Pre-Existing Conditions

When it comes to personal injury, pre existing conditions are medical conditions that you had before an auto accident occurred. Whether your accident happened in Macon, Warner Robbins, Dublin, or anywhere else, any pre existing conditions you may have are very important in your personal injury case. Pre existing conditions can stem from nearly any personal hobby or job, including factory and manufacturing work, farming and agriculture, healthcare, insurance, forest products, food service, teaching, as well as military service. Pre existing conditions play a major role in proving your claim and what your compensation will be.

Keep in mind that pre existing conditions related to your personal injury case are entirely different from the pre existing condition issues you may have encountered in the past when you switched your medical insurance – usually when you changed jobs. Before 2013 when the Affordable Care Act (often called “ACA” or “Obamacare”) went into effect, insurance companies could legally refuse to cover a new applicant’s pre existing medical conditions. These conditions included illnesses and diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, hepatitis, and more. Some of these issues were life threatening. However, many were common and could be easily managed with treatment. The Affordable Care Act changed the law so that insurance companies could no longer refuse to cover a new applicant’s pre existing medical conditions. Most Americans, regardless of political party, are in favor of this change. Still, it is important to keep in mind that pre existing conditions for your personal medical coverage are different from any personal injury claims.

Why Are Pre Existing Conditions Important?

Depending on the injury, an insurance lawyer will use any pre existing medical condition you may have to eliminate or lower the compensation you deserve. After your case is filed in Macon or another area of Middle Georgia, the insurance company’s attorney will contact you for a deposition. You will have to answer questions under oath. The attorney may try to trick you into saying you already had these injuries and that they were not caused by the accident. The insurance company will also obtain your medical records going back many years in attempts to support their claim.

What Can You Do to Help Your Case?

Working with a local experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident is your best starting point. This will ensure that you know how to proceed so you have the strongest case possible. The other person’s insurance company will probably try to intimidate you and pressure you into taking an unfair deal. A good attorney will save you from these rookie mistakes. They will help alleviate your stress, ensure you’re getting the medical attention you need, and advise you on the best course of action. And, if your personal injury attorney fails to negotiate a settlement or loses in court, you won’t owe them any attorneys’ fees. They collect only if they successfully negotiate your settlement or win your court case. You have nothing to lose by working with an experienced Macon personal injury attorney like those here at Buzzell, Graham & Welsh.

Document Your Pre Existing Conditions

You can also be proactive in working with your medical professionals to seek the treatment you need and document your pre existing medical conditions before any accident occurs. This information is crucial in helping you support any claims that occur down the road after a car wreck. Medical records allow you to clearly show your health status before the accident.

As you see various doctors and other medical professionals throughout the year, such as those at Macon’s Coliseum Hospital, Regency, or Medical Center of Central Georgia, tell them if you have any pain or symptoms that are negatively impacting your life. Make sure they know exactly how your life is affected, whether it is the general quality of life or your ability to do your job, care for your children and family, do household chores, etc., Have your doctor document these details in their notes. Ask them if you need X-Rays, MRIs, or other tests to quantify your symptoms and document any conditions. These records can be helpful in your personal injury claim, even if you don’t need active treatment, such as prescription drugs.

Seek Medical Attention After an Auto Accident

If you become the victim of an auto accident, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance and go to a hospital even if you don’t think you’re injured. This third-party, unbiased documentation will paint a clear picture of your post-accident health status. Together with your pre-accident medical records, you’re able to support your claim in the clearest way possible.

The Difference Between Causation, Aggravation, and Exacerbation

When it comes to your personal injury case, you should be aware of several key terms related to pre existing conditions, because they may affect your compensation: “Causation” is critical. Let’s say you had neck pain before this car crash. However, you were lucky; your neck pain did not get worse after the accident, and no other medical injuries resulted from the wreck. In this case, you would not be able to claim that this accident caused the neck injury you previously had. Therefore, you would not be able to collect damages related to your old neck injury, although there may be other compensation you would be eligible for.

Along the lines of causation, there are two other interesting terms. You may see them in several variations: “Eggshell plaintiffs” and the “thin skull rule.” These terms mean the same thing, and they work in your favor. Both phrases mean that insurance companies cannot use your health or medical status before the accident as an excuse to avoid paying the extra damage caused by the car wreck. Damages should not be lessened or eliminated because of your pre existing condition. Your illness may have naturally worsened over time (or not), but the fact remains that another person made your injury worse at this exact point in time. The insurance company is responsible for compensating you for any worsened condition, even if your health might have declined over time anyway.

Next, you will want to understand the difference between an “aggravated” versus an “exacerbated” injury. Let’s start with the same example as above: You have a pre existing neck injury. If the car wreck affected your neck pain in a way that is permanent or significantly worse, then the wreck “aggravated” your pre existing medical condition. On the other hand, if the auto accident affected your neck pain so that it is worse but only temporarily or only by a little bit, then the wreck “exacerbated” your pre existing condition. It’s helpful to understand the effect each circumstance has upon your case – and on your compensation.

Get a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney To Guide You

Pre existing conditions are a crucial part of your personal injury claims, and they can  present tricky situations. It’s best to have an experienced attorney on your side. At Buzzell, Graham & Welsh, we bring over 90 years of personal injury law experience to our clients in Macon, Warner Robins, Dublin, and other areas in Bibb County and Middle Georgia. We offer free consultations and personalized support to each of our clients. Give us a call today.