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How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Affect My Car Accident Settlement in Virginia?

If you have a pre-existing condition yet have recently been in a car accident or any other type of accident caused by a wrongdoer  that exacerbated your current symptoms or created new injuries, you may be wondering if those pre-existing conditions will affect your settlement. Rest assured, you are entitled to fair insurance compensation even with a prior injury. However, you will need an experienced car accident attorney in Southwest Virginia to help you navigate this slippery slope.

How Do Pre-Existing Injuries Affect My Car Accident Settlement in Virginia?

Check out the things you need to know about building a strong injury claim.

Insurance Adjusters

Most personal injury claims tend to be settled through the insurance company of the at-fault person. Whether your claim arises from a car accident, slip and fall, or work-related injury, insurance adjusters will always try to pay out as little as possible. It’s their job to save their company money.

If you have either a chronic medical condition or pre-existing injury, the adjuster will likely say that your injuries were not caused by their insured. This doesn’t mean you have to blindly accept what the adjust says. If you know this is not true, it’s time to fight for your rights, whether these new injuries have aggravated your previous injuries or they are brand new and separate injuries.

Disclose Prior Injuries

We don’t have much control over when accidents occur and how serious they end up being. Often, new injuries can overlap pre-existing injuries. If you decide to file an insurance claim for the new injuries, it’s always wise to disclose your prior injuries to the adjuster right away. But how you tell them about those prior injuries can make or break the claim.

From the start, your Roanoke auto accident attorney must convey to you the importance of disclosing any previous injuries, despite how dissimilar they are to your current injuries. If you fail to disclose any pre-existing injuries, particularly those affecting the same part of your body, you lose credibility and risk the value of the claim.

In addition, when you minimize the impacts of a serious prior injury, the insurance adjuster or the jury could question the legitimacy of your current injuries. As a result, they may not consider that you may have had no history of treatment or complaints for many years, in effect saying that the current accident was the source of your injuries.

The Egg-Shell Plaintiff

A preexisting injury could cause you to be in a weakened condition, causing you to become more susceptible to injury, leading to aggravation of the condition. Consequently, the driver who hit you could say they won’t pay for extra medical bills because you have pre-existing injuries. Lucky for you, the “eggshell” or “thin-skull” rule applies, which in effect says that  driver is still responsible for the full extent of the injuries they have caused, despite how fragile you already were when the accident happened.

It won’t matter if the average person would likely have sustained less severe injuries in a similar accident. Bottom line is, if a driver caused an injury through negligence, the driver has to pay for it.

Comparing Medical Records

Your Roanoke car accident law firm can compare your past medical records and diagnostic tests with your current ones in order to verify exactly how the accident made your preexisting condition worse. Medical experts can testify to the court as to how the accident impacted and worsened your condition, based on x-rays or MRIs taken months or years apart.

The medical expert can also utilize clinical records to compare your degree of pain, the extent of care, or a disability both before and after the accident. If you have suffered a permanent disability, a part of which is attributed to the prior injury, a medical witness can portion out the extent of the disability that was made worse by the accident. This testimony will affect the amount of medical costs that you may be awarded.

By quickly and fully disclosing preexisting injuries, and by arguing that the injuries weakened your condition and made them more susceptible to new injuries, your auto accident lawyer in Southwest Virginia can compare medical records and use prior injuries to your distinct advantage. They are then able to recover the appropriate amount of damages to which you are entitled.

Contact Altizer Law, P.C.

If you have been in an accident and need legal advice, we welcome you to call us right away at 540-345-2000 for your free, no-obligation consultation