Insurance companies have the right to examine the validity of a claim before they pay any compensation to an injured person, but they are not allowed to deny legitimate claims. This does not stop aggressive insurance agents from attempting to minimize the liability of their at-fault client by arguing that your injury existed before the accident.
However, under California law, you have a legal right to ask for damages if you had a preexisting “physical or emotional condition that was made worse by… the wrongful conduct” of the defendant. In addition, California courts instruct juries to follow the “eggshell” rule, which recognizes that a preexisting condition can make someone more susceptible to injury. For example, if you end up with a herniated disk that requires surgery after being rear-ended, the defendant cannot use the information that you were previously diagnosed with disk degeneration against you — as long as you can show that the collision caused the compromised disk to rupture.
Making a successful auto accident claim that involves a preexisting condition has its own set of challenges, so keep these tips in mind:
- Never give the insurance company access to your medical records
- Make an appointment with your regular physician as soon as possible
- Schedule an MRI if you experience any back or neck pain
- Keep a written record of your symptoms
- Speak with a qualified personal injury attorney
People with preexisting conditions sometimes feel they are partially to blame for their injury — especially if the insurance company accuses them of overreacting or making false statements. A San Luis Obispo personal injury attorneywith experience handling auto accident compensation can explain your legal rights and, if necessary, help you get the right medical care.