Posted in Personal Injury on December 9, 2020
Not every injured accident victim is in pristine physical condition before an accident. Many victims have pre-existing injuries and health conditions. If you had a pre-existing condition that either exacerbated the severity of your new injury or was exacerbated by the new injury, this could potentially complicate your personal injury claim in Texas. It is important to hire a San Antonio personal injury lawyer if you believe a pre-existing condition will affect your injury claim.
Impact of a Pre-Existing Condition on an Injury Claim
In general, your pre-existing condition should not stand in the way of you recovering fair financial compensation for your accident-related injuries and losses. However, having a pre-existing medical problem or injury could make it more difficult to file and win a personal injury claim.
Within civil law, there is a rule known as the Eggshell Skull Doctrine. This doctrine uses the example of a person with a skull as thin as an eggshell to explain how a pre-existing condition might affect an injury claim. The Eggshell Skull Doctrine states that a defendant must take a plaintiff how he or she was at the time of the accident.
In other words, a defendant will be liable for the actual damages the plaintiff suffered, even if a pre-existing condition exacerbated or worsened these damages. If the plaintiff had an eggshell-thin skull and this led to a catastrophic brain injury that another victim reasonably would not have sustained, the defendant will still be liable for the plaintiff’s injury and related losses.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to use claimants’ pre-existing conditions against them during the claims process. Your pre-existing condition could affect your personal injury claim if the insurance company alleges the injury you are claiming was pre-existing and not from the recent accident. It may take assistance from an attorney to force the insurance company to pay fair damages in this situation.
When Should You Disclose the Condition?
For the most part, it is in your best interest to disclose a pre-existing condition that may impact your current injury claim from the beginning. It is important, however, to disclose prior injuries or conditions properly to protect your rights during negotiations with an insurance claims adjuster. First, do not give a recorded statement. No law in Texas requires you to provide a recorded statement during the insurance claims process. If you say the wrong thing about your pre-existing injury on record, the adjuster can use it against you later.
Second, do not sign a medical release form from the insurance company. This form typically requests full access to your medical records – not just the records relevant to your accident, but your full medical history. The insurance adjuster can look years into your past to try to find a pre-existing injury and refute your current claim. Instead of signing a release form, provide your own medical records to stay in control of what the insurance company sees. Provide these records upfront to avoid any allegations that you were trying to hide a pre-existing condition.
Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions That Could Affect Your Case
How your pre-existing condition or prior injury may affect your injury claim in Texas will depend on the condition itself, as well as its possible connections to your new injury. Certain pre-existing conditions are more likely to be problematic during injury claims.
- Degenerative disk disease
- Broken bones that have already healed
- Chronic back pain
- Herniated or slipped spinal disk
- Neck pain, soreness or stiffness
- Concussions/traumatic brain injuries
- Muscle strains and sprains
If your personal injury claim involves any type of pre-existing condition, contact a lawyer in San Antonio to discuss the details of your case. Your pre-existing condition could make it more difficult to secure fair compensation without assistance from an attorney.