How Pre-existing Conditions Can Affect an Injury Claim
POSTED BY Scott O’Sullivan
September 9, 2011
Car accidentsinsurance companies
Your medical records contain powerful weapons that can be used against you in a Colorado injury claim. Pre-existing conditions can be used by insurers and defendants as a way to diminish the amount of damages you receive in an injury claim due to an accident.
Lawyer ethics require the zealous representation of a client’s interests. Your interests are to receive payment for your injuries. The defendant’s and their insurer’s attorneys seek to keep the amount paid out to as little as possible.
If, five years ago, you dislocated your right shoulder after falling off a bicycle, you likely sought medical treatment and missed some work. Having made a full recovery, in your mind the shoulder issue is all behind you. Now, five years later, you are involved in a car accident in Colorado caused by another driver’s negligence. After being taken to the hospital, you are diagnosed with a severe shoulder injury. Surgery is required, and then extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation are needed.
Very soon thereafter, the insurance companies may contact you. One of the first questions they may ask is about that prior shoulder dislocation. This is because they want to argue that what happened was merely an aggravation of a pre-existing condition, in the hopes that they can offer a smaller settlement amount. What you deserve is a fair settlement in an amount properly addressing the extent of your injuries.
Insurance adjustors routinely comb through years of medical records to gather information to justify a lower payment. Insurance adjustors work for insurance companies, and a big part of their job is to find ways to reduce the amount of money paid on claims. They are going to look at your latest injury and look for evidence that the pain you are experiencing is due to the old injury, or that your recent accident merely aggravated an old injury. The science behind this is not really cut and dried, unfortunately. The type of injury, the area of the body involved, the severity of the accident, the reports of medical professionals, and how such reports can be interpreted all come into play.
Cases involving pre-existing conditions as an issue should be handled by a car accident lawyer. Individuals should not answer questions posed by an insurance adjustor without having an attorney present. Retaining an attorney who has experience in dealing with clients injured in a car accident, a car accident lawyer, if you will, is the best course of action. Furthermore, do not answer any questions when you are in pain and/or under the influence of pain medications.