Preexisting medical conditions are the most common defense insurance companies use to limit recovery after a motor vehicle accident. While certainly related pre-accident injuries are important, there is a lot of misinformation spread to reduce insurance claim value. Speaking with a personal injury attorney and understanding your rights after a car accident are the most important steps you can take to protect your insurance claim.
Meet Mary – a 50-year-old woman with three kids and a history of low back pain. Five years ago, Mary had a spinal fusion surgery on her lumbar discs, but she recovered very well and has not needed additional treatment. One day, Mary is driving her car when Tom glances at his phone and rear-end’s Mary’s SUV. Mary begins to experience pain throughout her neck, shoulders, and low back. She receives chiropractic and massage therapy, which provides immediate relief in her upper spine and shoulder, but her low back remains very problematic. After months of seeking conservative treatment, Mary returns to her surgeon, and a new surgery is required.
Insurance companies often focus on certain details while ignoring other – often more important – facts. For example, the liability insurer might hear that Mary had a preexisting low back surgery and attempt to lump the upper back and shoulder issues into their poor evaluation. Maybe the insurance company sees the prior surgery and seeks to blame all problems related to the low back on the preexisting condition. These common insurance defenses are debunkable.
Mary’s neck and shoulders had never experienced pain before. Insurance companies who generalize prior treatment and refuse to segregate independent injuries are regularly practicing in bad faith or in a gray area hoping that the injured party gives up. Similarly, just because Mary had a preexisting lumbar spinal condition and surgery does not mean the at fault driver is not still responsible. Under Washington law, preexisting medical conditions are often not admissible unless the symptoms were symptomatic and receiving care in the weeks or months before the car accident. Since Mary’s back had been in great condition for five years before the collision, it is possible the insurance company’s defense goes out the window.
Insurance companies have spent millions or even billions of dollars analyzing insurance claim’s practices. They know that if they push the right buttons, injured parties are apt to walk away thinking that the claim holds no value. Personal injury attorneys spend their life dedicated to debunking these myths and helping injured parties get the justice they deserve. At the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS, we work hard to understand our client’s health situations to properly manage and evaluate their car accident claims. Call today for a free case evaluation.