After a car accident, you probably have a million things running through your mind. You need to check up on the safety of any passengers or other involved parties, along with yourself. You need to start devising a recovery plan if you have suffered injuries. You need to figure out how you will deal with any vehicle or other property repairs. And that is only the beginning. Things can get even more complicated in an auto accident claim if you have any pre-existing conditions. The other party may use your pre-existing conditions to argue that the accident did not cause you any new damage. In this blog post, we will give you a brief overview of how to handle pre-existing conditions in your Colorado car accident claim.
Though you may be tempted to hide your pre-existing conditions, doing so may sabotage your claim. Pre-existing conditions are common, and you may even have one without knowing about it. Some of the most common pre-existing conditions include, but are not limited to the following: arthritis, back pain, broken bones, chronic illness, disc herniation, neck pain, nerve damage, prior surgeries, scoliosis, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, vertebral fracture, and work-related injuries.
Knowing what is relevant or not in a case is not always easy, especially if you do not have a full and comprehensive understanding of the law. Working with a trusted legal team is the best way to understand how to handle your pre-existing conditions. Speak candidly with your attorney about any pre-existing conditions you may have, regardless of whether or not you feel they are related to your case. You should do so even if the pre-existing injuries have already healed. Keep in mind that insurance companies can get access to past medical records. Your lawyer needs to know if and how you have any past injuries that could affect your claim.
In the state of Colorado, all auto accident victims may be entitled compensation for any pre-existing conditions that have been aggravated by a new car crash. If the accident was a direct result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness, then the at-fault party will be held liable for your damages. Still, there are cases where apportionment may occur. In such cases, the jury designates separate amounts of damages for the pre-existing conditions and any new injuries. In other words, the defendant will not be held liable for the total. Apportionment only occurs when supported by sufficient evidence. In any case, the defendant will be held liable old for any damages that they aggravated or caused.
Consider for a moment a hypothetical scenario in which a car accident victim has had a previously herniated disc. If the victim has suffered a new herniated disc as a result of their auto accident, then apportionment is unlikely. However, if the recent accident causes the previous back injury to flare up, then the victim may be affected by the “thin skull” rule. The “thin skull” rule, also known as the eggshell rule, is “an additional exposure in tort liability” towards those with pre-existing conditions. Under the “thin skull” rule, the victim cannot have their own frailty used against them. Instead, the defendant must be held liable for all damages (new or aggravated) caused by their negligence.
Many people make the mistake of believing that insurance companies have victims’ best interests at heart. In reality, insurance companies are businesses like any other. They have to protect their bottom line, giving them every reason to minimize a settlement offer. After all, every dollar they pay victims comes out of their own pockets. Claims adjusters can and will go to extreme measures to discredit your claim. They may use your medical history against you to argue that you have not suffered any new injuries or are exaggerating your damages. When speaking to insurance company representatives, stick to the facts. Do not editorialize or express remorse for the accident, as doing so can easily be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. You may even want to consult with an attorney before giving a formal statement to the insurance company. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to pressure victims into speaking before they are ready or taking an initial settlement offer. Do not let yourself be intimidated. Remember that you can and should take the time to consider all your options before making any final decisions.
You should seek medical attention immediately after an auto accident, regardless of whether or not you feel you have suffered serious injuries or plan on filing a claim. A post-accident rush of adrenaline can easily hide some symptoms of injury. Some injuries may take some time to make themselves known at all. In any case, an injury that is not properly treated will only get worse with time. Furthermore, it is important to establish a clear association between your accident and your injuries. The other party may accuse you of faking or exaggerating your injuries if you have failed to seek immediate medical attention. Furthermore, the doctor you see may also affect the compensation you receive. The right physician will be able to establish clear causation for your injuries. Keeping detailed records of your injuries will strengthen your claim and eliminate the possibility of confusion.
Taking care of a car accident claim can be overwhelming, especially if you are recovering from injuries and property damage. You need someone you can trust in your corner. Fortunately, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide auto accident attorneys. You should never have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.