Previous Conditions and Personal Injury Claims
A pre-existing condition or previous injury can significantly affect the value of a personal injury claim. Depending on the relationship between the previous condition and the new injury, and on the examining doctor’s opinion, the claim can be positively or negatively impacted.
If a client has a pre-existing condition and they sustain a new but similar injury because of someone’s negligent behavior, they should consult a personal injury lawyer Milwaukee WI relies on. In this blog post injury victims can learn how a previous injury might affect their current claim.
A pre-existing condition can make some claims worth more because an aggravated injury can be more painful and complicated to treat than the original injury. In the legal field, the “eggshell plaintiff” theory holds that a defendant must take the plaintiff as-is. As an example, if a person with brittle bones is hit by a car, the driver cannot reduce his or her liability by arguing that a normal person’s injuries would have been less severe. If a victim’s treating physician will attest to the existence of a pre-existing condition, and that all subsequent treatment is related to the current injury, the client may be able to recover for all medical expenses even though they are likely to be higher than those of a person without a pre-existing injury.
Pre-existing injuries and conditions can make claims worth less because they can cast doubt on treatment. For instance, if a person regularly sees a chiropractor because they have a significant amount of work-related back pain, and they continue to see the same doctor after an auto accident, the other driver’s insurance adjuster will doubt the legitimacy of a claim. The at-fault party’s insurer may allege that the victim used the accident as a reason to over-treat a previous injury, or that only a portion of treatment was related to the auto accident. When an insurance company questions a claim’s legitimacy, it can greatly decrease the claim’s value.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Because of the higher likelihood of a claim denial, many victims seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney after a pre-existing condition is worsened by someone’s negligent conduct. Such cases are often complex, and in most instances, a medical expert is the only person who can differentiate between previous and current damage.
An injury lawyer can financially assess the victim’s pain, suffering, medical bills, lost earnings capacity, and loss of companionship. They can then present the evidence and a demand letter to the insurance company.
If an accident victim has a pre-existing injury, the best thing he or she can do is to find an attorney who has experience pursuing similar claims. Following that, the victim should ask the medical provider to draft a letter stating which treatments apply to each set of injuries. It is vital to consult a lawyer early in the claims process, so the attorney can ensure that the client is treated fairly during negotiations.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hickey & Turim SC for their insight into pre-existing injuries and personal injury cases.