How do Pre-Existing Injuries Impact a Texas Personal Injury Claim?
Accidents are common occurrences in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), a person is hurt every two minutes due to a vehicle crash. Almost 90,000 people a year are seriously injured in Texas accidents. If you were hurt in an accident, the first thing to do is to seek medical treatment for your injuries.
The negligent driver is responsible for the accident and should pay for the medical expenses that result from the car wreck. But what happens if you had a pre-existing injury or medical condition before the accident? How do pre-existing injuries impact an injury claim?
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition or injury is one that you previously experienced. If you have a pre-existing injury, you have already suffered an injury in that particular body area. Although, you may have re-injured or hurt it again due to this accident.
Just because you have a pre-existing injury, do not assume you will not be compensated for your new injuries. Your condition may have worsened due to the accident.
Compensation for Aggravation of a Pre-existing Injury
A personal injury claim in Texas includes a situation where an existing injury is aggravated or made worse by the auto accident. Just because the accident victim had an old injury does not mean a personal injury lawyer can’t help.
For example, you had a previous neck or back injury but were treated, and it healed. The preexisting medical condition does not prevent future claims.
Later you were involved in a rear-end collision that caused whiplash. Your injury lawyer may be able to prove that your condition was significantly worsened or aggravated by the accident.
Or you have a history of low back issues but re-injure yourself in a construction accident. In this case, if the accident was the fault of another, and it made your condition worse, you may win compensation.
Fully Disclose Pre-Existing Injuries to Your Injury Lawyer
One of the most important things that any accident victim should do is disclose any previous injuries or conditions to their healthcare provider and your Houston personal injury attorneys. Being upfront about your personal injury is essential to get compensated for your new injury caused by your accident.
All too often, victims may feel that disclosing a previous injury will not get the money they need to recover. But not telling your lawyer can only hurt your claim. Unfortunately, if your lawyer does not know, it can worsen matters.
Most personal injury victims are unaware of the information that insurance companies have access to, such as prior claims, prior accidents, and other injuries to the same area once your medical records are obtained.
When asked, the best thing to do is to tell the treating physician about your prior conditions and injuries. The doctor should note the additional medical damages caused by your accident.
Always tell your injury attorney about every prior injury and claim, even if they do not seem to pertain to your current injury.
Be Careful with Over Broad Medical Release Forms
Some adjusters will send you medical release forms to sign so they can obtain medical records. However, the authorization can be overbroad and allow records from the time you were born.
Overbroad medical releases should be rejected as irrelevant. Old injuries from decades ago are too remote, in our opinion. Still, disclose every pre-existing medical condition to your attorney.
We suggest retaining a personal injury attorney or a workers’ compensation lawyer to obtain the records from a relevant time frame and send the records to the adjuster.
What is the Eggshell Doctrine in Texas?
The Texas Eggshell Skull Doctrine is also known as the “Thin Skull Rule.” The rule states that the negligent party must take the injury victim as he or she finds them. As the victim, you have the right to be compensated for the injuries due to someone else’s negligence.
As a personal injury victim in Texas, you may be eligible to receive compensation after a traffic accident if the pre-existing injury had stabilized before the accident or if there was no indication that the condition would worsen before the accident happened.
In other words, you should be compensated for any additional injuries or the aggravation of existing injuries caused by the negligent party’s actions. A spine injury can have conditions like degenerative discs and insurance companies like to argue causation.
What to Do if You Had a Prior Injury?
Your case may be more complicated because you have a preexisting injury, but you may still be owed money for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Always document that your old injury had healed or not bothered you before this accident. Sometimes, your doctor can compare tests like an MRI or X-rays and show how this incident enhanced or worsened the old injury.
Note punitive damages are thought of as punishment and not compensation.
Think of it this way: Would you have needed this medical treatment if you had not had this accident? Or would the pre-existing medical condition have required this treatment? Personal injury cases can take some time to settle; if you recall something later, always tell your attorney.
What if the Adjuster Claims the Crash Did Not Cause My Injuries?
A common tactic of car accident adjusters is to try to “disallow” legitimate medical expenses. Sometimes using the excuse the bills are “unnecessary” or “not related” to injury from the collision.
Not to worry, adjusters use these tactics daily when folks are trying to handle a case without an attorney.
In Texas, the law allows folks to recover compensation from existing conditions that were aggravated or made symptomatic by accident. Often proof of the aggravation comes from a doctor’s testimony. If the car wreck caused you to seek medical care which you would not have otherwise needed, you might be able to seek those damages in your personal injury case.
Want to Talk with a Leading Car Wreck Attorney?
The auto accident attorneys in Houston at Baumgartner Law Firm have been helping Texans injured in an auto accident get maximum compensation for over three decades. Call us at (281) 587-1111 or click here to email a request for consultation on your personal injury claim and any pre-existing medical condition.
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