When you or a loved one is injured because of the negligence of another person, product, or company, it is easy to feel a mixture of emotions, from overwhelmed to angry to despondent. Oftentimes, our clients worry about whether their situation will even qualify them for compensation.
Many injured persons who have pre-existing conditions fear that their case will be negatively impacted, or that they don’t have a case because of their pre-existing medical conditions. We’re here to shed a little light on that situation.
What is a Pre-Existing Condition?
“Pre-existing conditions” is the umbrella term used to describe any medical condition a person has prior to a traumatic event, such as a car crash.
There are a variety of common pre-existing conditions, including but not limited to:
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Sleep Apnea
- Spinal Stenosis
In many cases, a pre-existing condition canmake an individual especially vulnerable to injury; however, the insurance company will try to use this pre-existing condition against the victim.
Sometimes the victim won’t even know that he/she had these pre-existing conditions. For example, anyone over the age of 50 years old has degenerative disc disease. The difference is that some people have severe degenerative disc disease and feel pain from it and others have a mild case and don’t even know they have it.
Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Cases
In a personal injury case, the at-fault person should be found legally responsible for compensating the injured party. This compensation may include past and future medical costs, past and future lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering. The at-fault individual is not, however, responsible for any pre-existing conditions.
This is where it can get tricky.
While having a pre-existing condition in no way minimizes a person’s chance at injury (in fact, it many times will increase it), oftentimes it is used against you.
Many insurance companies and defense attorneys will argue that because an individual had a pre-existing condition, the depth of the injuries they sustained is not as severe. For instance, someone might suffer for months from debilitating back and shoulder pain after a car accident, but have a pre-existing degenerative disc disease.
The defendant may argue that the back and shoulder pain stems from their disease, not the accident, or try to state that if the individual weren’t frail from the disease, then the car accident would not have caused them any injuries.
Maryland law says that a pre-existing condition does not mean a victim can be denied compensation. However, depending on the type of accident that occurs, the injuries inflicted, and the pre-existing conditions involved, a case may become more difficult to argue For these types of cases it’s extremely important to have an experienced car accident lawyer.
What Should I Do if I’m Injured and Have a Pre-Existing Condition?
If you’ve been in an accident, it is always important to first check yourself for injuries, and if you have a pre-existing condition, you will want to be sure to be upfront about that to your medical examiner.
It is important to know that having a pre-existing condition does not preclude you from being newly injured or exacerbating your previous condition. You can both have a pre-existing condition and be injured in an accident–they are not mutually exclusive, no matter how insurance companies or defendants may try to play it.
If your pre-existing condition is aggravated by the accident, you may qualify for compensation. The law in Maryland is simple. You must take your victim as you find them. What that means is that if the car crash would not have hurt most people, but hurt you, then the at fault driver is responsible. In Maryland the exacerbation of a previous condition says the at fault driver is responsible for increased symptoms and pain related to your injuries.
Can I Keep My Medical Records Private?
When hiring a lawyer for a personal injury, it is important to divulge any pre-existing conditions that may have been affected by the accident. Even if you don’t believe it is necessary or relevant to your claim. Should your case go to trial, the defendant can and almost certainly will request your medical records, and any time a medical condition is withheld, it can compromise the integrity of your case and your chance at receiving compensation.
Your Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys
If you’ve been injured in Maryland by the recklessness of someone else, you deserve compensation, and having a pre-existing condition should never stand in your way.