Will a Pre-Existing Condition Hinder a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Kentucky?
In theory, having a pre-existing injury should not negatively impact your personal injury claim. However, insurance companies are notorious for using any excuse to devalue a claim or deny benefits, including a client’s pre-existing conditions. It is important to understand your rights as a claimant during an injury claim in Louisville. You may need assistance from a personal injury lawyer to help you with the claims process if you have a pre-existing condition.
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition? What Are Common Examples?
A pre-existing condition can refer to any medical condition that you were diagnosed with prior to filing your personal injury claim. This includes injuries, illnesses, diseases, disorders and genetic conditions. Common examples include:
- Neck pain
- Back injuries
- Degenerative disk disease
- Disk herniation
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Previously healed injuries, such as broken bones
- Prior concussions or other brain injuries
- High blood pressure
- Mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety
If you have any of these pre-existing conditions in your medical records, prepare for a more difficult insurance process. An insurance company may try to use it against you.
Does a Pre-Existing Condition Bar You From Recovery?
No, the presence of a pre-existing injury does not automatically bar you from financial recovery in Kentucky. Having a pre-existing injury or condition does not mean that the recent accident did not affect you. While you cannot recover financial compensation for the pre-existing injury by itself, you can recover for the extent to which the accident made your pre-existing injury worse (known as aggravating or exacerbating the injury).
The legal doctrine that deals with pre-existing injuries is the Eggshell Skull Rule. This rule states that a defendant has a duty to take a plaintiff as he or she is at the time of the accident. This means that even if the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition that made him or her more prone to serious injuries or losses than the average person, the defendant will be responsible for paying for the plaintiff’s full extent of damages.
How Do Insurance Companies Handle Pre-Existing Injuries?
Whether or not your pre-existing condition affects your current injuries, an insurance company may try to use it to avoid giving you a large payout. The insurance company may try to allege that the injuries you are including on your claim were pre-existing, for instance. You may need evidence that proves that the accident aggravated your pre-existing injury, such as medical records, a letter from your doctor, photographs and videos, statements from eyewitnesses, and medical expert testimony.
It is important not to hide or conceal any pre-existing conditions during a personal injury lawsuit in Kentucky. Failing to report your pre-existing injury to the insurance company could constitute insurance fraud, effectively barring you from financial recovery and even putting you at risk of criminal charges. Rather than concealing your condition, report it to the insurer upfront and support your case with relevant medical records.
It is also important not to sign anything given to you by the insurance company before bringing it to an attorney, including anything called a Medical Record Release Form or something similar. Medical authorization release forms often apply to a client’s entire medical history, giving the insurance company the ability to search for pre-existing conditions that are not relevant to the current case. Before signing these forms, consult with an attorney for a free case review.
How Can an Attorney Help if You Have a Pre-Existing Injury?
Expect complications during your personal injury claim if you have a pre-existing condition. The insurance company may try to wrongfully deny your claim based on a previous injury or illness, or it may underestimate your current losses. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process, prove that an accident exacerbated a pre-existing injury and fight for maximum financial compensation on your behalf. Contact an attorney from the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery today for assistance with your claim.