When an accident victim’s preexisting injury is aggravated in a car crash, he or she may wonder whether it will hurt his or her chances of securing compensation. However, a preexisting injury is less of a problem than certain missteps victims may make after the crash occurs.
Below, Goldberg Finnegan discusses common errors made by victims with preexisting injuries and how these missteps may damage their ability to seek compensation.
If you were involved in a collision caused by a negligent party and reinjured a preexisting condition, Goldberg Finnegan is ready to help. Our qualified car accident lawyers in Silver Spring have extensive experience handling a variety of car crash claims.
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Avoid These Mistakes That May Hurt Your Claim
Car crash victims with preexisting conditions often make these mistakes:
Not Filing a Claim
Some accident victims may decide not to file a claim, without even speaking to an attorney. They may believe their preexisting injury disqualifies them from being able to seek any compensation. While not every accident victim will have a valid case, at Goldberg Finnegan, it costs you nothing to speak with an attorney to learn about your eligibility.
Being Unaware of Insurance Company Tactics
Talking to the insurance company about your preexisting condition before you contact a lawyer can be a huge mistake. While you should never hide a preexisting condition, there is an appropriate time to provide this information. A qualified attorney knows this and can help you plan the right approach and even communicate with the insurer on your behalf. When victims tell insurance companies about their preexisting injuries before their lawyers, they may also:
- Sign a medical records release: Taking this step without an attorney may allow the insurance company to gain full access to all your medical history, including irrelevant records they can use as a basis to try to devalue or deny your claim. An attorney can help you determine the relevant records to provide to protect the full value of your claim.
- Accept a low settlement offer: Accident victims often believe what the insurance company tells them about a preexisting injury – insurers often say that disqualifies them from receiving compensation or severely limits any settlement they may receive. Victims may accept any low offer thinking it is better than nothing. Unfortunately, there is not much an attorney can do once a victim has signed a settlement agreement.
Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Care
Accident victims who fail to seek immediate medical attention, or forego all medical care after a crash, risk both their health and the chance to recover compensation. You could have sustained serious internal injuries without knowing it. Additionally, waiting days to weeks significantly hurts your claim by giving insurers room to argue that your injuries could have been caused by something besides the crash.
Speaking to an Attorney, But Withholding Information
Withholding information from your attorney limits his or her ability to obtain maximum compensation. Your lawyer needs to know about your preexisting injury to be prepared for it to come up. This is an issue that should be covered by attorney-client privilege, which means it is confidential and cannot be shared by your lawyer. The truth always comes out, so it is better to be upfront about it.
Seeking Compensation for a Preexisting Injury
The insurance company may say you cannot recover compensation because your preexisting injury made you more vulnerable to injury. However, under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, the insurance company must take the victim as it finds him or her. Your increased vulnerability does not limit your ability to recover compensation for a new injury. Whether a negligent individual knew about a victim’s vulnerability or not, if his or her actions caused the incident, he or she should be liable for any new damages that result.
If you have a preexisting condition, your lawyer will need to prove:
- Your preexisting injury or medical condition was worsened by the car crash
- But for the at-fault party’s negligence, you would not have sustained additional symptoms of injury and pain
How You Can Help Your Claim
We strongly recommend seeking legal help from an attorney who has previously handled this type of case and has a successful track record.
However, there are certain steps you can take to help protect your claim as well:
- Seek immediate medical care and tell the treating physician how your preexisting injury was made worse by the crash.
- Be honest about your new injuries – exaggerating could seriously damage your claim.
- Follow your attorney’s legal advice fully, as he or she understands how to best protect the value of your claim
Our Law Firm is Ready to Help After a Crash. Call Today
If you have a preexisting condition or injury that was made worse by a car crash caused by another’s negligence, we strongly recommend that you seek legal representation.
Our team of legal professionals at Goldberg Finnegan is prepared to help. We offer a zero-cost, risk-free case review to determine if you have legal options. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. In fact, we do not get paid our fees unless we recover compensation for you.