Does Car Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Injuries After an Accident?

Doctor putting bandage on the patient's knee injury.

Few people go through life without suffering some type of injury. For instance, you may hurt your knee while working or playing sports. Many people also develop degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.

Unfortunately, insurance companies often try to use the fact that people have pre-existing injuries or other medical conditions to deny or minimize their claims after they get into car accidents. They are wrong to do so. Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation, the law in South Carolina is on your side – and our team at David Blackwell Law is on your side, too.

What Is a Pre-Existing Injury?

A pre-existing injury or pre-existing condition is, basically, any type of injury or disease that affected your health before you got into a car accident. Because of the injury or disease, you may suffer more harm than another person would as a result of the crash. Still, your pre-existing condition should not matter. You should still be eligible to recover full compensation for any harm that someone else’s negligence has caused you to suffer.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you have a “bad back” caused by degenerative disc disease or by an on-the-job accident that tore muscles and other soft tissue. If a negligent driver hits your car from behind in a rear-end accident, the sharp, sudden jolt could exacerbate your pre-existing back condition. As a result, you could face new medical bills, lost time at work, pain, suffering and other harm. In that situation, the negligent driver should be held fully responsible for the damages you have suffered due to the aggravation of your condition.

Should You Let the Insurance Company See Your Medical Records?

If you suffered a prior injury of any kind, or if you have a degenerative disease or other medical condition, your medical records will reveal it. That is why an insurance company will likely contact you shortly after an auto accident and ask you for you to sign a release that allows the insurer to see your medical records. The insurer basically wants to go on a “fishing expedition” and see if you have any pre-existing condition that it can use to deny your claim or pay you as little as possible.

For instance, if your pre-existing injury is similar to the one you suffered in the car accident, the insurer may argue:

  • The crash did not cause your injury. Instead, your injury already existed.
  • Because you already had the injury, the crash merely aggravated it.

The insurer will likely try to sugarcoat the request to see your medical records. An insurance claims adjuster may tell you over the phone that granting access to the records will allow you to avoid the hassle of getting the records yourself, or it will help the claims process to move forward much smoother so you get your money faster. Don’t fall for it.

Instead, you should simply refer the insurance company to your attorney at David Blackwell Law. We will deal with the insurance company and aggressively protect your rights. Ultimately, we will use our skill and experience to pursue the maximum amount for you – regardless of any injury or disease that you had before your car accident happened.

How Does the ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Doctrine Affect Your Insurance Claim?

Even though you may suffer from a pre-existing injury or disease, the law in South Carolina allows you to recover full compensation for any harm that another person’s negligence has caused – even if that harm is worse than a person in good health might have suffered under the same circumstances. This is commonly called the “eggshell plaintiff” or “eggshell skull” doctrine.

Under this doctrine, the negligent driver (or defendant) must take the accident victim (or plaintiff) as he finds him. This is true for all conditions – even those which a defendant could not have foreseen or which are highly uncommon.

An example is a hemophiliac, or person whose blood does not clot normally, who suffers a cut due to the negligence of another person. The fact that the defendant could not have known of the hemophiliac’s fragile state is not relevant. That person has a right to be free of harm – just like anyone else. That person also has the right to recover damages for any crash-related injuries or aggravation of his or her pre-existing condition.

Insurance companies are well aware of the eggshell plaintiff doctrine. They know that a pre-existing injury does not affect their obligation to pay valid claims. However, they can – and often do – take advantage of people who do not know about the doctrine. For this reason, you should seek immediate help from an experienced South Carolina car accident attorney at David Blackwell Law who will protect your rights.

How Can You Prove Your Accident Made Your Pre-Existing Injury Worse?

At David Blackwell Law, we investigate car accidents on behalf of the injured. As part of that investigation, we obtain our clients’ medical records and review them with independent medical experts. They can shed light on how another driver’s negligence has caused an injury or made a pre-existing injury worse.

We investigate cases thoroughly so we will be ready to negotiate with insurers from a position of strength. We also calculate the full extent of our clients’ losses so that we know we are demanding maximum compensation for what they have suffered through no fault of their own. We have the knowledge, experience and dedication to stand up for them.

Let Our South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Protect You

If your pre-existing medical condition or injury looks like an opportunity for an insurer to low-ball a settlement offer or deny a claim, you can expect them to do so. With David Blackwell Law at your side, the insurance company won’t get away with it. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about pursuing the damages you deserve after a crash. We provide free consultations, and we do not charge for your legal services unless we secure compensation for you.