Imagine that you’ve suffered injury in an accident. Now, assume that instead of leaving you with a new complaint, the accident intensified an ailment from which you have suffered for years. Despite this pre-existing condition, do you still have grounds for relief?
This is something that insurance companies take very seriously. In fact, if you come to them seeking financial compensation for your accident-related suffering, your previous medical history will be uppermost in their minds. They will always inquire about your prior health concerns and any injuries that you may have suffered at some earlier point in time.
When insurance adjusters do this, you can be sure of one thing: They want you to believe that since your injury is similar to one from which you already suffered, the accident itself could not possibly be responsible. What they are really doing is using intimidation to set you up for a lowball offer.
When Pre-Existing Injuries Share the Blame
Some insurers would like you to believe that your accident would never have happened had not your pre-existing condition caused you to behave in a risky manner. This, they would claim, makes you partially responsible.
For example, suppose that an old leg injury that previously bothered you only on the first day of spring in odd-numbered years suddenly acts up and throws you off balance on someone’s property. You fall and re-injure that identical leg, the one that up until now never did a thing to restrict your activities. How would an insurer deal with that?
Now, assume that you have arthritis or some other degenerative condition in your lower back, but no one has diagnosed it. It never caused you any problems, and the first you learn of it is through an MRI or X-ray taken in the hospital after you’ve sprained you back in a car crash. Although you never knew you had it, the presence of this disorder might have put you at greater risk for suffering injury in a collision and could prolong your recovery time. What are your chances now?
The truth is that if a prior physical problem that never bothered you before the accident causes difficulty after it, the contrast in your physical condition between then and now should pinpoint the accident itself as the reason for your current complaint. This is particularly true if you are able to show that prior to the mishap, your pre-existing condition had never created a need for ongoing medical attention, physical therapy or prescription medication, nor had it in any way impeded your ability to work, play sports or otherwise lead an active life.
When an Accident Aggravates a Prior Condition
Not everyone leads a healthy, pain-free life. Many people suffer from chronic medical complaints calling for ongoing medical treatment and pain relief through prescription drugs. An accident can easily aggravate these conditions, creating a need for intensive physical therapy, more frequent doctor visits and an increase in drug dosage.
This is when the doctor’s professional opinion of your worsened condition can play a crucial role. Any accident-induced worsening of a prior physical disorder is worthy of compensation. Written evidence in the form of a statement from the claimant’s regular physician along with medical bills illustrative of rising medical costs and the need for escalating treatment should push the insurance company toward a fair evaluation of your case and a more reasonable settlement of your claim.
When Your Prior Condition Was Already Severe
If your medical records show that you had received active treatment for a serious condition just prior to the accident, your physician could find it difficult to determine whether the accident played a role in worsening your condition. You can clarify the matter by explaining your activity level as it existed in contrast to the additional limitations you currently face. Your family and friends can also testify to the adverse changes they have noticed in your abilities and activity levels in the weeks and months following the accident.
When the Insurer Puts Up a Fight
With insurance companies, the ability to argue down claims of accident victims with pre-existing conditions rises to the level of Olympic sport. They are likely to insist that the presence of prior physical impediments must limit the amount of compensation for which they are responsible. Nevertheless, in most states, the burden of proof falls squarely on the shoulders of insurance adjusters. It is their responsibility to show that an accident that causes or aggravates a prior condition has not also substantially contributed to the victim’s post-accident physical condition. This can be hard for them to prove.
The offer made by an insurer will almost always be lower than the compensation you could expect to receive through a successful personal injury lawsuit. If you decide to sue for damages, you will have to prove more than simple liability. You will also have to demonstrate the difference between your physical condition as it was before and as it exists today.
However, as it does with insurance companies, Nevada also puts the burden of proof on the defendant in a personal injury case. If it expects to win in court or pay you the lowest possible compensation, the party responsible for the accident will need to come up with a way of proving that the mishap itself played no role in causing or aggravating a plaintiff’s current physical condition.
Whether you are dealing with an insurer or prefer to fight your case in court, the injury attorneys at Weiner Law Group can help by conclusively contrasting your pre-accident activity levels and medical needs with your current condition and abilities. Regardless of any physical problems from which you may have suffered before, you are entitled to compensation for current physical afflictions resulting from the accident. The personal injury attorneys at Weiner Law Group will fight to see that you get it. Call today at 702-202-0500.