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Accident Lawsuits and Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Posted by Scot D. Goldberg | Sep 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

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If you've suffered a serious injury after being involved in a crash, you will need to determine who is going to pay your medical bills as you try to put your life back together.

Making a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company is best accomplished by hiring an aggressive and skilled personal injury law firm. At Goldberg Noone, LLC, we have spent our careers fighting for the legal rights of accident victims, and we're able to anticipate what the other side's insurance company's tactics will be in their efforts to either pay you as little as they can get away with, or maybe even deny your claim altogether.

Your past medical history, and all of the records that support it, will become a very critical factor in determining the amount of financial compensation to which you may be entitled. The at-fault driver's insurance company and their attorneys will stop at nothing to try to prove your injuries are not related to the crash involving their insured. As you might suspect, they will look extremely closely at your entire past medical history to determine if you had any pre-existing conditions at the time of the crash.

If it can be proven that a pre-existing medical condition was present at the time of the crash, the at-fault driver's insurance company will use that as an excuse to reduce the amount of money they're willing to pay you for your most recent injuries. If you broke your arm in the fifth grade and that same arm was injured in a crash, they're going to claim that your injuries were made worse due to having broken that arm previously.

Another example of how having a pre-existing condition can affect your accident lawsuit is any sort of history of back problems. As we age, many of us begin to experience a deterioration of the spinal column. You may begin to feel pain in your low back caused by degenerative discs, or a mis-alignment of your spine. If your low back is injured in a crash, the other side will use your past medical records as a way to show you already had low back pain prior to the crash. A pre-existing condition can result in a lesser financial settlement if it can be proven, but our personal injury attorneys have years of experience in negotiating with insurance companies to make sure you receive every penny you are entitled to under Florida law.

Why Do They Make Me Go To an “Independent Medical Exam”?

In almost every one of our car or motorcycle accident injury cases, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will require you to attend an Independent Medical Exam, or IME. In reality, these are also called Compulsory Medical Exams, or CME, because there really is nothing ‘independent' about it.

The insurance company for the at-fault party will make you go to a physical medical evaluation appointment at a doctor who they select, but who does not have any type of relationship with you, or with the at-fault driver. Depending on the type of injuries you've suffered, it may be a chiropractor, or an orthopedic surgeon. They're supposed to examine you, and then report back to the insurance carrier as to whether they feel you have a legitimate injury and should continue medical treatment, but candidly that seldom happens. They will also ask you a series of questions about the accident itself in an effort to determine how your injuries were caused. This is allowed, provided the questions do not become to specific or stray into an area that the physician is not allowed to ask about – which happens all the time.

In the vast majority of our cases, the CME doctor will deny that you still require medical treatment, and recommend that your insurance benefits be stopped as relates to the injuries caused by the crash. This is where the term ‘independent' is really not appropriate – the doctor may not have any prior relationship with any of the persons involved, but they were still hired by the at-fault driver's insurance company.  And as you may imagine, 99% of the time they're going to side with the party that is paying them.

All About Causation

In a Florida personal injury lawsuit, there needs to be a definitive reason for your injuries, which is known as causation. It must be proven that the injuries you've suffered were a direct result of the crash.  

If in fact you do have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries, a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney may be able to determine that a recent crash has re-aggravated the injury. It may be something like a past neck injury that was re-injured because you were rear-ended at a stop light. Without the benefit of hiring a personal injury lawyer that deals with medical providers and insurance companies on a daily basis, you may not be able to prove this fact on your own.

Having a pre-existing condition does not automatically mean you aren't legally entitled to receive financial compensation for a recent injury. Our clients are always instructed to be honest and candid when negotiating your claim with an insurance company – because your medical records are going to indicate your past history, and there's no way to hide what you may have or have had in the past.

Don't let a pre-existing medical condition keep you from receiving financial compensation for your injuries. The personal injury law firm of Goldberg Noone is always available to answer any and all questions you may have following a crash, whether you hire us or not. One simple call to 239-461-5508 will be the first step to getting your life back on track. Or you can complete this simple form and we'll reach out to you immediately.

About the Author

Scot D. Goldberg

Scot Goldberg is a founding partner of the Goldberg Law Firm. See his attorney profile for more information.

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