Do not fall into the misconception that, just because you have a pre-existing condition, you cannot make an injury claim. Nothing can be further from the truth. But there are some things to keep in mind about your pre-existing condition.
When you make a claim for personal injuries, naturally your medical history will come into play. Sometimes, past injuries, illnesses, or medical conditions will affect how your present injury claim is handled.
Always be upfront with your Personal Injury Lawyer about your pre-existing condition.
Your injury lawyer will want to know if you have any previous injuries or illnesses. If your injury lawyer knows early on, then the proper measures can be taken. If you do not tell your lawyer and try to hide your pre-existing conditions, then you run the risk of your attorney finding out too late when nothing can be done about it.
Sometimes, when I ask about pre-existing conditions, clients get aggravated and even outright angry. I’ve even had clients try to say that their medical history is irrelevant and they try to change the subject. That’s when I get suspicious about the client’s intentions. Chances are, you and your attorney can work with any pre-existing medical conditions. So, be up front and honest early on.
“They’ll never find out about my pre-existing condition…”
Don’t think you can hide the fact that you have a pre-existing condition. It will come out, one way or the other. Better to get it out on the table early and let your lawyer figure out how to handle it. Here are some ways they can find out about pre-existing conditions:
Prior Injury Claims:
When you make an insurance claim, it is reported to a central database. Insurance companies are able to access this database and determine if you have ever made a previous injury claim.
Your Medical Records and pre-existing conditions:
Whenever you make an injury claim, your lawyer sends you medical records to the adjuster for review. If the adjuster suspects that the injury may be pre-existing, they may request records from your family doctor or primary care physician before they evaluate your claim. Whether this request is valid or just a stalling tactic is something you and your lawyer will decide.
The Litigation Process:
If a lawsuit has to be filed in your case, then each party is entitled to request information from the other. This process is called “Discovery.” Discovery included written requests for information or documents (also known as “written discovery”). It also includes oral testimony (also known as a “deposition”). During the discovery process, you can count on the other attorney asking about your previous medical and claims history.
Sometimes a pre-existing condition can help your case!
Just because you have a previous injury or medical history does not mean your case is over. As a matter of fact, it can help. If you have an obvious serious injury, such as a fractured arm or leg, then your previous medical history becomes less relevant.
But let’s say you injured your knee in a car accident. And let’s also say that you have had previous knee pain in the past. If your previous doctor took an MRI, then your knee condition had been properly documented prior to your accident.
If you have another MRI after your accident and it might show further damage to your knee that requires surgery. Your doctor will compare the two MRI’s and be able to say that your car accident worsened your knee condition. Your prior medical treatment to your knee and the previous MRI has just helped your case.