Car Accident Claims and Pre-Existing Conditions
July 8, 2020 – Matt Albrecht
Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of very serious injuries in Washington. The road to recovery after a significant crash can be both long and frustrating. If you are already dealing with a pre-existing medical issue, making a full physical and mental recovery from a car crash is all the more challenging.
This raises an important question: How are pre-existing conditions handled in the car accident injury claims process? The short answer is that pre-existing conditions are not covered, but medical issues “made worse” by the crash should be compensated. Below, we offer a more detailed explanation of pre-existing conditions and personal injury cases.
No Recovery for Pre-Existing Conditions, Compensation Available for Aggravation
You cannot recover financial compensation for injuries that are wholly unrelated to the crash. In other words, a pre-existing condition is grounds of an insurer/defendant to deny compensation—at least for those specific medical costs. That being said, you can recover financial compensation for injuries or medical conditions that were aggravated or otherwise made worse by the accident. Of course, distinguishing a pre-existing condition from an aggravated injury is not always so straightforward. Disputes can arise.
Washington State Follows the ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Standard
Washington operates using a legal principle that is sometimes referred to as the eggshell plaintiff standard. As described in the Washington Civil Jury Instructions, defendants can be held liable for the full extent of a plaintiff’s damage even if that plaintiff was particularly susceptible to suffering harm in an accident.
That a plaintiff was already dealing with a pre-existing medical issue is not a defense. Indeed, Washington juries are instructed to consider all of the injuries and damages caused by the negligent act, even though a pre-existing condition may have made those damages worse than they would have otherwise been.
The Importance of Comprehensive, Well-Documented Medical Evidence
Insurance companies are fundamentally focused on protecting their own profits. They will look for any opportunity that they can find to limit the value of a settlement offer. If an insurer can blame your medical bills on a pre-existing condition, they may try to do so in order to reduce their own liability.
For this reason, it is imperative that plaintiffs have comprehensive, well-organized medical records. If your pre-existing injury or medical condition was made worse by a collision, our Spokane car accident lawyers will help you build a case to maximize your financial recovery. The tortfeasor (the party responsible for the wrongful act) is legally liable for the damages that actually occur as a consequence of their negligence—even if the victim was unusually vulnerable or fragile.
Call Our Spokane, WA Auto Accident Attorneys for Immediate Help
At Albrecht Law PLLC, our Spokane traffic accident lawyers fight aggressively to help clients recover the maximum available compensation. If you have questions about car accidents and pre-existing conditions, we are here to help. To set up your free consultation, please contact our Spokane law office right away by calling (509) 495-1246. We represent injured victims throughout Eastern Washington.
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