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), every two minutes a person is hurt 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 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 the Definition of 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 area of the body. Although, you may have re-injured or hurt it again as a result of this accident.
Just because you have a pre-existing injury, do not assume that you will not be compensated for your new injuries. In fact, your condition may have worsened due to the accident.
A personal injury claim in Texas includes the 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 injury 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. You as a plaintiff may be able to prove that your condition was significantly worsened or aggravated by the accident.
Fully Disclose Pre-Existing Injuries to Your Lawyer
One of the most important things that any accident victim should do is disclose any previous injuries or conditions to your healthcare provider and your personal injury attorney. Being upfront about your personal injury is essential to get compensated for your new injury that was caused by the accident.
All too often, victims may feel that by disclosing a previous injury, they 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 actually make matters worse.
The best thing to do is to tell the treating physician about your prior conditions and injuries when asked. The doctor should note the additional medical damages caused by the accident. Always tell your 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 for you 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?
The Texas Eggshell Skull Doctrine is also known as the “Thin Skull Rule.” Basically, 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 that happened due to the negligence of someone else.
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 prior to 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 that were caused by the negligent party’s actions.
What to Do if You Had a Prior Injury?
If you were injured in a car accident, or a trucking accident always seek needed medical care immediately following the crash. Then, call an experienced personal injury attorney to assist with your claim.
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 the fact that your old injury had healed or was not bothering you prior to this accident. Sometimes, your doctor will be able to compare tests like an MRI or x-rays and show how this incident enhanced or made worse the old injury.
Think of it this way, if you did not have this accident, would you have needed this medical treatment? Or would the pre-existing medical condition have required this treatment?
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, these tactics are used every day by adjusters when folks are trying to handle the case without an attorney.
In Texas, the law allows folks to recover compensation from existing conditions that were aggravated or made symptomatic by the 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 may be able to seek those damages in your personal injury case.
Want to Talk with a Leading Car Wreck Attorney?
We 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.
Contact our Houston legal team at Baumgartner Law Firm for a free case consultation by calling (281) 587-1111!
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