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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim in North Carolina?

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the negligent actions of another individual, business, or entity in North Carolina, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. However, what happens if you have a pre-existing injury or illness? Can insurance carriers or a personal injury jury use these pre-existing conditions against you?

Here, we want to discuss how a pre-existing injury can affect your personal injury claim and your ability to recover compensation for your losses.

Pre-Existing Injury

How Would a Pre-Existing Injury Change the Trajectory of a Personal Injury Claim?

Many people wonder how a pre-existing injury or illness could even begin to affect a personal injury claim in North Carolina. In order to explain why pre-existing conditions matter, we have to examine the nature of insurance carriers.

Insurance carriers are typically “for-profit” entities focused on making money. Anytime they have to pay out money in a claim, this cuts into their bottom line. Insurance claims adjusters will do anything they can to limit how much money they payout for a settlement. This will include looking into various defenses, one of which is to explore whether or not the claimant has any pre-existing injuries or conditions that could explain their current pain and suffering.

When an insurance carrier starts investigating a claim (and you can be sure that they will investigate the claim), they are going to do more than simply investigate the incident in question. They are going to look at the claimant’s past medical history if they can to see if there are any pre-existing injuries or illnesses that could be used in their favor.

Why would the insurance carrier even know about pre-existing injuries?

One of the most common mistakes that injury claimants make is signing over their medical records to other parties involved in the case. Often, this is done because they did not fully read a release form that they signed. Releasing a complete medical history to an insurance carrier is a mistake because you can be sure that the claims adjusters will comb through all of the records and look at everything. This will include looking at prior injuries sustained, whether those injuries occur as a result of vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, slip and fall incidents, and more.

There are a variety of existing injuries or illnesses that insurance carriers could use to try to explain away an injury claimant’s current symptoms. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Any previous back or neck injuries
  • Current arthritis
  • A diagnosis of fibromyalgia
  • Previous bone dislocations
  • Previous spinal cord or head injuries
  • Ongoing or previous joint pain

Insurance carriers, once they find out about a pre-existing injury or illness that could help them deny a claim, will cling to that past. They will not care whether or not the incident in question caused a brand new injury or aggravated a pre-existing condition. They are going to do what they can to deny the claim.

Securing Compensation if You Have a Pre-Existing Injury

Most individuals sustain injuries at some point in their lifetime, but this should not prevent them from recovering compensation if they are injured due to the negligence of others at a later point in life. A pre-existing injury or illness is not reason enough to prevent a person from securing compensation through an insurance settlement. If that were the case, there would not be very many personal injury claims, and negligent parties would walk free from liability all the time.

If you or somebody you care about has sustained an injury caused by the negligence of another individual or entity in North Carolina, work with a skilled Raleigh personal injury lawyer who can handle every aspect of the claims process.