrist and neck.
How Does My Pre-Existing Condition Impact My Case?
Pre-existing conditions complicate your personal injury suit because they allow insurance companies and defendants (the person that injured you) to deny liability for your injuries on grounds that you already suffered from your claimed injuries prior to the accident – whether or not this is true. You would be surprised how often insurance companies attempt to deny claims, even after admitting that their client was at fault, due to your pre-existing condition(s). Legally, however, this is not quite how it works. Here are the basic principles of pre-existing conditions and what they mean to your personal injury case.
First and foremost, a person who is at fault for an accident is liable for 100% of the damages (injuries) caused by the accident and 100% not at fault for the injuries not directly caused by the accident. This works to your advantage if you suffered from a medical condition that made you particularly susceptible to injury and pain, because the defendant takes the plaintiff (you) as they find you.
Second, a defendant is only liable for damages directly caused by their negligence. With regard to pre-existing conditions, this means that the defendant is only responsible for the costs of aggravating or worsening your pre-existing condition.
For instance, using the example above, the driver who rear-ended you would be responsible for the damages to your wrist and neck, but would only be liable for the costs associated with treating the aggravation of your back injury, not for the entire back injury itself. So, if after your workplace injury years ago you received treatment and are now on a daily pain medication, the defendant would only have to pay for any therapy you need now to fix the worsening of your back as well as the costs of new medications or the increased dosage of your old medication required for you to recover from the aggravation. The defendant would not be responsible for any past treatments on your back or the costs of medication that you were already taking prior to the rear-end car accident.
Because defendants and their insurance companies will only be liable for any “new” damages or injuries that you suffer as a result of the defendant's conduct, you will need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney and medical experts to show the judge or jury that your pre-existing condition was aggravated and you are entitled to compensation. Accordingly, following an accident, you should seek medical treatment right away and get documentation of all your injuries. Then, speak to a personal injury attorney in your area.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal offer free consultations to all injured people and their families. Our attorneys will evaluate your case, and let you know what your legal options are – whether that means a negotiated settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 647-4511 or visit us online.