Personal Injury Settlements – Does a Prior Injury Affect My Claim?
Problem: You Have Previous Health Issues
If you’ve been in an accident, and are seeking treatment, you are entitled to file a personal injury or bodily injury claim with the insurance company of the person who caused your injuries.
Sadly, many insurance companies make their money by denying claims and/or offering the lowest possible settlement amounts. So do not be surprised if the insurance adjuster comes up with reasons why their company should not have to pay for your damages and medical treatments.
One of the most common reasons for offering a low settlement or denying a claim is that you have been in previous accidents or have previous health problems. The adjuster will try to claim your current injuries and pain are caused by issues you had before the accident. They might even send you to an independent medical examiner, who (because they are working for the insurance company) will be encouraged to say the same.
But don’t worry – there is help!
Solution: Talk to Your Medical Providers and Hire an Attorney
The best way to show that your previous issues are not the same as before the accident is to mention your concerns to your medical providers. If your doctor is aware that you had previous back problems, but now the pain is worse and you also have neck problems (for example) that will be in the medical records.
In many circumstances, the adjuster is grasping at small reasons not to pay your fair settlement, and the medical records will clearly show that your accident injuries are very different from your previous health problems. For example, before the accident you might have had carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrist, but after the accident your arm was broken – yes, this is the same area but the injuries are extremely different.
When the injuries are not as apparently separate, such as a back injury that has been exacerbated by the accident, you will need to work with your providers to pinpoint the exact locations and details of the injury. For example, if you have lower back problems before the accident, and lower back problems after the accident, you are going to need to tell your doctor if the pain is worse, what activities you can no longer perform, how the new injury has affected your life, what types of activities affect the injury, etc. For example, your lower back may have hurt occasionally before, but if after the accident you can no longer work a full shift at your place of employment, this is a significant change that you should receive compensation for.
Sadly, it can be very difficult to make insurance companies see these differences between previous and current injuries. In many cases, it can benefit you to hire a personal injury attorney to tell your story for you. They understand the legal language and know how to use medical records to your advantage. If you know you have previous injuries that could complicate your claim, call an attorney for your free evaluation to voice your concerns.