Getting rear-ended might sound like a minor inconvenience to most people. Your car gets bumped, and your neck feels sore the next day. But for people living with a pre-existing condition, whether it’s arthritis or a previous injury, even a fender bender can be serious. Not only are the resulting injuries painful, but they may require extensive medical treatment. In these cases, you’ll want to make a claim for compensation after a car wreck.
Can the insurance company deny your claim based on your pre-existing condition? They might try to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. A legal rule called the “eggshell skull rule” protects Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida accident victims when a crash worsens a pre-existing injury or condition.
Many of Us Have Pre-Existing Conditions
While a diagnosis like arthritis may quickly come to mind, many different pre-existing diseases and conditions can complicate your car accident claim. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ve seen insurance companies dispute or deny claims when the accident victim lived with:
- Chronic illnesses, like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- Degenerative joint disease
- Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
- Diabetes or diabetic neuropathy
- Migraines and tension headaches
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia
- Past surgeries or injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
However, some people aren’t even aware of their potential pre-existing issues. For example, you may have arthritis in your back, and you may not know about it. After a crash, the insurance company may focus on the times that you casually reported back or neck pain to your doctor, especially when your imaging studies report “degenerative changes” later on.
What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule?
In these cases, the eggshell skull rule protects these victims. The rule mandates that victims be “taken as they are” at the time of an accident. In plain English, if a victim is more prone to injury than an average person, the insurance company can’t use it as an excuse to avoid paying compensation.
It’s called the eggshell skull doctrine because it covers all preexisting conditions, including rare and unusual ones. For example, let’s say you ran a stop sign and struck another car. If the other driver has a rare brittle bone disorder, or a skull as thin as an eggshell, you and your insurance company would still have to cover the victim’s damages—even though they are probably more extensive than if the individual had been able-bodied.
Still, many insurance companies try to deny claims based on victims’ pre-existing conditions. These companies hope victims don’t understand Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida’s injury laws and won’t consult an experienced lawyer.
How to Make an Injury Claim When You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
Getting fair compensation from the insurance company after a crash can be challenging, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. However, by following a few simple tips, you may improve your chances of getting the compensation you deserve.
Seek Medical Care After a Car Accident
After a wreck, it can be tempting to skip going to the doctor, especially if you already live with chronic pain. No matter how small the accident might seem or whether you feel like the crash made your pain worse, you should seek medical care right away. Remember, symptoms of some injuries, especially back and neck injuries, can develop over time. Only a doctor is qualified to evaluate you and determine the extent of your injuries.
You also want to have documentation of your injuries. If the accident aggravates your chronic condition, but there’s no documentation, the insurance company will deny your claim for compensation. It may argue that your injuries aren’t as bad as you’re claiming, or that if you really suffered a serious injury, you would have gone to the doctor.
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Work With a Lawyer to Prove That Your Pain Is Connected to the Car Accident
An insurance company may try to deny your claim by saying your injuries didn’t result from the accident at all. For instance, if you live with a chronic spine condition and experience a worsening of your condition, swelling, or a reaggravation after getting rear-ended, the company might argue that your pain, restricted movement, and discomfort are due to your underlying condition, not the car accident.
So, how can you prove that your pain and injuries are linked to the wreck that injured you? The most important step is to provide thorough medical records and get expert testimony that establishes causation between your pain and the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you compile the documents and witnesses you need to make a strong case.
Follow the Correct Claim Process
Each insurance company has its own process for filing a claim after a car accident. However, you’ll need to do more than follow the insurance company’s directions. In addition to the company’s claim processes, you’ll also need to comply with your state’s legal procedures. For example, each state sets strict filing deadlines for injury lawsuits. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to compensation.
For help with the claim process, reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
Don’t Settle Before You Consult with an Attorney
After the wreck, you may hear from an insurance adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. The adjuster may even use underhanded tactics to convince you to accept a settlement that’s far too low.
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we help our clients make the best possible decisions based on their unique situations. We carefully calculate their damages, investigate their claims, and then build strategies aimed at getting them fair compensation for their injuries.
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Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Fighting for Injured Victims in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we know how painful, debilitating, and exhausting a car wreck and the resulting injuries can be. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to fighting for victims and helping them get the compensation they deserve. We’re known for fighting on behalf of our clients with intelligence, grit, and experience.
If you or a loved one suffered life-changing injuries in an accident, whether you had a pre-existing condition or not, please reach out to us. We will listen to your story, help you understand your legal options, and advise you about your best course of action.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.