Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

When you are injured in a car accident in Baltimore, you may be entitled to damages if someone else’s negligence caused you to get hurt. However, keep in mind that insurance companies employ teams of skilled attorneys and claims adjusters who work to reduce payouts. The more serious your injuries, the harder they will work to limit or even deny your claim. 

One of the most common tactics insurance companies use is claiming that a victim had a pre-existing condition which should not be covered. 

This does not mean you are not entitled to compensation. You should not be penalized for a pre-existing condition such as a prior back injury which may be worsened by injuries you sustain in an accident. 

Our experienced car accident lawyer in Baltimore will serve as your advocate during the claims process. We will fight the insurance companies for you and seek the full compensation you deserve. During your initial free consultation, we will review your case and help you decide the best course of action. 

What Is a Pre-Existing Condition? 

Car accident on the highway

In the context of a car accident, a pre-existing condition is one affecting the same bodily system or area of the body injured in the crash. In an accident, the at-fault party is responsible for paying for the damages the victim sustained in the crash. The goal is to make the injured party as healthy and whole as he or she was before the crash. 

An at-fault driver is not responsible for compensating a victim for injuries they did not cause. 

It’s common for accident victims to have a pre-existing condition that was affected by the accident. The victim can still be compensated for their additional medical expenses, pain, and suffering. 

Common pre-existing conditions in car accident cases include: 

  • Arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, muscle strains and other back injuries
  • Heart conditions
  • Hernia
  • Brain injuries
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Shoulder and knee injuries

To demonstrate how a pre-existing condition can affect your injury claim, imagine you have lived with chronic back pain for years. While it sometimes limits what you can do, you’re able to work and enjoy your hobbies. In a car accident, you sustain a new back injury that leaves you with significant pain, an inability to return to work, and the need for surgery. 

In this case, you may be surprised when the insurance company offers an extremely low settlement. They may admit their policyholder was at fault but say you were already suffering from an existing back injury. 

If your condition was worsened by a car accident, you still have the right to recover compensation. It’s important to seek experienced legal counsel from a personal injury lawyer in Maryland. Pre-existing conditions are often very contested elements of a claim. 

Maryland’s Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine

The “eggshell skull doctrine” can be used to illustrate how pre-existing conditions should be treated in an injury case. According to this doctrine, the defendant can’t choose the plaintiff or their health and must take them as they are. It doesn’t matter if the victim had a skull as thin and fragile as an eggshell; the defendant is still responsible for the harm they caused. 

Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, it does not matter if:

  • Someone else would not have suffered injuries as severe as you did, 
  • You were particularly vulnerable to injury, or
  • The at-fault party did not know about your pre-existing condition

You cannot be denied compensation just because your existing condition made you more vulnerable to being injured. 

To recover compensation after an accident, you will need to show your pre-existing condition was stable at the time of the crash and there was no reason to believe your condition would seriously worsen before the accident. 

To recover compensation after an accident, you will need to show your pre-existing condition was stable at the time of the crash and there was no reason to believe your condition would seriously worsen before the accident. 

Pre-Existing Conditions Should Be Disclosed

If you were in an accident that aggravated or worsened a pre-existing condition, disclose the condition to your Baltimore car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your condition should also be disclosed to the insurance adjuster. 

Just be aware that how you disclose your pre-existing injuries is very important to protect your claim. 

After your accident, the insurance company will request a recorded statement. The insurance company will look for statements and facts it can use against you. A pre-existing condition is typically a target as the insurer may claim you were not actually hurt in the accident. 

It’s crucial to be honest about your pre-existing injury because the insurance adjuster will request medical records and bills. They will look for medical information they can use against your claim. If you try to hide a pre-existing condition, it can come up during this investigation and damage your credibility and your claim. 

Proving Your Condition Was Aggravated

You will need to show that the car accident aggravated your pre-existing condition and you are not simply seeking compensation for an unrelated injury. This is why it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately after your accident. A physician can provide documentation to show that your pre-existing injury was aggravated or worsened by the crash. 

If possible, try to visit the same medical professionals who were treating your condition before the accident. They will best be able to document the progression of your symptoms and exactly how your condition was worsened. 

Follow-up care is also important as it may take weeks or longer to show the progression or aggravation of an injury on diagnostic imaging and other tests, if at all. This is why it’s also a good idea to keep a daily journal about your symptoms and how your life changed after the accident. Keep as much documentation as you can, including doctor’s notes that you were not cleared to return to work or perform certain activities. 

How Does a Pre-Existing Condition Affect Damages?

Your pre-existing condition does not limit your right to compensation in an accident. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is only responsible for paying for damages actually caused by the accident. They do not need to pay medical expenses you would have paid otherwise. 

For example, suppose you have degenerative disc disease and take a prescription daily for your pain. You sustain new back injuries in an accident that worsens your condition and you start physical therapy. You can likely recover damages for the cost of the therapy but not for the medication you were already taking.

Otherwise, the damages available in your case are the same as those that would be available regardless of your pre-existing injury. You may be entitled to damages for: 

  • Medical expenses, including anticipated future medical expenses, related to the injuries you sustained in the accident and the worsening of a pre-existing condition. This includes hospital and surgery bills, ambulance rides, physical therapy, counseling, medication, medical devices, and more.
  • Lost wages if you had to take time off work while recovering from your injury. 
  • Reduced earning capacity if your injuries have left you unable to return to work. 
  • Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disfigurement.

An experienced Baltimore car accident attorney at William G. Kolodner P.A. will review your case and help you understand the types of damages you may be entitled to and how your pre-existing condition may impact your claim.

We’re Here to Fight For Compensation For Your Aggravated Pre-Existing Injuries After a Car Accident in Baltimore

Even in a fairly uncomplicated car accident without pre-existing injuries, insurance companies seek to limit payouts through a variety of tactics. When you suffer injuries in an accident that worsens your health and existing condition, it’s likely that the insurance company will try to use your condition as an excuse to limit or deny your claim. 

An experienced personal injury attorney in Baltimore serves as your advocate to help you gather evidence and build a strong case against the insurance company. You did not choose to be involved in an accident and it’s not your fault that you were more susceptible to suffering a serious injury due to a pre-existing condition. 

The legal team at William G. Kolodner P.A. understands the tactics insurance companies and claims adjusters use to deny valid claims by victims. We will help you navigate the claims process, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and take your case to court if the insurance company won’t agree to a fair settlement. 

Contact William G. Kolodner P.A. today to schedule your free initial consultation and review your case.