After a car accident in New York City, the at-fault driver could be liable for your medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. But what about your pre-existing conditions?
How do those affect your personal injury claim?
If you had a prior health problem or injury prior to an accident, your condition may be aggravated or exacerbated, and your recovery may take longer than it would have if you did not have the condition.
Many people who have been involved in a truck accident, pedestrian accident, slip and fall accident, or other serious accident ask us if they still can be compensated, as it is not possible to heal fully from injuries and conditions that already existed.
The good news is that you can recover compensation related to a pre-existing condition after a car accident in New York City. However, you’ll face a lot of resistance from insurance companies, so it’s important to get help from an experienced NYC personal injury lawyer. Call Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., to schedule a free consultation to learn more today.
Insurance Companies Won’t Want to Compensate You For Pre-Existing Conditions
Insurance companies almost always place a huge focus on and make a big deal of pre-existing medical conditions and your medical history.
They do this because it lays the groundwork for you to reluctantly accept a very low settlement offer.
It also opens up the possibility to suggest you were untruthful in disclosing your pre-existing conditions.
Claims can be extremely complicated when pre-existing conditions are very recent injuries from other accidents.
For example, if you have a healing bone fracture and reinjure it within a matter of days, it can be difficult to establish what was pre-existing and what is new. The insurance company will place the burden on you to prove your injuries, significantly delaying your claim.
A personal injury claim involving pre-existing conditions has the potential to dramatically alter your claim, either for better or for worse. Pre-existing conditions can be tricky – complicating both your physical recovery and your personal injury claim.
Prior conditions and injuries need to be disclosed, but what you say about your pre-existing conditions can be used to discredit and devalue your claim. If you have a pre-existing condition, you need to work with a skilled personal injury attorney quickly.
One of the first things an insurance adjuster will do when asking about your injuries is ask you about pre-existing conditions and pain. Do not be tricked into believing that the insurance adjusters are asking because they care.
Insurance companies are businesses and insurance claims are business transactions. Any disclosure you make about previous conditions, back or neck pain may be used as justification for paying you less or denying your claim altogether.
Dealing with the Insurance Companies When You have a Pre-Existing Condition
Insurance adjusters have numerous tricks and tactics they use in handling a personal injury claim.
Their methods are fine-tuned strategies with a firm objective: protecting the insurance company’s bottom line by paying you as little as possible for your claim. Some of the tactics the insurance adjuster may take include:
Promising to be Fair
Being empathetic and making statements like “we accept responsibility” are aimed to build your trust in the insurance company’s imminent offer. When a low-ball settlement is later presented, they will assure you that this is fair, and remind you of your pre-existing condition.
Suggesting You Don’t Need an Attorney
Without a lawyer, you will not have much leverage over the insurance company. Insurance companies always prefer that you do not contact a lawyer because they will have to pay out far more for your claim when you have a qualified representative advocating for your rights.
Getting You to Provide a Recorded Statement
The insurance claims adjuster may ask you for a recorded statement when you report the accident or may ask you for it at a later time. Adjusters are trained to ask leading and loaded questions that can hurt your case. If you did provide a recorded statement, all hope is not lost. You can still hire a lawyer at any point in the claims process.
Offering You a Quick Settlement
In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may be hurting financially. Receiving check for $5,000 or $10,000 may feel like it will alleviate financial strain.
But this “solution” will last only a short while. Once you accept a settlement, you waive all future rights. It’s critical to look at the long-term picture and consider how your injuries will affect you not just tomorrow, but in months and years. The insurance company is betting on you being desperate for a quick buck and less concerned about what you deserve and entitled to.
If you are not familiar with the claims process, you are already at a disadvantage, because you are dealing with insurance companies that are highly skilled negotiators disguised as friendly customer service agents.
If you have pre-existing conditions, you should consider your case high-risk. It is almost certain that the insurance company will use your pre-existing condition against you.
When speaking with the insurance company, what you do or say may be used against you. The best thing you can do is contact a lawyer as soon as possible, and let them handle all communications with the insurance company.
What is the “Eggshell Plaintiff” Doctrine?
The “eggshell plaintiff” legal theory requires the insurance company to take into account the current state of your health when reviewing and evaluating your claim. If you had previously broken your ankle and are more susceptible to re-injury and arthritis, you still have the right to be compensated for your injuries being aggravated.
Even if you are more susceptible to injury because of your pre-existing condition, you have the right to get paid out fully and fairly if the accident worsens your condition.
Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions or preexisting injuries are painful both physically and figuratively. If you had an illness, injury, or condition prior to an accident, you still can recover compensation for the aggravation of your injuries. Some of the pre-existing conditions we see following a New York City car accident or slip and fall accident include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Broken Bones
- High blood pressure
- Heart murmurs
It is very important to be truthful in disclosing your injuries. Your disclosure of your pre-existing condition should match your medical records. You can get into trouble with a pre-existing condition if you claim that your accident caused your pre-existing condition, or you fail to mention your pre-existing condition when you report the accident. This may not be intentional, especially if the condition/injury happened many years ago.
Damages Available for Aggravated or Exacerbated Injuries
You may feel like prior injuries that happened years ago have nothing to do with your current injury, and that they are not the business of the insurance company. However, when you submit a personal injury claim, your medical record is the insurance company’s business. The insurance company is not entitled to all of your records.
Your lawyer can prove only medical records that have to do with body parts injured in your car accident.
The insurance company cannot place blame on you for previous injuries, and your injuries should not be mitigated because you are more susceptible to injury.
Instead, you should be treated as a fragile or eggshell plaintiff and provided compensation for your needs.
You may be entitled to compensation for any new injuries caused by a negligent or reckless party. When an accident causes a pre-existing condition to be aggravated or worsened, you can seek compensation for exacerbated or aggravated. Damages available may include:
- Medical expenses
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Lost income and salary
- Permanent or temporary disability
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death.
Do not allow the insurance companies to convince you to take less money than you deserve. Contact Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. to discuss your rights.
How Long Do You Have to File A Lawsuit for a New York Car Accident?
New York, like all states, has a statute of limitations that governs how long you have to file a lawsuit.
In most cases, you have three years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit and two years from the date of a death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, if you do not realize the crash aggravated your injuries until later, you may have a case for “tolling” the statute of limitations. In this scenario, the clock may not start until you learn about your injury.
You should never assume you will have more time to start a claim. Time is of the essence, as waiting to file a lawsuit can mean evidence and witness recollections are lost. If you have pre-existing conditions, seeing a specialist promptly after your accident can help document your injuries and allow a medical professional to monitor and document your healing and recovery.
Getting an exception to a statute of limitations may be complicated and drag out a case for much longer. After an accident, you can protect yourself by calling Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. as soon as possible.
Get a Free Consultation with a NYC Personal Injury Lawyer
At Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C., we are not afraid to take on difficult and challenging cases. Our NYC car accident attorneys have a long history of successful case results and many positive client reviews. We will fight to get you the maximum damages available, including compensation for pre-existing conditions after a car accident. We handle personal injury claims throughout New York City, including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Contact us to discuss your case.