Accident victims injured because of another driver’s negligence are likely eligible to seek compensation for their damages. However, what if the injured victim had an injury that was preexisting? Would this prevent the victim from being able to recover damages from the at-fault party?
At Bernstein and Poisson, we have decades of experience helping crash victims recover compensation – including those with preexisting injuries. We have a proven track record, and we are prepared to work tirelessly to maximize your claim. Take advantage of the free initial consultation we offer to help you learn if you have a valid claim. Our qualified car crash lawyers in Las Vegas are here to help.
Can You Seek Compensation With a Preexisting Injury?
The short answer to this question is yes. The plaintiff’s side still has the burden of proving the at-fault party owed a duty of care and was negligent. However, Nevada does not bar victims from pursuing compensation after a car crash simply because of a preexisting condition. Preexisting injuries are often severely aggravated or made worse in a car crash.
The Eggshell Skull Rule and How it Helps
Insurance companies are known for aggressively trying to avoid paying out on any claim. This approach is especially true when an accident victim is found to have prior injuries. However, a legal theory called the eggshell skull rule says that an at-fault party must take an injured victim as they are found at the time of a car crash.
This legal theory applies even if there was a preexisting condition that would make injury or reinjury more likely. The at-fault party should not be released from liability simply because the victim had a prior injury.
For instance, what if an injured victim had a preexisting shoulder injury that was aggravated in a crash, requiring the victim to undergo surgery? That victim should not have to pay for medical costs that arose from the crash and were because of the defendant’s negligence.
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Why Disclose Your Preexisting Injuries
Although it may be tempting to try to keep your preexisting injury or medical condition hidden, that approach almost always backfires. The truth about your medical history is bound to surface, so it is better to disclose it in a way that is not damaging to your claim. How you disclose this information is important.
However, telling the insurance company about your preexisting injuries without the help of an attorney can also hurt the value of a claim. Therefore, disclosing your prior injuries should be done selectively. For example, you should inform:
A Qualified Attorney
Discussions with your attorney are protected by attorney-client privilege, so what you say is confidential and cannot be shared. The best approach is to be fully honest with your attorney about everything related to your crash and any injuries. This information helps him or her to be able to determine the best way to handle any potential challenges, such as a preexisting injury. Your attorney can also handle communications with the insurance company, making sure that only your relevant medical records are seen by the other side.
Your Treating Physician
While your attorney can guide you throughout your car crash claim, your treating physician and medical team provides the care you need to recover. That said, your attorney can help you understand how to discuss your injuries with your doctor and the rest of your medical team. Your doctor documents your complaints, diagnosis and treatments in your medical records for each of your appointments. So your medical records can be useful in showing how your preexisting injuries have worsened.
Common Mistakes Made By Victims With Prior Injuries
Accident victims, typically in shock after a collision, may make damaging mistakes at the accident scene, like admitting fault. Those with preexisting medical conditions or prior injuries may make additional mistakes early on that could also cause damage to their claim by:
- Speaking with the insurance company before calling a lawyer: Insurers may try to get you to give a recorded statement, or attempt other tactics that can later be used against you to devalue or deny your claim.
- Failing to disclose prior injuries or other injury claims with your lawyer: Your attorney needs all the facts about your case to be able to fully protect your legal interests and maximize the outcome of your claim.
- Believing you can keep your preexisting injuries hidden: This approach is always a bad idea, and it could result in your entire medical history being revealed to the insurer. The outcome is that you look dishonest, which in turn casts doubt on the rest of your statements. Additionally, when your attorney only learns of an issue after it is already disclosed, it is harder to minimize any negative impact.
- Deciding to try to settle your claim without an attorney: A qualified attorney handles challenging injury cases every day. This includes cases involving victims with preexisting medical conditions or injuries. There are benefits to having an attorney deal with the unique challenges of a claim involving preexisting injuries. Victims who have legal representation typically recover more compensation than those who do not.
Call Bernstein and Poisson for Legal Help You Can Trust
Did you get injured because of another driver’s negligence? If so and you had preexisting injuries, our team of legal professionals may be able to help. At Bernstein and Poisson, we know how to handle car crash claims involving victims with preexisting injuries.
Our knowledgeable attorneys have 60 years of combined legal experience, and we have recovered millions in compensation for our clients. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay up front or while we work on your case. We do not get paid until, or unless, you do.