Will a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

Personal Injury On Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A pre-existing condition is something you had before the accident for which you are currently seeking financial compensation. It can refer to an old injury that has previously healed or an ongoing medical condition that you live with, such as arthritis or high blood pressure.

How a pre-existing injury might affect your personal injury claim depends on the specific circumstances. Unfortunately, insurance companies often make it more difficult for claimants with pre-existing conditions to recover.

What Does the Law Say About Pre-Existing Conditions?

A pre-existing condition alone will not bar you from financial recovery during a personal injury claim. The main doctrine that covers this is the Eggshell Skull Rule. This rule states that a defendant is liable for a plaintiff’s uncommon reaction to negligence or an intentional tort.

In other words, even if a plaintiff had a pre-existing or underlying condition that made his or her damages worse than the average plaintiff, the defendant will be liable for the full extent of the damage. This rule got its name from an example where if a plaintiff had a skull as thin as an eggshell, the defendant would still be liable for the full extent of his or her brain injury, even if a normal plaintiff would not have suffered as serious an injury.

By law, a defendant legally must take you as you were at the time of your accident. A defendant will be liable if the accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition or vice versa. However, if an insurance company believes you are filing a claim for a pre-existing condition alone that was not affected by the accident, it may deny your claim.

Common Pre-Existing Conditions That Affect Personal Injury Claims

The two types of pre-existing conditions that are relevant in personal injury law are chronic conditions and previous injuries. If you have either type, it may impact your injury claim in Connecticut. If your pre-existing condition magnified your losses, you could be eligible for greater compensation. An insurance company, however, will try to use it to diminish your financial recovery.

Common pre-existing conditions that could affect your injury claim in Connecticut include:

  • A healed broken bone
  • A heart condition
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • A back injury
  • Chronic back pain
  • Degenerative disk disease

If a pre-existing condition worsened the injuries from your accident or vice versa, an insurance company will not have the right to deny benefits based on this fact alone. You will not be entitled to financial compensation, however, for a condition or injury that existed before your accident. For this reason, insurance companies often search for pre-existing conditions that could give them a reason to reject benefits.

How Can You Protect Your Rights During a Personal Injury Claim?

Your claim will be more complicated if you have a pre-existing condition. During the insurance process, it is up to you to prove that the injury you are claiming is not something you already had before the accident. You must prove that the accident caused or aggravated your injuries. You can do this using your medical records, letters from your doctor and testimony from medical experts.

Do not sign anything given to you by the insurance company during your injury claim. An insurance company will search for reasons to deny your claim, including trying to blame your current injury on a pre-existing condition. For this reason, it is important not to sign a Medical Authorization Release Form from the insurance company without talking to an attorney. These forms often grant full access to the insurer to all of your medical records, rather than only the records relevant to your case.

Do not accept a settlement from an insurance company without consulting with a personal injury lawyer first. If you have a pre-existing injury, the initial offer may not be fair for your past and future damages. If you have a pre-existing condition that you believe will affect your personal injury claim, contact an attorney for assistance with the insurance process before signing anything. An attorney can help you protect your rights.

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