How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect My Car Accident Injury Claim?

If you’re involved in a car accident in Maryland, DC, or Virginia, one of your immediate concerns might be how your pre-existing medical conditions could affect your injury claim. It’s a common concern among many of our clients at Johnnie Bond Law. Here, we aim to clarify this issue in simple terms, keeping it understandable and relatable.

What Are Pre-Existing Conditions?

A pre-existing condition is any medical issue you had before the car accident. It could be anything from chronic back pain to an old knee injury. These conditions are significant because they can complicate your car accident injury claim.

The Insurance Company’s Perspective

Insurance companies often scrutinize pre-existing conditions. They might argue that your current injuries are merely the result of these prior issues, not the accident. This can be a tactic to reduce the compensation they offer.

Claiming Compensation with Pre-Existing Conditions

It’s important to know that pre-existing conditions don’t disqualify you from receiving compensation. If the car accident worsened your condition, you’re entitled to compensation for that aggravation.

How Compensation is Calculated

The process is intricate and tailored to each case when calculating compensation in car accident injury claims, especially those involving pre-existing conditions. At Johnnie Bond Law, we approach this with a thorough understanding of the complexities involved. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how compensation is calculated:

  1. Understanding the Basics of Compensation: First, it’s essential to grasp the two main compensatory damages in personal injury cases: economic and non-economic damages.
    1. Economic Damages: These are quantifiable costs resulting from the accident. They include medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
    2. Non-Economic Damages: These are more subjective and include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
  2. Evaluating the Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions: In cases with pre-existing conditions, the critical question is: How did the car accident exacerbate these conditions? This evaluation involves other steps:
    1. Medical Analysis: We review medical records before and after the accident to establish a baseline of your health before the incident and to understand how your conditions have worsened.
    2. Professional Opinion: In some cases, we consult a medical professional to provide a professional assessment of the accident’s impact on your pre-existing conditions.
  3. Calculating Economic Damages: We calculate all medical expenses related to exacerbating your pre-existing conditions, including future medical costs. If the aggravation of your condition led to additional time off work, we calculate the lost income, including potential future lost earnings.
  4. Assessing Non-Economic Damages: This calculation is more complex. We consider factors like the severity of the pain, the duration of your suffering, and how the exacerbated conditions impact your daily life.  If the accident led to a diminished quality of life, compensation is calculated based on the severity and permanence of this impact.
  5. The Multiplier Method: We often use the multiplier method for non-economic damages. This involves taking the total economic damages and multiplying them by a number (usually between 1.5 to 5) based on the severity of the aggravation of your pre-existing conditions.
  6. Considering Comparative Negligence: The principle of comparative negligence might apply in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. If you are found partly at fault for the accident, your compensation can be reduced by your percentage of fault.
  7. Adjustments for Insurance Policy Limits: The at-fault party’s insurance policy limits might also influence the compensation. We aim to maximize your compensation within these constraints and explore other avenues, like underinsured motorist coverage, if applicable.
  8. Settlement vs. Trial: The final compensation amount can also be influenced by whether the case is settled out of court or goes to trial. Payments often lead to quicker resolutions but might be for lower amounts than what could be awarded in court.

Tips for Protecting Your Claim

  1. Be Honest About Your Medical History: Always be upfront about your medical history. Concealing pre-existing conditions can harm your claim.
  2. Follow Medical Advice: Strictly follow your doctor’s advice post-accident. This shows that you’re committed to your recovery, which is essential for your claim.
  3. Keep Detailed Records: Keep detailed records of all your medical appointments and treatments and how your condition has changed since the accident.

Let’s Discuss Your Case

If you’re dealing with a car accident injury and worried about how your pre-existing conditions might affect your claim, let’s talk. Call us at (202) 683-6803 or online to schedule a free consultation. At Johnnie Bond Law, we’re here to help you through these challenging times with compassion and experience.