Why Your Medical History Before the Accident Is So Important
Being injured in a car accident or other serious accident can do more than cause injuries at the time of the accident. It can also aggravate any previous injuries or issues you already had. In legal and insurance terms, these are called “preexisting conditions.” Even if you have preexisting conditions, you can still file a claim for any injuries you receive in an accident.
Because insurance companies and their attorneys will be looking for ways to minimize the effect of the accident and their responsibility to pay for it, it is important that you do two things if you have a prior condition. The first is to seek legal advice. The second is to be completely honest about the condition.
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Theory
Thanks to a legal concept called the “eggshell plaintiff,” at-fault parties and their insurance companies in a personal injury case do not get a pass if you had already hurt your back or neck in a previous accident. The “eggshell plaintiff” rule states that a defendant takes the plaintiff as they are found, prior injuries and all.
The insurance company is allowed to review your records for previous injuries and treatments. Your attorney will make sure they only go back as far as necessary to determine whether you have received recent treatment or have had any serious injuries. However, if you have had a previous back or neck injury that has been aggravated by this accident, you will need to explain that to your attorney and to the insurance companies.
What the Defense Can and Cannot Get
The opposing party is entitled to request all medical records “reasonably related” to the injuries and damages being claimed in the case. That means if you are claiming a back injury, the defense has a right to request all medical records related to your back.
Your attorney will take steps to prevent them from obtaining all of your records. For instance, if you are claiming a back injury from the accident today, and you had once gone to a chiropractor fifteen years ago, that treatment is not “reasonably related” to your back injury today. However, if you had a spinal fusion two years ago, and the accident fractured your lower vertebrae, that type of treatment is related to the injury, and you would have to release it to the defense. Reach out to us if you need more information.
How This Helps You
The goal in any personal injury case is to prove that you have suffered harm from this accident. If you were properly treated previously for an existing injury and did what your doctor advised, then your medical records will show that your preexisting condition had healed, and your injuries are due to the current accident.
If you have a chronic condition, medical records will show the progression of your condition, and the current status, so that any additional pain or aggravation of your injury can be attributed to the accident.
For instance, if you are being treated for chronic neck pain, and see a physical therapist every week, your records will indicate that your neck is stable, and you have no nerve impingement. Therefore, if you have nerve pain and cervical misalignment after the accident, that would be because of the accident, and not due to your previous neck problem.
Contact us immediately, if you have pressing questions about your case.
How We Can Help
If the insurance company knows you have a preexisting condition, they may try to intimidate you into accepting a lower settlement by claiming your injury was caused by that earlier condition. Or they may go on a fishing expedition to see what other medical issues you may have that would let them avoid payment.
We can help you get the compensation you are entitled to after a serious injury by keeping the insurance companies at bay. Our legal team knows how to prevent them from digging too deeply into your confidential records, and how to respond to their requests for disclosure.
If you have been injured in a serious car accident or other type of accident and you have a preexisting condition, you should consult a legal professional right away. The Dallas personal injury attorneys of The Benton Law Firm know how to handle your medical history and will help you deal with the insurance company’s demands and protect your rights.
Contact The Benton Law Firm at (214) 777-7777 for a free, confidential consultation. We will review your case and answer your questions about presenting your medical history to the insurance company. Let us help you file your claim today.