How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Accident Claim?

car crash hit and runIf you are injured in an accident, whether at work, on the highway, in a public place, or even on private property, it can sometimes be easy to determine your damages. If you broke your leg, suffered a concussion, or sustained cuts and/or bruises, for example, it is easy to evaluate the medical expenses, time lost from work, and the pain you experienced during your recovery. Not all victims, however, are in perfect health before an accident. You might still be recovering from a previous accident or injury. You might have a chronic condition that causes intermittent or constant pain. You may even have a condition that makes you more susceptible to certain injuries.

Eggshell Doctrine

It is well established in personal injury law that the prior condition cannot be used against an injured person, even if their condition makes them more susceptible to injury than the average person. For example, a person who has had prior back injuries, surgery, or other procedures may suffer aggravation from those injuries or sustain new injuries in a crash that may have caused little to no damage to someone who didn’t have a pre-existing condition.  Nevertheless, the person responsible for an accident is responsible for all injuries in such a situation.

 

Proving Damages

To make a successful claim for damages when an injured person has pre-existing conditions, it will be necessary to determine with as much accuracy as possible the person’s condition both before and after the new injury. This will involve obtaining detailed medical records, the person’s work history, and in many cases, testimony from the injured person, their family members or caretakers, and medical professionals.

 

Proving out of pocket expenses, such as medical expenses and lost wages, may be fairly straightforward. If the person was seeing his doctor, chiropractor, or receiving other medical treatment once a month prior to the new injury and then more often after the new injury, the amount of increased medical expenses can be calculated with accuracy. If he was back at work following a job injury but had to miss work following the new accident, lost wages are easy to determine. Determining damages for pain and suffering is more difficult when an injured person has a prior injury or a pre-existing condition. It will be necessary to determine what the person’s level of activity and level of pain was both before and after the new accident or injury.

 

New York Accident Attorneys

Insurance companies are in business to make money, and that means limiting the amounts they pay out in claims.  Insurance adjusters will try to use your pre-existing conditions against you. It is vital to call an experienced accident attorney as soon as possible so the evidence needed to establish the damages you incurred from the new accident or injury can be gathered and preserved. The accident experts at O’Brien and Ford are always available for free consultations. Visit our website at http://obrienandford.com to learn more.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage in New York

Minimum Insurance Requirements

Car Insurance MinimumsAll drivers and vehicle owners in New York are required to carry insurance. Failing to do so may result in fines and the suspension of one’s driver’s license. The minimum insurance required is:

  • Property damage: $10,000 per accident.
  • Bodily Injury: $25,000 for injury to one person; $50,000 for injury to two or more people
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 for injury to one person; $50,000 for injury to two or more people.
  • Death Benefits: $50,000 per person, or $100,000 per accident.

Under New York’s no-fault law, if you are involved in a minor accident, your insurance will cover your property damage and injuries up to the limits stated above. If you suffer serious or permanent injuries in an accident in which another driver was negligent, you may sue the other driver for your damages above the no-fault limits. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore the law and either let their insurance policies lapse or fail to carry insurance at all. Others carry only the minimum required coverage. What happens when the other driver has no insurance?

An Uninsured Accident Scenario

Suppose, for example, you are in an accident with a drunk driver and you suffer broken bones and other injuries. Broken bones are automatically considered serious injuries, which means the no-fault limits do not apply. You may sue a drunk driver for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, if the driver only carried the required minimum insurance or had no insurance at all, you only have two choices: try to obtain a judgment against the driver and collect directly from him/her or make a claim against your own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage.

The likelihood of being able to collect damages from an uninsured driver is pretty small, so it is probable that you will have to make a claim under your uninsured motorist policy. In this scenario, it is easy to see how your damages can exceed the required minimum uninsured motorist amounts. The medical expenses alone from even one broken bone can exceed $25,000. If your entire family is injured, the $50,000 per accident minimum will be completely inadequate.

Protect Yourself

Don’t wait until an accident happens to find out if you are adequately covered. Make sure you have enough uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family in case you are in an accident with a driver who carries only the legal minimum coverage or no insurance at all. Talk to your insurance agent about your options. As soon as possible after an accident, talk to a New York accident attorney who can help determine all possible sources of payment. The experts at O’Brien and Ford will help you receive full compensation for your injuries, including your medical expenses and pain and suffering. Call us for a free consultation at (716) 907-7777