When trying to decide whether to file a personal injury claim, the injured party may have many questions. One of the most common questions he or she may ask their Chicago personal injury attorney is whether having a pre-existing injury will jeopardize their case. This is a valid concern because the negligent party or their insurance company will likely try to use that information against the injured party to settle for lesser damages or nothing at all. However, the existence of a pre-existing injury does not automatically mean that the injured party cannot seek compensation for their current personal injury claim. This holds true even if the previous injury has been aggravated by the new incident.

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Avoiding Surprises

It is important for the client’s personal injury attorney to be made aware of any pre-existing injuries that may have. Not sharing this information could hurt the client’s case because insurance companies can often find out this information on their own. The injured party should provide their attorney with the following evidence:

  • How long ago did the prior injury occur?
  • What doctors treated the injuries?
  • Were there surgeries involved?
  • Was time lost from work because of the injury?
  • When was the last time the client felt pain from the pre-existing injury prior to the current accident?

It is important to never sign a medical authorization form if asked to by the defendant’s insurance company. By doing so, the injured party is giving that insurer legal permission to access their complete medical history, which is in essence, an invasion of their privacy. The insurer will use that information against the injured party and attempt to say the claim for the new injury may be an attempt to collect for an existing injury.

Claims for Aggravated Pre-Existing Injuries

If the at-fault party’s negligence led to aggravating a previous injury, the injured party may still have a valid case. The injured may have not shown any previous symptoms of pain until the time that they were recently injured. Often, a pre-existing condition may be reactivated from a slip and fall, car crash or other type of accident. Even if the injured party was not aware that they had a previous injury that would have made them more susceptible to receiving the current, the onus is on the negligent party’s side to prove otherwise through discovery.

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