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The Accident Made a Pre-Existing Condition Worse: Do I Still Have a Claim?

by | Mar 12, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Car accidents are costly, especially when injuries are involved. For that reason, insurance companies will do everything they can to devalue or discredit your claim. What happens if you had a pre-existing condition that flared up as a result of the crash? The answer is that you can still seek compensation for damages that resulted directly from the accident, and an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston or San Antonio can help.

The Accident Made a Pre-Existing Condition Worse: Do I Still Have a Claim?

Yes. According to Texas law, you can still claim damages, even if you had a pre-existing condition at the time of the crash. The tricky part will be proving that the accident caused a relapse independent of other factors. Anytime you are injured in car crash, it is essential that you work with a personal injury attorney. He or she can help work through the complexities of the situation and protect you from the insurance company’s tactics.

Personal injury is an intricate part of the law, but it gets even more complicated when you have a pre-existing condition. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get fair compensation for your suffering. It just means there are a few extra steps that need to be taken to back your case.

You’ve Been Injured – What’s Next?

Get Medical Treatment Immediately

The most important thing to do when you have been injured is to get the medical attention you need. Even if you think you will be ok on your own, you should still go to the hospital. That creates a record of your new injuries and the aggravation done to old ones.

To receive compensation, you will need to demonstrate that your pre-existing conditions had stabilized prior to the crash. Going to the hospital can create test results and physician testimonies that might be helpful for the purposes of comparison when you go up against the insurance company.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

As soon as you are safe and have received medical treatment, it’s time to get in touch with an attorney. He or she can guide you on the process of documenting the accident and submitting your claim.

How Does the Law Treat Pre-Existing Conditions?

It is important to understand how the law sees pre-existing conditions. Having the right knowledge will help you make decisions as you recover and when you start to interact with the insurance company that is responsible for compensating you.

Defining a Pre-Existing Condition

A pre-existing condition is a medical problem that initiated before the accident in question occurred. It could be a disease, such as cancer or diabetes. It could also be an injury, such as a herniated disc or a traumatic brain injury. Some conditions are more likely that others to worsen as a result of a crash.

The Eggshell Skull Doctrine

According to The Eggshell Skull Doctrine, you have the same right to fair compensation as those who do not have a pre-existing condition. Even if your condition made you more likely to get injured, the liable party still has to pay. While some insurance companies might try to argue that you were responsible for being extra careful in light of your pre-existing condition, that is not true. Working with an attorney can help you see through these attempts at manipulation.

What Gets Compensated

According to the law, you can be compensated for expenses related to medical issues that you would not have experienced had it not been for the crash. That means that while you cannot receive money for the aspects of your pre-existing condition that predated the crash, you should receive a payout to cover new problems that resulted from someone’s negligence.

For example, imagine you had a back injury and were seeing a physical therapist for it. Before the crash, you had five physical therapy appointments scheduled. After the crash, your injury worsened, and you needed to schedule an additional three. You should receive compensation for the three new appointments, but not the total eight.

The Importance of Mitigation

One thing that you should be aware of is the fact that the law holds you responsible for mitigating your injuries. That means that if you allow an injury to get worse after the crash, the other party is not responsible for paying for the additional medical treatment you need as a result.

The Statute of Limitations

Legally, the statute of limitations is the time frame in which you must file a claim to receive compensation. It specifies that you must do so within two years of the accident. However, there are certain situations that extend the statute of limitations. In the case of pre-existing conditions, you may have longer than two years if it took some time to realize that the condition was aggravated.

What Types of Expenses Can Be Compensated?

When you seek compensation for a pre-existing condition that got worse after an accident, you can claim the same expenses as you would for a new injury. They include:

Medical Bills

One of the most important expenses that should be covered is the medical attention you need to recover. That includes:

  • Trips to the ER
  • Ambulance rides
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Medical devices
  • Surgery
  • Follow-up appointments and treatment

Lost Wages

You can claim lost wages for time you took off work after the crash if your pre-existing condition would not have prevented you from doing it otherwise. The amount is determined according to the hours you lost multiplied by your hourly wage. If you are salaried, your salary will first be converted into an hourly wage.
An experienced attorney will go to great lengths to determine and fight for the full extent of your financial losses.

That means accounting for jobs that you might have missed as a freelancer, bonuses you did not receive, and promotions you did not get. It can even include unearned vacation time and other benefits.

Reduced Earning Capacity

If you are never able to return to work, or if you need to permanently reduce your workload, an attorney can help you claim reduced earning capacity. Estimating the amount you lost can be complicated, so having a legal professional by your side is especially important.

Pain and Suffering

Even certain damages that do not have an obvious monetary value can be compensated under certain conditions. Emotional as well as physical damage is included in the category of general damages. The value that is put on suffering is highly subjective, and insurance companies tend to offer less in their settlement offers than you would receive in a jury trial. Therefore, it is important to work with an attorney who can help you argue for what you really deserve.

Wrongful Death

If your loved one died as a result of his or her pre-existing conditions being aggravated in an accident, you and your family deserve to be compensated for your loss. Our lawyers will work with you to investigate what happened and what damages should be included in your settlement.

We Serve Houston, San Antonio, and Beyond

After you have been injured in a car accident, you can increase your chances of getting a fair settlement by working with an attorney.  Having one or more pre-existing condition makes it even more important to get the legal support you need. If you are currently looking for an experienced, compassionate personal injury attorney in San Antonio or Houston, contact Joe A. Gamez Law Firm, PLC.