After a car accident in Miami, you may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury claim. The at-fault driver may be liable for your medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. But what about pre-existing medical conditions? How is your personal injury claim or lawsuit affected?
Injuries from car accidents can aggravate or exacerbate pre-existing conditions, which may prolong your healing and recovery process, or otherwise complicate your health.
Recovery may take longer, possibly much longer, than it would have if you did not have the already existing condition. Many people who are involved in a car accident, bicycle accident, pedestrian accident, slip and fall accident, or construction accident ask us if they can still receive money in a personal injury claim, as they may not fully heal from injuries due to the preexisting conditions.
Fortunately, the law allows you to still recover compensation following a Miami car accident if you had a pre-existing condition. However, these can be challenging cases to resolve and may involve resistance from insurance companies.
A knowledgeable and experienced Miami car accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and the compensation you deserve. Contact Miami car accident lawyer Boris Lavent at (305) 257-9464 to discuss your case today.
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
Some of the pre-existing conditions people report following a Miami car accident, slip and fall accident, or construction accident, include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Previously broken bones
- Heart murmurs
- High blood pressure.
You will need to disclose your pre-existing conditions, and your disclosure should match your medical record.
What Does Your Pre-Existing Condition Mean For Your Personal Injury Claim?
In some cases, a pre-existing condition could mean your personal injury claim resolves for more, and in other cases, it could mean your personal injury claim could resolve for less. It just depends on how your injuries affect you.
If your accident aggravates a condition you already had, you may receive more than an otherwise healthy person would.
However, if you have a pre-existing condition already, you won’t be able to recover compensation beyond healing to your maximum medical improvement with that injury.
Pre-existing conditions can be complex. Speak with a lawyer as soon as possible about what kind of compensation you may be entitled to.
Pre-Existing Injuries and “Eggshell Plaintiffs”
If you have pre-existing conditions, it’s better to deal with your claim sooner than later. Any delays in reporting or treating will be analyzed later, and may be used as points to pay you out as little as possible.
First-year law students taking a torts class learn about “eggshell plaintiffs” or “the eggshell theory,” which applies to pre-existing conditions. This legal theory, based on a 1940 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court, states that the defendant is responsible for your injuries, no matter how fragile you are.
Insurance companies will place a lot of focus on your pre-existing condition and may use your injury to instill fear and doubt. If you suffered severe injuries in an accident that someone else might have suffered moderate injuries, you are still entitled to compensation, as you are.
Damages Available For Exacerbated or Aggravated Pre-Existing Injuries
If the body part you injured in your accident has been injured before, you will need to disclose this in your personal injury claim. The insurance company cannot blame you for your accident or previous injuries.
- Medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Physical disfigurement and scarring
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
Just because you are more susceptible to injury does not mean you should be paid less. However, if you are untruthful to the insurance company, your claim may be denied, and the burden of proving your injuries placed on you.
Watch Out For Insurance Company Tactics To Use Pre-Existing Conditions to Devalue Your Claim
Insurance companies are very profitable businesses. As drivers, we purchase insurance because it’s required to drive. When you are involved in an accident, your needs shift. Whether you are dealing with another drivers’ insurance company or your own insurance company in an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim, you need much more than an affordable premium, you need fair compensation.
Many people are unaware of the strategies and approach insurance adjusters use to protect the company’s bottom line and goal of paying you as little as possible.
Assuring You They Will Be Fair
Insurance company adjusters are friendly, empathetic, and great listeners. They will not interrupt you, especially if you are talking about your injuries and pre-existing conditions. If liability is apparent based on the facts of the accident they may be quick to accept responsibility.
When they present a low-ball offer, they will assure you of their promise of fairness and state that the offer is the highest they can do. Unless the offer is for the full policy limits, it is not the highest available.
Having You Provide a Recorded Statement
The insurance claims adjuster may ask you for a recorded statement as part of their information-gathering process. You are not required to provide a recorded statement.
Adjusters are trained to ask speculative and leading questions that can make you look less credible or even deceptive. If you have already provided a recorded statement, do not despair.
Until you’ve accepted a settlement, you can still hire a lawyer to represent you at any point.
Offering You a Quick Settlement
The quick settlement offer is a tried and true insurance company negotiation tactic. Although a few thousand dollars may feel like a solution, it is only temporary.
Whether your injuries are mild, moderate, severe, or catastrophic, your compensation should fully cover your current and future medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. In the immediate days following an accident, it is impossible to calculate how your injuries will affect you.
It is important to remember that insurance adjusters are expert negotiators. They are friendly and empathetic because this builds trust. When they offer you a settlement for your injuries, your trust in their assurance will make you more likely to accept a compensation offer.
How Insurance Companies Use Pre-Existing Conditions To Pay You Less
Insurance companies love to focus on pre-existing conditions and your prior medical history. Showing a high level of concern about your prior injury will lead you to believe you aren’t entitled to compensation for injuries when you have had a pre-existing injury. This is simply not the case.
When you call and report an accident, the adjuster will likely ask you about ever having prior pain in that area before. A prior injury, even many years ago as a child, will lay the groundwork for the adjuster to convince you to accept a low settlement offer. Pre-existing injuries also become a point of possible dispute later, as the insurance company may suggest you were deceptive in reporting your prior injury, either exaggerating or downplaying.
Pre-existing conditions complicate claims. When you suffer two accidents within a period of a few days, it can be extremely challenging to separate what accident caused what injury, especially if the same part of your body is affected.
If you have a prior injury, you need to be extremely cautious in how you disclose your injury to the insurance company. Yes, your injuries need to be disclosed, and you need to be truthful, but you must be accurate. Insurance company adjusters, who are incentivized to award low settlements, may use your pre-existing conditions as a means to devalue your claim and discredit you.
Time Is Of The Essence After a Miami Car Accident
Hiring an experienced attorney can give you the best opportunity to recover fair compensation for your injuries. Under Florida’s statute of limitations, you have up to four years from the date of your accident to file a claim for personal injuries. However, the longer you wait, the more challenging your case may become. Minors who are under age 18 when an accident occurs will have seven years from the date of their injury to file a claim.
The best way to avoid barred claims and further delays in your case is to bring the matter to the attention of a reputable Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident.
Call Our Miami Car Accident Law Firm, We’ll Fight to Recover Compensation for Pre-Existing Conditions
Miami personal injury lawyer Boris Lavent has handled many complex personal injury claims involving pre-existing conditions. He and his team have a history of successful case results in Miami personal injury claims.
Lavent Law Personal Injury Lawyer offers a free consultation to review your potential case and answer your questions. If we represent you, we will fight for the maximum compensation available, including pre-existing conditions you had prior to a car accident.
Call us today to speak about your car accident pre-existing condition personal injury claim. We handle cases in Miami and throughout South Florida, including Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Other Car Accident Cases We Cover
- Rollover accidents
- Seat belt injuries
- Rear-end collision settlement
- Hit and run accidents
- Road defects