Most households are trying to wrestle with how pre-existing health conditions affect their medical insurance. They have forced it into the political arena demanding protection. When pre-existing health conditions mix with car accidents, the problem becomes legally complex.
If you are injured in a car accident and that injury is connected directly on indirectly with your pre-existing condition, you deserve to be made whole. But, determining the degree of liability can be too difficult for you to navigate on your own. For instance, CNN identifies anxiety as the second most common pre-existing condition at 18.1 percent of the adult population. You can imagine how problematic that can be when those “patients” are further injured in a car accident.
You need to know:
You must secure the medical help you need following the accident before you think of anything else. But, you should not discuss your pre-existing condition with anyone but medical personnel.
The other driver’s liability will depend partly on how the injury is categorized. It is defined as “Aggravation” if increases the level of the pre-existing condition. It’s aggravation if it multiplies or intensifies the symptoms. It is considered “exacerbation” if it temporarily increases the discomfort before returning to the previous level.
You must document your pre-existing condition and the therapeutic remediation you have sought in the past. But, you should not let that prevent you from pursuing the compensation you need and deserve.
Any insurance or legal analysis will first focus on the cause of the injury as well as the accident. Investigators will try to determine the mechanism of the accident: the nature of the vehicles, the speed at impact, the weather conditions, and so on. But, they will also look for the mechanism of the injury: weight and age of injured party, use of z seatbelt, position in the vehicle, and more.
That’s where pre-existing conditions come in. That is, someone must determine if your aggravated or exacerbated injury was directly or indirectly caused by the impact. They want to determine how much of the post-accident condition is attributable to the vehicle accident and how much existed before. For example, you may have been suffering from diagnosed and treated degenerative disc disease. The accident has aggravated the pain and suffering by 15 percent. Proving that and putting a value on it will be difficult. As William J. Harte wrote in the Notre Dame Law Review, “since the plaintiff [the injured party] must prove his case by a preponderance of the evidence, he has the burden of proving causal connection.”
But, there might be another complication. If your pre-existing condition resulted from a workplace injury managed by Workers’ Comp or from an earlier accident for which you have been or are being compensated, pinpointing the cause of this aggravated or exacerbated condition becomes even and the share of the liability becomes even more difficult.
Determining liability in complex situations
Determining liability is not for the average person. This is not a do-it-yourself project. It requires someone’s help to navigate the insurance companies’ claims processes and the court system if your situation winds up in litigation. Coye Law Firm handles car accident claims in Florida, for example, and it would be good to carry their contact information in your wallet in case of emergency.
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