If you have been injured in an accident, you may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to obtain compensation for your damages and losses. Since Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, you should file a claim with your own insurance company to recover damages. However, are you entitled to compensation if you have a pre-existing injury?
In other words, will your pre-existing injury, which was not caused by the most recent accident, hurt your personal injury claim in Florida? The information provided below is for informational purposes. If you need to seek legal advice, consult with a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney to discuss your particular situation.
What is a Pre-Existing Injury?
Pre-existing injuries, also known as pre-existing conditions, are the injuries you experienced before the accident for which you are filing a personal injury claim in Florida.
Accident victims with pre-existing injuries are likely to get their claim denied or undervalued simply because their injury existed before the date of the accident. However, you may still be entitled to compensation with a pre-existing condition if your injury was exacerbated or aggravated by the latest accident.
How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?
Once you file a personal injury claim in Florida, investigating whether or not you have any pre-existing injuries is the first thing the insurance company will do. If any pre-existing condition is discovered, the insurer may have grounds to minimize the value of your claim or deny it altogether.
It is not uncommon for insurance companies to reject personal injury claims by arguing that the plaintiff’s injuries were not actually caused by the accident for which the claim was filed.
As absurd as it might sound, a pre-existing condition could actually benefit your personal injury claim. Since insurance companies reduce and reject claims based on arguments that the plaintiff’s injury occurred before the accident, having any pre-accident medical records will help you establish the severity and extent of your pre-existing injury.
Someone who has not visited doctors or undergone a medical checkup for years may have a hard time proving that they had no pre-existing condition. That, in turn, may give an insurance company grounds to cast doubt on your health before the accident. In fact, having records of your pre-existing injuries could actually serve as evidence to prove that the accident made your pre-existing condition worse.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Theory in Florida
If you have a pre-existing injury and are trying to seek compensation through a personal injury claim, you may wonder, “Will my claim be denied because of my pre-existing condition?” The answer can be found in the legal theory called “eggshell plaintiff” in Florida.
Under the theory, a defendant must accept the injured victim as they find them. Just because the victim had a pre-existing injury prior to the accident does not mean that they are less entitled to compensation.
In other words, the defendant cannot use the injured party’s pre-existing condition to argue that they are not liable for damages. The victim is entitled to compensation if their injury, which existed prior to the accident, was aggravated or exacerbated by the at-fault party’s negligence.
Can You Hide Your Pre-Existing Condition from the Insurance Company?
If you have a pre-existing condition, the worst thing you can do is hide your previous injuries from the insurer. Insurance companies thoroughly comb through a claimant’s medical records to discover any pre-existing injuries in order to reduce compensation or reject a claim altogether.
Being candid about your pre-existing conditions is an important thing to do when filing a personal injury claim in Florida. It is best to fully disclose all pre-existing injuries in order to receive proper treatment and prevent the insurance company from claiming that you attempted to conceal your pre-existing condition from them.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your claim, covering up a pre-existing injury may be considered fraud, and it may jeopardize your legitimate personal injury case.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida
If your pre-existing condition was worsened by the accident, medical records would serve as a crucial piece of evidence to establish how the recent traumatic event affected your previous injury.
When an insurance company discovers your pre-existing condition, it will most likely attempt to discredit your injury in order to undervalue or reject your claim. Detailed medical documentation can help you prove that your personal injury claim is valid, which is why it is essential to seek medical attention right away.
It is advised to speak with a skilled personal injury attorney in Florida to determine whether you are entitled to compensation if you have a pre-existing condition. Personal injury claims are a time-sensitive matter, especially if the claimant has a pre-existing injury, which is why you should not hesitate to discuss your case with an attorney.
While a pre-existing condition may complicate your personal injury case and give the insurer grounds to undervalue or deny your claim, you may still be entitled to compensation if:
- Your pre-existing injury was aggravated or exacerbated by the recent accident;
- You have detailed medical documentation to prove that the accident worsened your previous injury; and
- You are represented by a personal injury attorney.
Also, keep in mind that hiding your pre-existing condition from the insurance company is not a good idea. Being candid about your previous injuries could actually help you obtain a favorable outcome and maximize compensation.