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How does a preexisting injury affect a car accident claim?

Many people live with injuries that could possibly affect their claim in the event that they are involved in a car accident. Some of the injuries that would be considered a “preexisting condition” in this type of situation would include a bad back, previous neck pain, knee injuries, and many other things.

Personal Injury Claim: Preexisting Conditions

A great number of people live with preexisting conditions. For example, if a 25-year-old man suffered a back injury five years prior from playing football with friends, he may experience days every now and then in which his back aches, but nothing to the extent of him being unable to walk or perform daily responsibilities. However, if that man was then involved in a car accident today, he may suffer a more severe injury to his back that affects his daily life and could possibly cause him to take time off work, short-term or long-term. While this is a definite change in the everyday pain and burden the injury has on the man’s life, the insurance company would consider this an “aggravation of an existing condition.” The injured man would not receive the full amount of compensation from his car accident claim that he would have received had the back injury five years prior not occurred.

Preexisting conditions can be defined in a car accident case even if the individual themselves are unaware that they have the condition. There are some people who may have arthritic changes in their neck or back; changes that do not cause pain or affect the individual in any way. For example, if a 60-year-old woman was involved in a car accident that caused a neck injury, she would go see a medical professional for treatment. Tests would be done to identify the extent of the injury and the results would be shared with the woman, as well as the insurance company. If this woman was beginning to experience arthritic changes in her neck and spine, once again changes that do not affect her in any way at this point in her life and would not have affected her for years, the insurance company would still consider this to be a preexisting condition. The young woman would not receive the same amount of compensation due to the defined “acceleration of an existing condition” that the tests would show.

The notion of a preexisting condition is foreign to some car accident victims. Many individuals do not realize that an injury experienced on the football field years ago, or a shoulder injury that happened in the past can significantly affect their settlement if involved in a car accident.

Preexisting conditions can also be the result of a previous car accident. There is a chance that someone suffered an injury in a car accident at one point in their life and then was involved in a second car accident, whether it be years later or just a short time after. This once again could significantly affect the compensation that the individual might receive in a car accident settlement had they not been involved in a prior accident.

If you find yourself in a situation in which you have been involved in a car accident and have suffered an injury that may be considered a preexisting injury, it is imperative to seek the guidance of a car accident attorney. To speak to attorney Charlie Contrada regarding your accident, the injuries suffered, and what your legal options are, call 419.841.4400.


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Attorney Charlie Contrada has been practicing law since 1979, focusing his career on personal injury, car accident, and mesothelioma cases. Over the years, Charlie has helped thousands of clients throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan to receive the settlements that they deserve.

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