It is a difficult position to be in if you have been involved in an accident while suffering from a pre-existing health condition. Not only is it often the case that the resulting injuries from the accident worsened your existing injury, but you also have to worry about whether a pre-existing condition will impact your case.
The good news is, people with pre-existing injuries or conditions have as much right as anyone to seek compensation when an accident caused them further injury. However, pre-existing conditions can complicate things and make it more difficult to reach a fair settlement. This is usually down to insurance companies, who commonly attempt to pass injuries from the accident off as pre-existing.
With an experienced lawyer with excellent personal injury knowledge and a good understanding of the Texas legal system by your side, you still stand a good chance of making a successful personal injury claim. Here at Abraham Watkins, we have just such a team.
To find out how we could help you, call us today for a free consultation. We will go into detail about what to expect from your case, all at no obligation and totally confidential under the attorney-client relationship.
Our lines are always open. Call 713-535-9319 today.
How is a Pre-Existing Condition Defined?
Usually, in America, we refer to a pre-existing condition as something that exists before starting a new healthcare plan. However, in the context of personal injury claims, it means a health problem that existed before the accident happened.
Pre-existing conditions encompass genetic problems, long-term diseases, physical injuries, and all medical condition and ailment types that impact your daily health or life.
Will a Pre-Existing Condition Impact Your Right to Claim?
No, in Texas, having a pre-existing condition or injury will not affect your right to obtain compensation.
This is thanks to the vividly-named eggshell skull rule. This rule states that the at-fault person is liable for the injuries they caused a person, even if this is not necessarily a new injury but instead a preexisting condition that was made worse by the accident.
The person whose wrongful actions were responsible for the accident does not need to know your pre-existing condition existed in order to be responsible for the increased level of injury.
What Happens if an Accident Aggravated a Pre-Existing Injury?
Let us take an example that uses common pre-existing injuries. One such common pre-existing condition would be an injured back. Such a condition may be caused by a herniated disc from a previous accident, or an illness like degenerative disc disease.
If this person was the injured party in a car accident, their medical condition or previous injuries would mean they would likely sustain more damage than a fully healthy person. Similarly, an existing brain injury could be made much worse by repeated head trauma.
Thanks to the eggshell skull rule, they could be entitled to more compensation than the fully healthy person would receive, if the accident aggravates their pre-existing back injury – as long as they had an experienced personal injury attorney to argue their case.
How Could an Insurance Company use Your Pre-Existing Condition Against You?
Unfortunately, there are some ways pre-existing conditions can make personal injury cases more difficult. This is usually the fault of an insurance company, who will often attempt all avenues to avoid paying fair compensation to protect their bottom line.
One way insurance companies do this is by attempting to pass the consequences of an accident off as unrelated pre-existing conditions. They try this with all types of people, but it can be significantly more difficult to disprove if you do have a pre-existing medical condition.
How to Stop Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Impacting Your Personal Injury Claim
The best way to fight this type of trickery from insurance companies is to arm yourself with an experienced personal injury attorney from a reputable law firm, like Abraham Watkins.
Another great way is to seek your complete medical history. With these medical records, your personal injury lawyer can demonstrate through the proof your of medical history that your injury claims stem from the accident in question.
Another way your personal injury lawyer can help in this situation is by providing an expert witness. In this case, expert witnesses are likely to be medical experts, who can testify using their professional knowledge. This is even more effective in conjunction with your full medical records.
How Else Could an Insurance Company Devalue Your Personal Injury Claim?
While we are on the subject, an insurance company may try other methods to negatively affect the value of your claim that do not relate to your previous conditions. It is important to know these too, and to always speak to a personal injury lawyer before talking to an insurance company.
They may try to:
- Take advantage of your shaken post-accident state to cause you to divulge unnecessary information to damage your claim
- Trick you into signing a document that implies you are the at-fault party in the accident
- Ask you to agree to a recorded interview
Never do any of these. You should also beware that an insurance company may claim that the damages caused to you are worth less due to your pre-existing condition in order to weaken your negotiating position. Do not believe them.
What Damages are Available in a Personal Injury Case Involving a Pre-Existing Injury?
The damages you could be entitled to with a pre-existing injury are the same as the damages from any other type of personal injury claim.
These will depend on the specifics of your case, especially how you were impacted and what complications you suffered as a result. Generally speaking, the more severe the complications, the higher your amount of fair compensation could be.
Damages commonly available include:
- Reimbursement of the cost of your medical bills
- Reimbursement of lost wages
- Coverage of future medical bills now necessary because of the accident
- Pain and suffering damages
- Compensation for emotional anguish
- Coverage of out-of-pocket expenses, such as public transport or childcare services you would not have had to use otherwise
- Loss of consortium or household services
- Property damage
- Wrongful death, if your loved one lost their life in an accident
The best way to find out which of these damages apply to your case is to contact an attorney from our law firm for a free legal consultation.
How Long do You Have to Make a Personal Injury Claim?
In Texas, you only have a limited amount of time after your accident to make a claim. This period of time is two years, and it is known as the statute of limitations.
The time period begins to expire on the exact date your accident occurred. Once two years have passed, you cannot recover compensation for your injuries through legal action if you have not made a claim.
Two years may sound like a lot of time. However, you still should not delay. If you waste time, key evidence could become lost or the rival legal teams of the negligent party or insurance companies can get an upper hand assembling their cases. If you are injured and it was not your fault, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
We Work on a Contingency Basis
Many Americans are under the unfortunate false impression that worthwhile legal representation is out of their price range. While it is true that many good lawyers are expensive, this is not always the case.
Here at Abraham Watkins, we firmly believe that financial justice after an accident should not just be possible for those who can afford it. That is why we conduct all of our personal injury work on a contingency basis.
This means that your case will be entirely no-win-no-fee. If your attorney guides you to success, their fees will only be taken as a percentage of your final settlement – with no upfront costs or hidden extra fees. If your case is not a success, the whole thing will cost you nothing at all.
Call Abraham Watkins Today
Pre-existing conditions affect millions of Americans, and they should not impact your right to compensation. That is why Abraham Watkins is here to support your personal injury case, whether you suffered your injuries in a car accident, a work accident, or in any other way.
Our personal injury lawyer team has more than 70 years of experience fighting for clients with both rare and common pre-existing conditions. We have the skills, knowledge, and compassion necessary to handle your case in a professional, encouraging, and determined way.
It all starts when you contact us for a free consultation. We will talk through the details of your case and give you an idea of how much compensation you could be entitled to and what the legal process will look like for you. All of this comes at no obligation, in an entirely confidential environment.If you would like to find out more about how a personal injury lawyer from our firm could help you, call 713-535-9319 today.