I have a Pre-Existing Injury and My Car Accident Made it Worse – Do I Still Have a Case?
Absolutely. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, a significant percentage of our clients who have been in car crashes are experiencing either aggravation or exacerbation of a health condition that was present before the accident. Under Colorado law and in insurance lingo, a health issue that was present before a crash is known as a “pre-existing condition.” A common myth perpetuated by the insurance companies is that a pre-existing condition hurts the value of your case, and insurers exploit this myth to try to pay you less on your claim. An experienced Boulder car accident attorney will not let this happen to you, because in many cases the opposite is true – a pre-existing condition often increases the value of your case. If you have a pre-existing health condition that has gotten worse after a car crash or other accident, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced Boulder car accident lawyers at 303-543-1000 for a free consultation to discuss your case and how we might be able to help you.How Does an Insurance Company Evaluate a Pre-Existing Condition?
There are two main issues that need to be examined in a case with pre-existing conditions: 1) the degree of aggravation or exacerbation of the pre-existing condition; and 2) whether the pre-existing condition made you more vulnerable to injury.
As to the first issue, a good Boulder car accident attorney will explain to you that the degree of your injury is measured by the difference between what your symptoms were before the crash compared to what they were after the crash. To illustrate, let’s assume that you had a low-back condition before the crash that caused you occasional low-back pain of about 2-3 on a pain scale of 0-10 (0 being pain free, 10 being the worst pain imaginable), which was managed by exercise and occasional over-the-counter pain relievers. In addition, before the crash you were able to perform most of your activities of daily living such as household chores, yardwork, and you were able to play golf on a regular basis. If after the crash your pain levels increased to a 7-8/10, you were needed help with yardwork, and you were unable to play golf, an experienced Boulder car accident lawyer would use these snapshots of your pre and post-crash differences to help measure the degree of your injury that was made worse by the car accident. Further, because you only required over-the-counter medication to manage your condition before the crash, if the crash caused you to require a back surgery, a good Boulder car accident attorney should focus on recovering the cost of the back surgery, including related expenses such as your lost wages caused by missed work during your rehabilitation period.
The second issue that needs to be addressed in a pre-existing condition case is whether your condition made you more susceptible to injury. A knowledgeable Boulder car accident lawyer can tell you that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the medical literature is clear that pre-existing conditions make that part of your body with the condition weaker and therefore more susceptible to the trauma from a crash or other accident. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, we see this principle become very important in crashes where there is minimal property damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. For example, we have represented clients who have had cervical fusion surgeries many years before a crash. The literature is clear that cervical fusions make the vertebrae above and below the fusion experience more stress, and hence, these vertebrae are “weak spots.” When even a minor car accident happens, although the forces involved may be relatively small, they are traumatic to the weak spots above and below the fusion and can have serious consequences ranging from a herniated disc at the level above or below the fusion, to damaging the fusion itself. A good Boulder car accident attorney knows that when a pre-existing condition like a fusion is present, very often even minor car accidents can cause the victim to require expensive surgeries to correct the problem. Our experienced team of Boulder car accident lawyers knows how to handle these claims and can help you optimize your recovery for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and physical impairment and disfigurement.
If you have a pre-existing condition and have been in a car accident, we encourage you to call our friendly and knowledgeable Boulder car accident lawyers at 303-543-1000 to arrange a free consultation to discuss your case.