Can I Be Compensated For Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

Auto accident involving two cars on a city street

Following a car accident in New York City, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other crash-related damages. What about compensation for your pre-existing conditions? Maybe, as long as the crash has made your condition worse.

However, the fact that you have pre-existing conditions can complicate matters. Insurance companies will undoubtedly try to use your health against you in an effort to get out of paying you the money you deserve. The best course of action is to enlist the help of a qualified and experienced NYC car accident lawyer.

At Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C., our legal team has 200-plus years of experience handling personal injury cases in New York. We know what it takes to win – and our results show it. We’ve successfully obtained more than $1 Billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of injured clients just like you. We’ll fight tirelessly to help you maximize your recovery, including money for aggravated pre-existing injuries.

Our team offers a free consultation, so don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule a time to sit down with us today. We represent clients all across New York City and the surrounding areas, including those in the five boroughs, on Long Island, and in Westchester County.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is, very simply, a health condition, injury, or illness that existed before you were involved in your car accident. 

For example, let’s say you fell and broke a rib on Monday. Then, on Tuesday, you got into a car accident in the Bronx. Your broken rib would be a pre-existing condition. It was an injury that pre-dated your car accident. 

When Can I Recover Compensation For a Pre-Existing Health Condition?

As a general rule of thumb, you can’t be compensated for your pre-existing conditions. However, there is an exception. You can recover compensation if a car accident makes your pre-existing condition worse

Doctor with radiological chest x-ray film for medical diagnosis on patient's health

Let’s go back to that broken rib. You can’t recover compensation for the broken rib that you suffered in a slip and fall the day before your collision. However, what happens if, because of the car accident, you sustain a pretty severe chest injury.

Part of the reason for this chest injury is the fact that your ribcage wasn’t as strong as it usually is because of the broken rib. Now your rib has fractured even more. Shards have moved inward toward your organs and caused some internal injuries. 

The car accident has made your broken rib worse. You can seek compensation for the damage above and beyond what you’d already suffered. 

The At-Fault Party Takes You As You Are

New York embraces something called the eggshell doctrine (sometimes known as the eggshell skull or thin skin rule). This means that the defendant can’t say that you were injured because of your pre-existing health conditions. They have to take you as you are

For instance, let’s say a 36-year-old woman rear-end an 87-year-old man. That 87-year-old happened to suffer from osteoporosis and arthritis, making them very susceptible to serious injury. And, in fact, that 87-year-old does get really hurt in the crash. The 36-year-old can’t avoid liability for those injuries just because the old man was very susceptible to injury.

The fact of the matter is that you can’t pick and choose who the victim is. The victim would have been fine had the 36-year-old not crashed into them at a red light. It’s the negligent driver who caused the harm.

Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer If You Have a Pre-Existing Injury or Medical Condition 

Judge signing paperwork,  banging gavel near stethoscope

While you might be entitled to compensation for your crash-related injuries and any aggravations to your pre-existing health conditions, getting money in your hands might be difficult. Here’s why it can be critical to enlist the help of our NYC personal injury attorneys for help navigating your car accident case.

Insurance Companies Will Try to Claim Your Injuries Pre-Dated Your Crash

You usually cannot recover compensation for injuries and conditions that existed before your auto accident. So, don’t be surprised when insurers go to great lengths to say that some or all of your car accident injuries pre-dated the collision. If these tactics are successful, the company can deny to issue payment for the costs related to those conditions. 

Example: Joe is involved in a car accident in downtown Manhattan. He suffers a concussion in the crash. The insurance company learns that Joe is an avid soccer player and denies his request to be compensated for the head injury. Why? They claim that he sustained the head trauma in a recent soccer game, not the collision caused by their insured driver.

How can you stop these tactics from working? By supporting your claim with solid evidence and facts. Our team will work diligently to gather the information that’s necessary to prove that your injury was, in fact, caused by your car accident.

Evidence that can prove to be helpful might include:

  • Medical records, from both before and after your accident
  • Statements from the doctor or medical professionals who treated your injury after the car accident, and
  • Statements from experts and professionals who have reviewed your medical records and details of the crash, describing, step by step, how the injury was most likely sustained.

Never give an insurance company full access to your medical records or history. This can end up causing a lot of damage to your injury case. That’s why we’ll only provide copies of very specific excerpts of your medical files.

Valuing a Personal Injury Case Can Be Challenging If You Have Pre-Existing Conditions

The fact that you have a prior injury or health condition can complicate the valuation process. Since you can’t receive damages for injuries or illnesses that pre-dated your crash, you’ll have to figure out the cost associated with the aggravation of those conditions. That can be difficult, especially as you and insurance companies are working to drive the value in opposite directions.

Our lawyers will invest the time and resources that are necessary to identify where your pre-existing condition begins and ends. We’ll bring in experts to review your medical records and your crash to provide insight about how the crash has likely affected your condition and made it worse. With their help, we can ensure that we back our demands for compensation with persuasive evidence and testimony.

A Car Accident Aggravated a Pre-Existing Condition. How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

lawsuit document

Generally speaking, New York state law imposes a strict three-year statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits. In most cases, the clock starts ticking the moment you’re involved in a crash and get hurt.

What happens if you don’t discover that the crash has aggravated your injuries? What if it takes a little while for doctors to connect your health complications with your recent accident? If there’s a reasonable delay in the discovery of an injury, the statute of limitations can be tolled until that discovery occurs. 

This means that the clock might not start to run until you learn about your injury or aggravated condition. 

However, don’t simply assume that this will be the case for you. If you’re wrong and you end up waiting too long, you’ll lose the right to recover compensation from at-fault parties. 

You can protect yourself and your financial recovery by calling Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. for immediate assistance after a crash. We can begin to work on your accident claim as soon as you schedule a free consultation and decide to move forward with our law firm.

What Damages Can I Get If My Pre-Existing Conditions Are Aggravated?

When an accident causes a pre-existing condition to get worse, or make you susceptible to further injury, you can seek compensation for:

  • Medical bills (above and beyond the cost of treatment for the initial condition)
  • Lost income and wages
  • Disability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Wrongful death, and more.

Don’t let insurance companies bully you or scare you into accepting less money than you deserve. Call Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. and let our New York City personal injury lawyers take the lead on your case. We’ll fight to maximize your financial recovery.

Call Our NYC Injury Lawyers For Help

Compensation may be available to you if a pre-existing health condition has gotten worse because of a recent car accident in New York City. The experienced legal team at Mirman, Markovits & Landau, P.C. will help you fight to get every last dollar you need and deserve.

We know you probably have a lot of questions, which is why our law firm offers a free initial case evaluation. Give us a call to schedule yours today to learn more about your rights and legal options.