Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

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Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

When another driver causes a car accident in New York City, that driver can be held liable for damages under New York’s personal injury laws. However, can a driver be held liable for your pre-existing conditions if you are involved in a car accident? 

Insurance Companies Fight Accident Claims Involving Pre-Existing Conditions 

Pre-existing conditions can impact the outcome of a personal injury claim. Unfortunately, many people assume that they are not entitled to compensation for an injury claim if they have an existing injury or medical condition. 

Insurance companies would like you to believe that you are not entitled to recover compensation for pre-existing conditions. They can save money on personal injury cases by promoting that false assumption. 

Before you accept a settlement offer for a car accident, talk with a New York City personal injury lawyer. 

Make sure you understand the types of damages you are entitled to receive for a car accident claim. The insurance adjuster will not tell you if you are entitled to more money. Do not let the insurance company cheat you out of the compensation you deserve based on allegations of pre-existing conditions.

Do I Need to Disclose a Pre-Existing Condition?

Insurance adjusters often request that accident victims sign a medical records release form. This form allows the insurance company access to your entire medical history if you are not careful. The company searches your medical history for pre-existing conditions and prior accidents. 

The insurance company uses this information to argue that the car accident did not cause your current injury. The company then requires you to prove that your current injury was not the result of a pre-existing condition or a prior injury.

If you did not disclose the pre-existing condition, the insurance company might argue that you hid the injury or condition. In addition, it may allege that you should not be trusted when you testify about your current injuries, pain, and suffering.

A lawyer understands the best way to disclose your pre-existing condition or injury. They also understand how to protect you from insurance tactics designed to undervalue or deny your injury claim. 

Working With an Insurance Company When You Have a Pre-Existing Condition 

Dealing with insurance companies when you have a pre-existing condition can be challenging. Before answering questions, giving a statement, or signing any documents, it can be helpful to talk with a lawyer.

Some tactics that the insurance company may use to avoid paying the full value of your damages include:

Telling You That You Do Not Need a Lawyer 

The claims adjuster may tell you that you do not need an attorney because the company accepts responsibility for the accident and your injuries. He may say that he wants to help you get the money you deserve for your accident claim, and an attorney will merely charge you lots of money for something the two of you can handle together. 

Statements like these are designed to put you at a disadvantage by keeping you from seeking legal advice.

Tricks to Obtain Medical History

The claims adjuster may explain that the company only needs to verify your injuries before paying your claim. Therefore, you just need to sign the medical release form to get your money. 

Again, the company is searching for pre-existing conditions so it can deny your insurance claim. This tactic allows the insurance company to poke around in your medical history, searching for information it can use to lower the value of your claim or deny your injury claim. 

Dangers of a Recorded Statement

Adjusters may ask you to consent to a recorded statement. The adjuster is trained to ask leading questions to get responses that the company can use against you. 

Instead of sounding like an interrogation, the adjuster conducts the interview as if the two of you were friends discussing various topics while having coffee. The adjuster uses “small talk” to make you feel comfortable so you will disclose more information. 

Beware – insurance companies generally record all conversations, even if they do not disclose they are recording the call. 

The Quick Settlement Offer

The insurance company might realize that it could be liable for a large sum of money for your injury case. Therefore, it might offer you a quick settlement offer to entice you to sign a settlement agreement.

However, the settlement agreement you sign waives all rights to future claims. Therefore, when you realize that your damages were worth far more money or you need additional medical treatment, it is too late to hold the insurance company or the at-fault driver responsible for those damages. 

Talk with a car accident attorney before signing a settlement agreement.

Are You an Eggshell Plaintiff?

When dealing with a car accident case involving a pre-existing condition, you will likely hear about the eggshell plaintiff doctrine.

This legal theory requires the defendant in a personal injury case to accept the accident victim in an “as is” condition. In other words, you cannot be blamed for pre-existing conditions or prior injuries.

You have the right to recover compensation when a car accident aggravated your pre-existing conditions. You also have the right to receive compensation for injuries sustained in the accident, even though your pre-existing condition may have made you more susceptible to injuries (eggshell skull rule).

Examples of pre-existing conditions include:

  • Prior broken bones and fractures
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Concussions and brain damage
  • Back and neck injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • High blood pressure

Your personal injury case is likely to be complicated if you have a pre-existing condition. You can assume the insurance company will do everything it can to avoid paying your claim. 

However, honest and prompt disclosure of your pre-existing condition is essential. A personal injury attorney can help ensure that everything is handled correctly and in your best interest.

Damages and Deadlines in Accident Cases Involving Pre-Existing Conditions

Even though you have a pre-existing condition, you are still entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages caused by an accident. 

Damages might include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Permanent or temporary disability
  • Loss of income and benefits
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Wrongful death

New York gives accident victims three years to file most personal injury suits. Do not let the insurance company convince you that your prior injuries or current medical condition bar you from fair and just compensation for damages. The insurance company will be aggressive in pressuring you to accept a lower settlement amount than your case is worth. 

Contact Our New York City Personal Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation 

Call our law firm at (212) 564 2800 to request your free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys in New York City. 

We are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve after a negligent driver causes you harm. Our legal team works diligently on behalf of accident victims to hold an at-fault party responsible for the pain and suffering they caused.