This article is by Marc Albert, a Long Island personal injury lawyer. Injuries are a complex subject when it comes to accidents. Understanding what’s covered, what’s not, and how claims and insurance work helps you learn your next move. It’s not always easy to determine what’s covered following an accident, or what you can add to a lawsuit if you make the decision to sue the person responsible for your accident. The general rule is all injuries you sustain during your accident are covered by the at-fault party’s insurance. There are state laws that place a cap on payouts, which means you could only be covered up to $10,000 in medical bills in many states. When bills from treatment and medical exceed this, many accident victims turn to a personal injury attorney for help.
Understanding Pre-Existing Conditions
The one gray area in accident victims’ lives is pre-existing conditions. This is a condition you had long before the accident, and it means many things once an accident occurs. Let’s say you have an old back injury from high school sports. It’s been decades since you played and injured yourself, but your car accident caused your back to hurt again. Now you’re undergoing treatment for pain and incurring excessive medical bills.
Your car accident obviously caused your back to hurt, but the at-fault driver’s insurance could claim your old injury caused it to hurt, and they might satay they’re not going to cover the cost of your medical bills. They might pay for some of your medical bills but not all, or they might argue they owe you nothing. Pre-existing conditions are not covered under insurance when someone else causes an accident, but there are a few exceptions to this rule.
Signing a Medical Release
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will do anything they can to get out of paying your medical bills. They don’t want to pay that kind of money to you, and they’re going to look for any reasons available to keep their money to themselves. One of the techniques they use to make this happen involves a medical release form. The insurance agency will contact you and ask you to sign this paper very quickly.
They’ll make it sound casual and like it’s not a big deal, but that it will make the processing of your claim occur much faster. They might even tell you if you sign it, they’ll end up getting you a check so much sooner than they will without a signature. Now you’re convinced you should sign this paper yesterday, because why would the insurance company lie to you?
They’re lying to you because it’s not a requirement, and they want that signature. They want to have access to your medical bills, but not just the ones you incurred since your accident. They want your medical history from long before so they can find out if you have any pre-existing conditions that might have contributed to your current health issues. If they can find anything from the day you were born to the time of the accident that’s in any way related to your accident injuries, they’ll find it and use it against you.
Do not sign this waiver, and do not allow anyone but you to have access to your medical records. A judge might determine your pre-existing condition is partially to blame for your accident injuries, and this might reduce the amount of damages you’re awarded. You must be very careful about admitting you have any pre-existing conditions, old injuries, or anything that might damage your case if it comes down to it.
Call an attorney if you have any questions. Personal injury attorneys are well-versed in cases with this issue, and they know they law. They’ll help you figure out which forms to sign, what to say, what to do, and how to keep your case on track. It’s easier to handle the at-fault driver’s insurance company when you have the help of a legal professional on your side. Don’t let someone else ruin your personal injury case. Call us for a free consultation to discuss your pre-existing conditions and what those might mean to your current case.