If you have a chronic injury, illness, or other long-term medical impairment, you are far from alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 percent of Americans have “chronic pain.” Even more people have other health-related issues. In the personal injury claims process, these long-term issues can get labeled as “pre-existing conditions.”
Unfortunately, the defendants and insurance companies may try to use a pre-existing condition against a person in order to reduce their financial compensation. It is crucial that you know how to protect your rights and interests. In this article, our San Joaquin Valley personal injury lawyer provides a guide to pre-existing conditions and personal injury claims in California.
Your Pre-Existing Condition Should Not Be Held Against You
The most important thing to understand about pre-existing conditions and personal injury claims in California is that your pre-existing condition should not be held against you by the defendant or insurance company. While the at-fault party is not liable for a pre-existing injury or medical impairment, they can be held liable for any new injury and/or aggravation of previous injuries. You may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Permanent disability/disfigurement.
Understanding the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule
California law recognizes that many people are more vulnerable because they have pre-existing medical conditions. There is a common law legal doctrine called the eggshell plaintiff rule (eggshell skull rule) that holds that defendants/insurers cannot escape liability because of pre-existing conditions. As explained by Cornell Legal Information Institute, the doctrine holds that a defendant is still “liable for any injury that is magnified by the plaintiff’s peculiar characteristics.” In other words, a person who sustained an especially severe injury in an accident because they were vulnerable due to their pre-existing condition has the right to seek full financial compensation.
Do Not Sign a Release for Medical Records Without Speaking to a San Joaquin Valley Lawyer
Whether you were hurt in a car crash, slip and fall accident, or any other type of incident, you can expect that an insurance company will request your medical records. As part of the claims process, a defendant or insurer will have some right to receive relevant medical documentation. They do not necessarily have the right to comb through your entire medical history.
Yet, insurance carriers often ask people to sign over all of their medical records so that they can look for any excuse to deny the claim or otherwise reduce a settlement offer, including on the grounds of a pre-existing condition. Before you sign any release for your medical records, you should consult with an experienced San Joaquin Valley personal injury lawyer.
Contact Our San Joaquin Valley Personal Injury Attorney Today
At Redkey Gordon Law Corp, our San Joaquin Valley personal injury lawyers fight aggressively to help injured victims maximize their recovery. Contact us today for a free, no strings attached review of your case. We are well-positioned to represent injured victims throughout the San Joaquin Valley, including in Stockton, Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, Tulare, Visalia, Hanford, and Merced.