Many people who need the assistance of an Atlanta car accident lawyer are afraid that a pre-existing condition may get their claim denied. It is true, insurance companies will try to make the most of this unfortunate situation. They may even go as far as saying that you should not get any kind of compensation for medical costs. Of course, an experienced attorney will call their bluff and win your case in the end.
However, it is very important to understand the impact of a pre-existing condition on your car accident claim. As this is a further complication to an already complex matter, you should never try to file a claim on your own. Irrespective of the kind of condition you suffer from – be it an older injury or an autoimmune disease – the insurance adjuster will drastically devalue your claim, if not deny it altogether.
Understanding the Eggshell Skull Rule
Whenever insurers try to invoke a pre-existing condition as grounds to deny a claim, an Atlanta car accident lawyer will argue back with the eggshell skull rule. This legal principle, introduced by the Smith v Leech Brain & Co Ltd. case in 1962, states that a tortfeasor (the negligent party) must take the plaintiff as they are, i.e. even if they have an eggshell thin skull, they still owe them a duty of care.
Thus, the fact that you were already suffering from an injury or illness, does not mean that the at-fault driver can complain that your accident injuries were more serious than those a fully healthy person may have suffered.
Potential Pitfalls in a Car Accident Claim If You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
An Atlanta car accident lawyer knows that your claim will be challenged at every step. Insurance companies are fighting hard against paying claims. They will identify every single aspect they believe that they can use to deny or devalue your claim.
Here are just a few instances in which your pre-existing condition can make your case more challenging to win.
1. Failing to Disclose Your Pre-Existing Condition to Your Lawyer
You know that healthcare information is private and confidential and protected by HIPAA rules. However, this is not true when you reach the point of filing a claim against an insurance company for car accident injuries.
An insurance agent may trick you into signing a medical release form if you do not have an Atlanta car accident lawyer on your side. Old social media posts where you give updates about your illness or injury will be found. And, during a personal injury lawsuit, the opposing counsel has the right to obtain your medical records.
Thus, you cannot hide a pre-existing condition. Your best and only chance of getting the compensation amount you deserve is being honest with your lawyer.
2. Proving that the Accident Made Your Injuries Worse
How exactly can an insurance company be sure that you need specific medical care for accident injuries? What if you are simply following ongoing medical care, and now you want to make them pay for it?
An Atlanta car accident lawyer will bring your doctor as an expert witness and show comparative scans and other tests. The comparison will demonstrate that the trauma suffered as a result of the accident made your condition significantly worse.
No tactic of trying to understate your pain, suffering, and economic losses will be tolerated. A dedicated attorney will fight for your rights until they win the maximum compensation you deserve.
3. A Pause in Your Ongoing Treatment
This is another specific complexity of a car accident case when the accident victim suffers from a pre-existing condition. If you stopped your regular treatment prior to your accident, for various reasons, the insurance company will try to exploit this situation as much as they can.
Unless the pause was recommended by your doctor, this situation may lead to a reduced settlement amount.
4. Being Unaware of the Pre-Existing Condition
It is not unheard of for someone to go to the ER with car accident injuries and find out that they suffer from a serious condition like cancer, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. In most of these cases, an insurance adjuster, lacking any kind of empathy, will accuse you of lying. They will claim that you were perfectly aware that you were ill, but pretended to find out about it while receiving emergency care after the accident.
Any Atlanta car accident lawyer knows how hurtful this can be, especially for someone who has recently been told that they suffer from a life-threatening condition. However, with the help of medical records and your doctor’s statements, the lawyer can prove that you were not aware of your pre-existing condition.
How to Prepare for a Car Accident Claim
As you can see, people with pre-existing conditions have a harder time filing a car accident claim successfully. However, with proper legal representation, you will win the compensation amount you deserve.
Here is what you need to do:
- Make sure that your lawyer gets access to all relevant medical records.
- If necessary, accept an independent medical evaluation.
- Get a copy of your accident report to support the claim that the other driver was negligent.
- Do not start the claims process without the assistance of an Atlanta car accident lawyer.
Our Car Accident Law Firm Protects Your Rights and Your Dignity
At Diaz & Gaeta, we know how unfairly people with pre-existing conditions are treated by auto insurance companies. This is why we are here, to make sure that you get a fair settlement and that you are treated with the dignity you deserve during the entire claims process.
If we believe that you have a valid claim after the free case review, then we will fight to win the maximum compensation you deserve. Your pre-existing condition does not make the negligent driver less liable for your economic damages, pain and suffering. All we ask is for you to be completely honest and let us know of your old injury or illness.