Can an Alabama car accident victim, with a pre-existing back or neck injury, recover damages after an accident?
The short answer to this question is “It depends.” If a car accident victim has a pre-existing injury, it could help or harm the case. Consulting with an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney who specializes in car accident cases will be the first step in determining how a previous back or neck injury can affect a claim. There are a variety of factors that are taken into consideration including a doctor’s testimony and how the pre-existing injury is related to the current personal injury.
You can fully expect that opposing insurance companies will want to push back against your personal injury claim by using your prior injury against you. Their main objective is to protect their bottom lines, so working to lowering the amount of a settlement should come as no surprise. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you to protect your health information as well as to get the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve.
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Theory
The eggshell plaintiff theory states that a defendant cannot claim that the plaintiff should have been healthier, stronger, in better shape, etc. prior to the accident. You are seen as you are found in that moment. For example, if you already have been suffering from chronic neck pain, possibly making you more prone to whiplash injuries, and were injured as a passenger in a vehicle, the defendant cannot claim that if your neck problems didn’t exist, then you would have sustained less severe injuries. The defendant cannot blame the plaintiff for injuries that were exacerbated by pre-existing injuries. With the eggshell plaintiff theory, if your treating physician testifies that all of your current treatment is for the injury you sustained in this accident, then you can recover the money spent on your medical bills.
The Importance Your Medical Information
As previously stated, the opposing insurance company will want to review as much of your medical history as possible. They may be quite aggressive about this because they want to pay as little as possible for your claim. If they are able to prove to the courts that somehow, your pre-existing injury and the current injury were not related, then you could lose your case. That’s why it’s important to have an aggressive Alabama personal injury attorney to advocate for your rights and protect your medical records. You do not have to give your entire medical history to the opposing insurance company.
It’s also important to make sure your medical records are as detailed as possible. Make sure you communicate this to your treating physician so that he or she can make the distinction between when your pre-existing back or neck injury ended and when your new injury began. Even then, the insurance company can claim you’re using the car accident as an excuse to receive additional medical treatment, which can hurt your claim.
One way to avoid this is to see a new medical professional for your new injuries. That way, it’ll be much more difficult for the opposing insurance company to claim that you are seeking damages and medical care for an old injury. The new medical provider should note what treatments are targeted for the pre-existing injury and what treatments are being used on the new injury.
Finally, it’s extremely important to completely disclose all of your prior injuries to your attorney. The more that he or she knows, the more you can be protected from the aggressive opposing insurance company.
If you have sustained injuries in a car accident through no fault of your own in the Mobile or Birmingham area, you need a fierce and experienced Alabama personal injury attorney. Contact the Carter Law Firm today at (844) 202-4050 or online to learn more about how we can help you.