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How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Affect Car Accident Claims?

October 16, 2023

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Car accidents can cause just about any type of injury imaginable. It’s common for crash victims to suffer everything ranging from deep cuts and broken bones to traumatic brain injuries and internal organ damage. When victims are hurt in crashes, they can use their doctors’ diagnoses of their injuries to get compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, it’s also common for car accident victims to suffer injuries to parts of their bodies that were already hurt because of previous accidents, injuries, or illnesses. Although the pain of these injuries may be extreme, getting compensation for them is often more difficult, especially if there’s already evidence of them in their medical records. Because they already existed, insurance companies often refuse to pay for them—even if the crashes made them worse.

If you were recently hurt in a crash, here’s what to know if it aggravated a pre-existing injury. 

Tell Your Doctor About Your Pre-Existing Injuries

It’s important to tell your doctor about your pre-existing injuries when you’re being treated after a crash, especially if the accident aggravated them. Insurance adjusters work hard to find ways to reduce or deny victims compensation after crashes, and one of the most common ways they do it is by claiming victims’ injuries are pre-existing. That’s because pre-existing injuries aren’t covered in car accident claims, but pre-existing injuries that are worsened during crashes can be.

For example, suppose an insurance adjuster finds your medical records and discovers you injured your shoulder four years ago and received treatment. In that case, they may be highly skeptical of your claim if you cite a shoulder injury in your car accident claim. They may assume you’re trying to get money for an injury suffered at another time and under different circumstances. However, if you’re upfront about your pre-existing injury with your doctor, your honesty can help protect your rights to compensation.

The At-Fault Party May Be Liable for the Worsening of Your Existing Injuries 

Suppose a car accident aggravates or exacerbates your pre-existing injury. In that case, the at-fault party may be liable for your worsened condition and any new injuries you suffered. This means you can seek compensation for the additional harm or pain and suffering caused by the accident.

However, you’ll need to prove that the crash worsened your existing injury to the point where it requires additional medical treatment, keeps you out of work, or is causing significant pain. Your doctor may be able to help you prove the crash worsened your pre-existing injury and that the pain and disability you’re experiencing are substantial enough to deserve compensation.

The Aggravation of Pre-Existing Injuries Can Be Debilitating

Car accidents can injure just about any part of the body, including healthy and strong ones. When victims with pre-existing injuries are involved in crashes, they may suffer much more severe pain and complications than those without pre-existing injuries because the affected body parts were already weakened or still healing when re-injured.

The more severe the injury, the more compensation it typically requires. For example, if someone who suffered a herniated disc while working six months prior is involved in a crash, not only will their healing progress be lost, but the severity of their injury may be much worse than it was initially. Now, they may go from having only experienced pain while sitting or bending over to being unable to walk or even sleep without experiencing extreme pain.

Victims like these often require extensive physical therapy and even surgery to get relief. They also may be unable to work for weeks or months while they undergo treatments and allow their bodies to heal. The amount of money they need to pay for their medical treatments and lost wages may be significant, and it can be difficult to obtain without the help of an experienced lawyer.

Our Ohio Car Accident Lawyers Help Victims Get the Money They Need

Unfortunately, discovering pre-existing injuries is often a “jackpot” moment for insurance adjusters. No matter how seriously victims are injured—or how seriously their accidents aggravate their pre-existing injuries—adjusters often attempt to dismiss their claims because they say their injuries originated elsewhere.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we know this is simply a tactic adjusters use to protect their companies’ profits. Legally, it doesn’t hold up when victims with pre-existing injuries become profoundly injured and even disabled in crashes that weren’t their fault. When we take on claims from crash victims with pre-existing injuries, we understand their unique challenges and the severity of their pain and suffering.

Contact us today for a free case review. Your pre-existing injuries shouldn’t stop you from getting the money you deserve after a car accident.

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