The Truth about Prior Injuries and Your Accident Claim
It might seem like a dilemma. Perhaps you suffered prior injuries to your cervical spine. Then comes a car crash and your neck pain is beyond incredible. Should you tell your attorney about your preexisting issues? Just how are your prior injuries going to impact your accident claim?
First, you really should not hold back any information from your legal counsel. That includes any preexisting conditions. The truth almost always manages to surface. Better that your lawyer knows everything up front. An experienced personal injury attorney will then know how to proceed on your behalf.
Prior Injuries May Actually be Important to Your Claim
We mentioned that old injuries can become part of a case even if you attempt to hide them. In this world of increased automation, just about everything is on record. Here’s some ways that preexisting conditions become part of personal injury claims:
- Old injuries show up on diagnostic tests, such as x-rays
- Insurance companies have a master database of prior claims
- Medical records may reference prior injuries
- Workers’ compensation partial and total permanent awards are easily accessible
The fact that someone has a prior injury does not mean that they are precluded from making an accident claim. Most people who suffer from preexisting conditions can attest to their frustration. Perhaps they were finally pain free and the new accident made the condition return with a vengeance.
So, how are preexisting conditions handled with personal injury claims? Let’s first discuss the two ways a prior injury could be affected by a new accident:
- Condition could be aggravated: The preexisting condition becomes more severe as a result of a new accident. For example, someone suffering from degenerative disc disease may find their condition has worsened as a result of a new accident.
- Condition is exacerbated: The condition temporarily becomes worse as a result of an intervening accident. Ultimately, the prior injuries heal to return to the original condition. Consider someone who has a history of arthritis that is exacerbated as the result of an accident.
How are preexisting conditions evaluated when attempting to settle an accident claim? Medical records are assembled and provided to medical experts. Your attorney will have refer you to a medical expert to solicit an opinion concerning the effect of the accident on your overall condition. Likewise, the insurance company will require you to see their physician.
As experienced personal injury attorneys, the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo has handled many accident claims. This includes individuals with preexisting conditions. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your case with you. Contact us.