When you have been involved in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, you can expect the insurance company to use every trick in the book to avoid paying you the full amount that you are due.
One of their most common tactics is to claim that you had a pre-existing condition and that the accident did not cause your injuries. After the accident, never sign a HIPAA authorization allowing the insurance company to obtain your prior medical records. They are not your friend. They are trying to find evidence of prior issues so that they can create grounds to deny your claim.
When someone else has injured you in an accident, they must pay you for your damages. You are entitled to the following elements of damages when you have suffered injuries:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional trauma
The Responsible Driver Must Pay for the Damages That They Caused You
Under North Carolina law, if you injure somebody the rule is that “you take your victim as you find them.” It does not matter what the accident victim’s health status or condition was before the accident. Just because the accident victim was already injured, or had pre-existing issues, does not change responsible driver’s legal obligations.
The responsible party’s insurance company must pay you for your pain and suffering, even if it is more than the average person would suffer. In North Carolina, this is called the “eggshell doctrine,” meaning that it does not matter if the accident victim had a skull as thin as an eggshell. The defendant would still be responsible for the injuries they caused, regardless of whether the injured person was predisposed to suffer the injuries.
New Hanover and Brunswick counties are home to a large population of retirees who have moved here to enjoy the beautiful beaches, laid back lifestyle, and excellent weather. Insurance companies routinely allege that senior citizens are not entitled to full compensation after a car wreck because they have pre-existing orthopedic problems. Do not fall for the insurance company’s tactics. North Carolina law is clear that seniors are just as entitled to fair compensation.
You can expect the insurance company to thoroughly examine your medical records before making you a settlement offer. They will know if you had something wrong with you before the accident. They will not hesitate to cut their offer if they can find something else to blame for your injuries. Even if they are unsuccessful, they will lose nothing by trying. It is one of the insurance company’s common negotiating tactics.
The Insurance Company May Argue That the Driver Did Not Cause Your Injuries
The legal principle the insurance company will try to take advantage of is called causation. The fourth element of the negligence test requires the defendant’s conduct caused your injuries. The insurance company’s argument is that, even if their policyholder was negligent, they were not the cause of your injuries because you had the problem beforehand.
You might be vulnerable to this argument if you did not have an experienced attorney on your side. However, a personal injury lawyer will help you develop a legal strategy to establish causation.
In many cases, a person’s pre-existing condition is aggravated by injuries sustained in a car wreck. It is common sense that somebody who is already injured, or fragile, would be further injured in a car wreck. Perhaps, the pre-existing issue is under control but the car wreck make its flare up again. There are a variety of potential scenarios and an experienced injury lawyer will help you make your case against the insurance company.
How You Can Help Your Situation
One of the most important things you can do is get medical help immediately after your accident. Seeing a doctor will begin the process of getting a diagnosis that could show that your condition was aggravated by the accident.
The longer you wait, the more opening you give the insurance company to dispute your medical condition and argue that your damages came from something unrelated to the accident. Your doctor will provide you with documentation that you can use as support when you file your claim.
Even though it could complicate your claim, you need to be open about your pre-existing condition with your lawyer because the insurance company will likely find it. You are better off letting your lawyer fight on your behalf when the insurance company wrongfully tries to use your pre-existing condition as an excuse to deny fair compensation.
The other important step that you can take is hiring a lawyer to handle dealings with the insurance company. On your own, you may not know the legal rules. When the insurance company says that they owe you less or nothing, you may have difficulty countering them because the adjuster knows you likely won’t take them to court alone.
An experienced attorney knows how to respond to the insurance company and gives you the leverage of filing a lawsuit if necessary. We know their tactics because we have been on the other side of the table.
Call a Wilmington Car Accident Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Horton Mendez know how to deal with all the insurance company tactics that have one purpose; to deny you fair compensation. We will help you level the playing field with the insurance company.
We offer free consultations, where we will review your case and explain your legal options. To schedule an appointment, you can message us online or call us today at (910) 668-8067.
Car Accident Pre-Existing Condition FAQs
What happens if the insurance company absolutely will not budge on the issue of the pre-existing condition?
In the end, the jury will decide what you are due. If the insurance company wants to take a chance, they can answer in court.
Will a dispute about a pre-existing condition delay my settlement?
If there are issues in the settlement negotiation, it could take time. The insurance company may want to drag things out for leverage.
How will the insurance company know about my condition?
They may ask you questions about your medical history and/or ask you to sign a HIPAA authorization to comb through your records. Don’t sign anything! You can expect that the insurance company will do anything to pay you as little as they can.