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Will a Pre-Existing Injury Hurt My Personal Injury Case?

It is often believed that personal injury claimants can only have successful outcomes in their cases if they were in perfect health before the accident occurred. However, many people do not make it through decades of life without acquiring a lingering injury of some sort. What happens if you have a pre-existing injury? Can you still file a claim, even if the injury you incurred in the accident is in the same part of your body as your previous injury was?

You Are Still Entitled to Compensation, Even With a Pre-Existing Injury

Let’s clear up the big question first: Yes, you are entitled to compensation for injuries that resulted from someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, even if you had a pre-existing injury in the same area of your body as the injury you incurred in the accident that has given rise to your personal injury claim.

Why Does a Pre-Existing Condition Matter to Your Personal Injury Claim?

One of the most important things to remember about a personal injury claim is that they are generally compensated through the at-fault party’s associated insurance policy. Insurance providers are in the business to make money. They do this by selling policies. They do not do this by paying out on claims filed by those who were injured by their insured. In fact, the insurance company’s goal is to pay as little for the claim as possible.

Because of this, the insurance adjuster will look for any reason why the claim should not be paid. One common resource used by insurance companies to reduce or eliminate a claim is the existence of pre-existing conditions and the difficulties that personal injury claimants have in showing that the current pain or problems they are dealing with were a result of the accident, not the pre-existing condition.

When It Matters

The main time when having a pre-existing condition matters to your personal injury claim is when the injuries that you sustained in your accident overlap those you had before the accident. While the at-fault party is not responsible for compensating you for the original injury, they are responsible for compensating you for the worsening of that condition as a direct result of the accident.

When It Doesn’t Matter

If you had a pre-existing knee injury and are seeking compensation for injuries to a different body part—such as the shoulder or the brain—the pre-existing condition will likely not cause concern for either your attorney or the insurance carrier unless it is believed that your pre-existing condition led to the accident itself. An example would be if the insurance carrier attempted to suggest that your knee injury resulted in an inability to properly and safely operate your vehicle. However, you should still mention all pre-existing conditions to your attorney during your initial evaluation, just so they are aware.

The Importance of Disclosing Your Pre-Existing Injury to Your Attorney

It is important when hiring a personal injury attorney that you fully disclose all pre-existing medical conditions. In order for an insurance adjuster, a judge, or a jury to consider how much compensation is owed to you, they must start with the condition that you were in when the accident occurred. This can only be done if your attorney discloses the presence of any pre-existing conditions that are pertinent to your current condition.

If you fail to disclose your pre-existing condition to your attorney and they present your case as though the injury never occurred, it is likely that the insurance adjuster will discover the pre-existing injury on their own. Your failure to disclose this information will be a red flag that can impact the amount the adjuster is willing to offer as settlement of your claim or that the court will award you when they reach their decision.

What Your Attorney Will Attempt to Prove

Your attorney will be tasked with proving that your injuries were either caused or made worse by the accident. To do this, you will need:

  1. Medical records from both before and after the accident
  2. A medical opinion from a physician who states that your current condition was caused or worsened by the accident and that you would not be suffering the level of injury that you currently have if you had not experienced the accident

Pre-Existing Condition? Let Us Give You Answers

One of the easiest ways to determine how your pre-existing condition will impact your claim and to mitigate its potential impacts is by talking to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case. We can explain the legal process of seeking compensation and give you more information about the services we can provide to assist you in pursuing the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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