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Pre-Existing Condition in a Car Accident

ambulence in front of a car accident

Motor vehicle collisions can take a heavy physical, emotional and financial toll on the victim. This toll can be even more severe if a victim’s pre-existing condition is aggravated. Insurers in these cases will use a person’s previous medical history against them to avoid paying out. However, an experienced attorney can help you get the most out of your settlement and move on from the accident.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

North Carolina’s Eggshell Plaintiff Rule, also known as the “Eggshell Skull” Rule, holds a negligent driver accountable for a victim’s injuries. A defendant can be liable for all of the plaintiff’s injuries even if the plaintiff has a condition (physical or mental) that made them more susceptible to injury than a person in good health. This can either be a pre-existing injury or physical or mental condition.

Types of Pre-Existing Conditions

There are two categories of injuries: activation and aggravated or exacerbated.

  • Activated means that there was some pre-existing, non-symptomatic condition. For instance, many people have pre-existing degenerative disc disease, but no symptoms. A bad tractor trailer accident could change that and make symptoms start. That is activation.
  • Aggravation or exacerbation are pre-existing are worsened by the accident. Notably, North Carolina does also have a rule called peculiar susceptibility. This rule says that if a car accident was so minor that it would not have caused injury in any form or of ordinary bodily susceptibility, then the defendant is not liable.

Maginnis Howard’s lead personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard recently settled a case for a Randolph County woman injured in a wreck. The woman, sitting in the passenger seat during the accident, had to have neck surgery. She admitted that before the accident she had pre-existing neck conditions that were already causing pain and radicular symptoms down her arm. The crash, however, significantly aggravated and exacerbated these problems to the point that she needed surgery.

Even though the client only had approximately $10,000 in medical expenses, we obtained an extra $100,000 for pain and suffering and other general damages. Had the insurer gotten away with blaming her pre-existing condition, she would not have been able to obtain this settlement for her healing.

Insurance Coverage Issues

In obtaining the $134,000 result, Maginnis Law assisted their client in numerous complex insurance coverage issues. Mr. Howard’s client and her fiancé, the owner of the vehicle, both had an $100,000 under-insured motorist policy. In this case, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy through Allstate, paid out $50,000, the full limits of the policy. The passenger’s policy, through National General, paid out $50,000 and our client’s policy, through GEICO, paid out the final $34,000.

Under-insured motorist coverage pays for some of your bodily injury claim when the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to completely pay for your injuries and losses. In other words, the at-fault driver does not have the amount of coverage necessary to adequately pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Representation for Car Accidents with a Pre-Existing Condition

If you have been injured and the insurance company is claiming that your injuries are all pre-existing, it is important to speak with an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney. This can be a complicated area of the law, in addition to the fact that dealing with insurance claims when you have pre-existing conditions can be extremely difficult.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to someone else’s negligence behind the wheel, contact the Raleigh personal injury attorneys of Maginnis Howard at (919) 526-0450. You can also visit our contact page.