Most personal injury lawyers in Alabama have no doubt been asked this question. That’s because many injured people worry that they won’t get compensation when the insurance company learns their medical history and they see the pre-existing condition. Given the general reluctance of insurance companies to make payouts, this fear is understandable.
However, despite your condition, the at-fault party is still responsible for the consequences of their actions. Their insurer should, therefore, honor the claim once it is valid. Of course, things often don’t go according to plan. If you want to ensure you get the best possible settlement offer, you will need a personal injury to help you.
Few people have perfect health or a history free of medical problems. You may have a degenerative condition, illness or prior injury which results in symptoms similar to those caused by the accident. Under what is called the “eggshell skull rule”, the defendant must take you as they find you. Even if you are more prone to injury because of another condition, they can be held liable.
Let’s say you have chronic back pain and you slipped and fell on a wet restaurant floor. You find your pain is now much more severe and you can’t stand for as long as you previously could. Even though you already had back problems, the restaurant operator may still be held liable for your damages. Naturally, their insurance company will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying so you should expect a fight.
You probably already know you should always seek medical attention after an accident. However, if you already had an injury or illness and you’re feeling pain, it becomes more important. Your medical report will play a critical role in your quest for compensation so you shouldn’t take any chances. You need to show your condition became worse after the incident in question.
As with any personal injury claim, you need to prove the defendant acted negligently and their negligence caused your injuries. You will need to hire an attorney who has been successful in securing damages for clients with pre-existing conditions.
You have to be able to show the defendant’s actions or inaction caused new injuries. To do so, you will likely have to provide extensive medical records and expert testimony. These must show that your pre-accident and post-accident injuries are distinct. Even if the defendant admits to acting negligently, they may still argue that you didn’t suffer a new injury. If you can’t prove otherwise, you’re unlikely to get damages.
Let’s go back to the previous example of a slip and fall. Let’s assume that prior to the accident, your back pain was so bad you couldn’t work some days. The defendant will go over your medical records and compare your symptoms before and after the accident. If there is not much difference, they will argue there was no new injury for which you could claim damages.
You may still be able to secure damages in some cases where the injuries aren’t distinct. However, you have to prove your pre-existing injury or condition was aggravated by the defendant’s conduct. The entitles you to damages for any losses resulting from the difference between the injuries.
Let’s say your chronic back pain had been under control and you were able to carry out your regular duties. After you slipped and fell, your pain went from one to eight on a scale of one to ten. Moving around became very difficult. If your quality of life and ability to earn an income changed significantly, you will likely be entitled to damages.
If you have a pre-existing injury or condition, securing damages can be difficult. If you hire a personal injury accident lawyer, you will have an ally and an advocate. At the Vance Law Firm, we will help you prove you suffered a new or aggravated injury. We will also work to prove that the defendant was indeed responsible for your injuries. This is the only way you will be able to get compensation. If negotiating with insurance company produces no results, we will take the matter to court.
Injuries can have terrible effects on individuals and families, so we work hard to ensure valid claims get paid. You don’t have to give up simply because you have a pre-existing condition. Contact us today to see how we can help you.