What to do if a Car Accident Aggravated a Pre-Existing Condition

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What to do if a Car Accident Aggravated a Pre-Existing Condition

By Max Connect
March 11, 2024

Car accidents are traumatic events with the potential to turn lives upside down, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions. When an accident aggravates a condition you were already dealing with, it complicates both your recovery and the settlement process. Understanding how to navigate these complexities is crucial for anyone in this situation.

Let’s dive deeper into how pre-existing conditions affect car accident settlements and explore strategies to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

When it comes to car accident claims, a pre-existing condition refers to any medical issue that existed prior to the accident. These conditions range widely, from chronic back pain and arthritis to more complex issues like heart disease or diabetes. Legally, if a car accident exacerbates these conditions, victims are still entitled to compensation for the aggravation of their pre-existing issues.

The legal system recognizes the “Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine,” which says that defendants must take plaintiffs as they find them. This means if you have a pre-existing condition that was worsened by an accident, the at-fault party is still responsible for the additional harm caused, even if the condition made you more susceptible to injury than a person without such a condition.

However, proving that an auto accident aggravated a pre-existing condition can be challenging. It requires clear documentation and often the testimony of medical experts. For instance, if someone with pre-existing degenerative disc disease is involved in a rear-end collision that results in increased back pain or mobility issues, they must demonstrate that the accident directly worsened their condition, rather than the progression of the disease itself.

Insurance companies are often skeptical of claims involving pre-existing injuries, as they may argue that the damages claimed are not directly attributable to the accident. Individuals facing these circumstances must be prepared with comprehensive medical records, expert opinions, and sometimes, legal representation to substantiate their claims.

The journey to a fair settlement in these cases begins with understanding the importance of your medical history and the role it plays in your car accident claim. Next, we’ll discuss the critical steps of disclosure and documentation to build a strong case for your settlement.

Disclosure and Documentation: A Crucial First Step

The process of seeking compensation for an aggravated pre-existing condition after a car accident hinges significantly on two factors: disclosure and documentation. Here’s how to effectively manage both to strengthen your claim.

Gathering Medical Records: Start by compiling all medical records related to your pre-existing condition before the accident. This includes doctor’s notes, diagnostic tests, MRIs, physical therapy, and any other treatment records. Post-accident records are equally important, as they can illustrate changes in your condition attributable to the crash.

Maintaining a Symptom Diary: Keeping a detailed diary of your symptoms after the accident can also support your claim. Note any changes in pain levels, mobility issues, or new symptoms, as this can provide a day-to-day account of your condition’s progression post-accident.

Photographic Evidence: If visible injuries are present or if the accident scene can demonstrate the crash’s severity, photos can be compelling evidence to support the aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

With your documentation in order, the next step is understanding how these pre-existing conditions influence the calculation of your settlement. This involves navigating insurance company tactics and leveraging your evidence to ensure your settlement reflects the true impact of the accident on your health and well-being.

Impact on Settlement Calculations

Insurance companies employ various methods to assess claims, especially when pre-existing conditions are involved. Understanding these methods and how your condition fits into the equation is crucial for negotiating a fair settlement.

Insurance Company Assessments

Insurance adjusters will scrutinize medical records to determine if the accident directly aggravated your pre-existing condition. They often look for gaps in treatment or inconsistencies in medical documentation to minimize their payout. Demonstrating a clear link between the accident and the exacerbation of your condition is therefore essential.

Role of Medical Experts

Medical experts are invaluable in establishing the extent of your condition’s aggravation. They can provide detailed reports and, if necessary, testify regarding the nature of your injuries, differentiating between symptoms related to pre-existing conditions and those directly caused or worsened by the accident.

Consider a hypothetical scenario where an individual with a pre-existing health condition of mild neck pain experiences a car accident that results in a significant neck injury, back injury, and reduced mobility. Prior to the car crash, their pain was manageable and did not significantly impact their daily life. However, post-accident, their condition deteriorates rapidly, necessitating more aggressive treatment and impacting their quality of life. In this case, a medical expert can illustrate how the trauma from the accident accelerated the progression of the injury beyond its natural course.

Calculating the Settlement

The settlement calculation will consider the cost of medical treatments required due to the accident, including any future medical expenses related to the aggravated condition. It also accounts for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, which may be higher in cases where pre-existing conditions are exacerbated.

Negotiating with insurance companies requires a comprehensive understanding of your medical condition, supported by solid documentation and expert testimony. Armed with this knowledge, you can more effectively argue for a settlement that truly compensates for the accident’s impact on your life.

Strategies for Maximizing Your Settlement

Maximizing your settlement when a car accident aggravates a pre-existing condition involves strategic negotiation, thorough preparation, and, sometimes, legal representation. Here are key strategies to ensure you receive a fair settlement:

1. Comprehensive Medical Evaluation

  • Seek a Thorough Assessment: After the accident, obtain a comprehensive medical evaluation to document the aggravation of your pre-existing condition. This should include any new injuries and the detailed impact on your health.
  • Use Specialists: Consult with specialists and medical professionals related to your pre-existing condition to get an expert opinion on how the accident affected your health. Their insights will provide valuable evidence for your claim.

2. Negotiation Tactics

  • Understand the Full Value of Your Claim: Research and understand the potential value of your claim, considering both economic and non-economic damages. This knowledge will give you a solid foundation for negotiations.
  • Start High: Your initial settlement demand should be higher than the amount you are willing to accept. This gives you negotiation room.
  • Highlight Evidence: Present your medical documentation, expert opinions, and any other evidence in a clear and organized manner to support your claim for the aggravated condition.

3. Legal Representation

  • Consult an Attorney: Especially in complex cases involving pre-existing conditions, consulting with a personal injury attorney can be beneficial. They can navigate legal complexities, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and ensure your rights are protected.
  • Choose the Right Attorney: Look for an attorney with experience in similar cases who understands how to present and argue for the full impact of an accident on a pre-existing condition.

4. Be Patient

  • Avoid Rushing the Process: Insurance companies may offer a quick settlement to close the case. However, these initial offers are often lower than what you may be entitled to. Be patient and willing to negotiate for a better offer.

5. Documentation and Organization

  • Keep Detailed Records: Like we mentioned above, maintain a file with all relevant documents, including medical records, communications with insurance companies, and any out-of-pocket expenses. This organized approach ensures you have all the information needed to support your personal injury claim.

By employing these strategies, you can position yourself to receive a fair settlement that reflects the true extent of the impact on your pre-existing condition. Remember, the goal is not just to compensate for immediate medical expenses but also to cover any long-term care needs and the broader impact on your quality of life.

Reclaim Your Peace: Navigating the Path to Justice and Healing with Compassion

In the wake of a car accident, the journey towards healing is often compounded by the resurgence of past injuries, adding layers of frustration and pain to an already difficult situation. It’s a time when the burden feels overwhelming, and the quest for justice seems tangled in a web of legal complexities. Parker & McConkie extends a guiding hand through these difficult times with an offer of a free case evaluation.

Schedule your complimentary consultation today with our Utah car accident lawyers, and take that pivotal first step towards not only securing the compensation you rightfully deserve but also reclaiming your peace and comfort.

How Can We Help You?

Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708