This is a double edge sword. On one hand, pre-existing conditions likely make someone more susceptible to an injury that an otherwise healthy person might not sustain, and the at-fault carrier takes you as they find you, warts and all.
They are not responsible for any pre-existing conditions, but they are responsible for any short term, long term, or permanent aggravation the accident causes to any pre-existing conditions.
On the other hand, the at-fault carrier will try to blame everything (one’s post-accident injuries, treatment, and any residuals) on the natural progression of one’s pre-existing conditions.
There are several keys in managing claims for plaintiffs with pre-existing conditions:
- If possible, treat with someone familiar with your pre-existing condition. Such a provider will hopefully be able to separate what was old, what is new, and how to apportion between the two any overlapping symptoms and treatment;
- Don’t hide your pre-existing history. Make sure your provider acknowledges your pre-existing conditions, especially if they had treated your prior to the most recent accident. Be honest with providers so they can get ahead of the curve and address how your post-accident complaints are different and/ can help quantify the degree to which pre-existing conditions have been made worse because of the accident
- Be very detailed and specific to your providers when relating the difference between old and new complaints and/or the degree in which old complaints have been made worse.
- Be realistic. Ask your provider what, if any, of the treatment received after the accident would likely (probably) have been needed because of the natural progression of your pre-existing conditions. Ask the likelihood your pre-existing conditions would have continued to deteriorate (and to what degree/extent) over time had the accident not occurred.