Car accidents are quite common. In fact, you’re more likely to die from a car accident – a 1 out 572 chance over the course of your lifetime – than from a dog bite, a 1 out of 115,111 chance (Insurance Information Institute, 2017).
At some point in a person’s lifetime, it is likely they will be a victim of a nonfatal auto accident. Medical compensation is often then provided if the victim suffers from injuries resulting from the accident.
Yet, what happens if they are suffering from a pre-existing condition? According to an October 2018 study from Avalere, a national health care research and consulting firm, 102 million Americans are suffering from pre-existing conditions. That’s one American out of every three. If you have a pre-existing condition and have recently been in a car accident, there is a good chance your condition could significantly change the outcome of your insurance claim.
After all, the insurance companies could claim that your condition impairs your ability to drive, or assume that you were already suffering from your condition prior to the occurrence of the car accident.
The only way to prevent this from happening is to arm yourself with plenty of information regarding your medical issue.
What is a pre-existing condition?
A pre-existing condition is any injury or illness that you have before filing your claim (or beginning a new health insurance plan).
Most of the time, these issues are long-term. Examples of pre-existing conditions include:
- Hereditary disease
- Bones that have been previously broken
- Sleep Apnea
- Herniated Discs
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
Why a pre-existing condition can result in the denial of your claim.
If you have a pre-existing condition, your insurer may use it against you by claiming that the condition itself, not the car accident, has caused your injury.
If your condition was aggravated by the car accident, your insurer may only provide you with a minimal amount of compensation, claiming that the car accident was minor.
How to claim the settlement you need if you have a pre-existing condition.
Be honest and open about your pre-existing injury/injuries. While it may be first instinct to hide any old injuries received – you may fear that you will lose a huge portion or all of your settlement – withholding any information may actually negatively impact your case, potentially causing you to lose any settlement that would have been originally yours. If you are dishonest, your credibility will be shot and anything further that you say in support of your claim or case will be considered incredible.
Utilize your medical records. If you have a pre-existing condition, you will be able to strengthen your case with your medical records. Be sure to contact your medical providers and request your medical records. If you have access to your records online, print and store them in a safe place. It may also help to obtain written notes from your providers.
Additionally, ensure that the medical professionals document any changes to your condition, additional injuries/aggravations, and more, since that may be your key to a successful claim.
State all current medical issues. Like the nondisclosure of any prior injuries, nondisclosure of current medical conditions to either your car accident attorney or insurance company can negatively impact your claim. After all, you are still likely to be compensated, especially when the medical condition has worsened with the accident.
Stay proactive and seek a personal injury attorney!
If you happen to be one of every three Americans who have a pre-existing condition and have become a victim in a car accident, know that you can receive full compensation for your injuries. However, your insurer may use your pre-existing condition against you, arguing that you’ve already had the injuries you received during your car accident or that the accident did little to harm you.
Keep in mind to document everything, from current medical conditions to previous injuries and illnesses. Do not hide anything from your insurer. And, of course, make sure to consult a personal injury attorney so that they can prosecute your case.