Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?
Texas law gives you the right to seek fair compensation for the damages you sustain in a car accident if someone else is to blame.
While this should be simple, for-profit insurance companies use claims adjusters who work to reduce payouts.
The more serious the injuries and the higher the value of the claim, the harder they work to limit a settlement.
If you have a pre-existing condition that was worsened in a car or truck accident, the insurance company will likely try to use your health against you. They may claim you weren’t even injured in the accident or that they should not be liable for your medical expenses.
Stephens Law Firm, PLLC stands up for injury victims against the insurance companies. Under Texas law, you shouldn’t be penalized for your pre-existing condition. Contact Jason Stephens, a Fort Worth car accident lawyer, at (817) 420-7000 to schedule your free consultation today.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help with an Injury Claim Involving a Pre-Existing Condition
For-profit insurance companies always attempt to limit settlements using many tactics. Accident victims with pre-existing conditions often face an uphill battle against insurers. The insurance company may use their condition as an excuse to deny or limit a claim.
Jason Stephens of Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is an award-winning trial lawyer and Fort Worth personal injury lawyer who has secured some of the country’s largest verdicts for his clients.
He has earned a Superb 10.0 AVVO rating and the highest Martindale-Hubbell AV rating. Jason Stephens will serve as your advocate to protect your legal rights and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company.
If the insurance company will not reach a fair settlement, Jason Stephens is not afraid to take your case to court. Juries are not sympathetic to defendants who try to use a victim’s pre-existing conditions against them to limit their own liability.
Contact Stephens Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule your free consultation and begin building your case.
What Is Considered a Pre-Existing Condition?
In a personal injury claim, a pre-existing condition refers to a condition affecting the same area of the body or bodily system that was injured in the accident.
After a car crash, the at-fault party is legally responsible for the damages the victim suffered. The compensation is designed to make the injured victim as whole and healthy as they were before the accident. However, the at-fault driver is not liable for compensating someone for injuries they did not cause.
When your pre-existing condition is aggravated by an accident, you can be compensated for additional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and medical expenses you face. You will not be entitled to medical expenses you would have faced regardless of the accident.
Some of the most common pre-existing conditions that affect car accident injury claims include:
- Heart conditions
- Back injuries such as herniated discs and degenerative disc disease
- Arthritis and osteoarthritis
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Knee and shoulder injuries
- Brain injuries
You still have the right to compensation for your injuries from the at-fault party, even with a pre-existing condition. Contact Jason Stephens, an experienced Fort Worth personal injury attorney at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, to begin exploring your legal rights.
The Eggshell Skull Rule in Texas
The “eggshell skull” or “fragile plaintiff” theory is crucial in car accident cases involving pre-existing conditions. Under this rule, negligent drivers can’t choose the victim or their health; they must accept them as they are. This means someone with a pre-existing condition or someone who was particularly vulnerable to injury has the same right to recover benefits as someone without the condition or susceptibility.
This rule is important because it means the defendant cannot claim that someone else wouldn’t have been as injured in the crash as a defense. They also cannot limit their liability to the extent of injury their behavior would have typically caused a healthier victim.
The eggshell skull rule also makes it irrelevant whether the other driver was aware of your pre-existing condition. Your injury claim can’t be denied simply because your condition or general health made you more vulnerable to injury.
To protect your claim, it’s important to show that your pre-existing condition was stable at the time of the accident. Despite the eggshell skull rule, the defendant and their insurance company may still try to use your condition against you. A car accident lawyer in Fort Worth will help you understand how your pre-existing condition may affect your claim.
Why You Should Disclose a Pre-Existing Condition
One of the biggest mistakes you can make after an accident is failing to disclose your pre-existing condition. While your pre-existing condition does not bar you from recovering compensation, hiding it can damage your claim. It’s crucial to disclose your condition to your Fort Worth personal injury lawyer who will inform the insurance company.
The insurance company will request a statement from you after your accident. This statement will be analyzed for facts that can be used against you. If you fail to disclose a pre-existing condition, the claims adjuster may claim you were not even injured in the accident, merely trying to recover compensation for the injury that existed beforehand.
Keep in mind the insurance adjuster will also request medical bills and records after your accident. They will check your medical history for information that can be used against you. Your pre-existing condition will come up during this check; if you fail to disclose it, your credibility and your claim can be damaged.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately After Your Accident
It’s always important to seek immediate medical care after an accident, even if you do not think you are hurt. This is because injuries may not be immediately apparent. If you have a pre-existing condition, immediate medical attention is even more crucial.
Visiting a physician as soon as possible is an important step to demonstrate that your accident aggravated your condition or contributed to new injuries and you are not trying to recover compensation for an unrelated condition. This can also document how your condition was worsened by your accident.
Unless you need emergency medical treatment, it’s best to see the same medical providers who have been treating your pre-existing condition. Your primary care physician or specialist will be best able to show the progression of your condition and symptoms to prove that the accident worsened your injury.
It’s also important to seek appropriate follow-up care. Remember that the extent of the aggravation or progression of your condition may not be obvious for weeks or even months.
Jason Stephens of Stephens Law Firm, PLLC recommends taking the additional step of keeping a daily journal. Use it to track your symptoms, how your life changes, and the type of medical procedures you must undergo. This will make it easier to show how the accident changed your life and health.
How a Pre-Existing Condition Affects Damages in a Car Accident Claim
As the victim of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it is not your fault that you had a pre-existing condition. This does not limit your legal right to recover compensation from the at-fault party. However, a pre-existing condition or injury can complicate an injury claim.
The person who caused your accident is only legally responsible for the damages they caused, not medical expenses you would have faced regardless of the crash. Suppose you were taking medication already for chronic back pain due to a herniated disc. You suffer new back injuries in a crash and must begin physical therapy during your recovery. While you can most likely recover compensation for the physical recovery, you would not be compensated for the medication you have already been taking.
While this example is fairly straightforward, it can sometimes be difficult to separate which medical treatments are solely necessary due to the accident and which would have been needed regardless. The insurance company will try to use this to their advantage.
Aside from this general rule, you can still recover the same types of damages as you would be entitled to receive without a pre-existing condition. Depending on the details of your case, you may be entitled to financial compensation for:
- Reasonable medical expenses related to your accident. This includes expenses for injuries from the accident and the worsening of an existing condition.
- Lost wages during your recovery.
- Reduced earning capacity if your injuries leave you disabled and unable to return to your job.
- Non-economic damages which may include mental anguish, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
At Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, your injury lawyer will help you understand the types of damages you may be entitled to recover and the effects your pre-existing condition may have on your injury case.
Contact Stephens Law Firm, PLLC For Help Fighting For Compensation For Aggravated Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident
Any personal injury claim can be complex, especially cases that involve serious injuries or disability. Car accident claims involving pre-existing conditions are particularly complicated. The insurance company will try to use your medical history and health against you. A Fort Worth personal injury law firm can help you protect your legal rights and pursue the fair compensation you deserve.
Have you been seriously injured in a car accident that has worsened your health? Contact Jason Stephens, a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer, at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You do not pay any out-of-pocket attorney’s fees and no costs at all unless Stephens Law Firm, PLLC recovers for you.