Pre-existing medical conditions can be a factor in how insurance companies, lawyers, and courts evaluate a personal injury claim in South Carolina. But having a pre-existing condition does not necessarily prevent you from receiving compensation for an injury you suffered in a fall, car accident, or other preventable incident.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys in Rock Hill know how to assess your losses and hold the parties at fault accountable for the harm they caused. Contact us if a pre-existing condition is impacting your compensation claim.
What Counts as a Pre-Existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that existed before you sustained injuries in an accident. Insurance companies use the concept of a pre-existing condition to distinguish between costs and losses they should cover and those they shouldn’t.
Here’s an illustration. Someone may have broken their arm in a fall at home and asked a friend to drive them to the hospital. On the way, a careless driver crashed into the friend’s car, causing the individual with the broken arm to suffer a leg fracture.
The at-fault driver’s liability insurance company may agree to pay the cost of setting and putting a cast on the injured leg. But it may refuse to pay for care of the broken arm since that was a pre-existing condition that their policyholder didn’t cause.
How Insurers Leverage Pre-Existing Conditions as a Reason Not to Pay
The illustration above might seem reasonable. But, many cases involving pre-existing conditions are not so straightforward. Often, the line between a pre-existing condition and a new injury is difficult to pinpoint. Insurance companies take advantage of that uncertainty to deny or limit claims that they really ought to pay in full.
As another example, if an individual has appendicitis, and in the impact of the car accident, their already-swollen appendix bursts, it could result in a costly medical emergency. They may have surgery and require a lengthy hospitalization to save their life. Should the at-fault driver’s insurance have to pay for the expensive medical care?
It might depend on whether the car accident aggravated the appendicitis or caused new health problems or expenses that they wouldn’t have otherwise faced.
The insurance company might argue that the crash made no difference — say, that the appendix would have burst before the person reached the hospital regardless or that they would have needed the same care even if it hadn’t. And for that reason, they might refuse to pay.
How an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights
But that doesn’t mean someone is stuck with the insurance company’s decision. By law and contract, liability insurers must pay for the harm their policyholders cause, and that includes when an accident aggravates a pre-existing condition or adds to the costs or losses one suffered because of a pre-existing condition.
Sticking with the appendicitis example, someone can rightfully demand compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurer for any physical, emotional, or financial harm flowing from their burst appendix they would not have sustained had it not been for the crash.
For instance, an experienced personal injury lawyer could gather and present evidence to prove that a person would have reached the hospital without their appendix bursting if the crash had not happened. Or the lawyer might have reason to argue that even if the appendix had burst on its own, the delay getting to the hospital due to the accident made their condition far worse than it would have been if prompt care had been received.
In other words, your pre-existing condition does not prevent you from seeking compensation. In many situations, a skilled lawyer can pinpoint ways that someone’s wrongful acts add to the complication, suffering, and expense of that condition. Then, the lawyer can get to work securing fair payment for those damages from the party at fault and their insurer.
Contact a South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer at Elrod Pope Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a preventable accident or incident caused by someone else’s negligence in Rock Hill and throughout South Carolina, you have the legal right to receive compensation, even if you had a pre-existing health condition. The experienced personal injury lawyers at the Elrod Pope Law Firm can help. We routinely handle personal injury cases for clients who have pre-existing conditions, and we have a stellar track record of getting them significant results. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.
FAQs About Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury
Can I sue for a personal injury if I have a health problem that makes me especially prone to getting sick or hurt?
Yes — you have the right not to be harmed by other people’s wrongdoing, no matter what your condition. Lawyers refer to this as the “eggshell plaintiff” principle — even someone whose bones break at the slightest bump can sue if the bump was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
What if my own insurance company refuses to cover a pre-existing condition?
We can help. Insurers in South Carolina must treat you fairly when you have a claim, and if they don’t, the team at the Elrod Pope Law Firm can hold them accountable.