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Pre-existing conditions in an injury case

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In Florida, a no-fault state, the minimum amount of insurance required is $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits. However, the Florida Financial Responsibility Law, which is regulated by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, requires more – $10,000 minimum for bodily injury for the other driver and $20,000 for bodily injury per accident.

While the general idea is for the accident to be "no-fault," it can financially become the risky driver's fault quickly when it comes to finances. However, there are certain limits to what can be considered when it comes to injuries. For example, let's say the at-fault driver becomes dizzy and distraught after the accident due to personal choices on diet. A medical report surfaces, informing the insurers that one driver was a Type 2 diabetic and had not taken insulin all day. While this can fall into the umbrella of risky driving, the opposing attorney would have to prove that those same dietary decisions directly caused the accident. Trying to blame the accident on a pre-existing condition like diabetes could prove to be a waste of time. The same could be said for other pre-existing conditions like lupus or adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), both of which are not a direct reflection of driving behavior.

There are cases in which preexisting injuries can factor into an injury case. For example, consider that a driver is rear-ended by another driver. The non-risky driver already had issues due to a spinal injury from a labor-intensive job and is now on disability. If that auto accident led to further physical issues with his back, this pre-existing condition could be considered a "new" injury. If the "bodily injury" expense exceeds the risky driver's medical insurance coverage, there is a possibility that one will be sued. The non-risky driver would likely have to see a primary care physician, emergency room doctor and/or chiropractor to prove that the severity of his or her back injuries increased. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or some other form of solid proof could be a requirement to pay off additional physical expenses.

While cases have sided for and against parties with pre-existing conditions, these factors make it that much more important to seek medical attention immediately. For example, if the driver with the back injury opts out of going to an emergency room and/or seeking medical attention for an extended period of time, it'll be that much harder to prove new back injuries are related to the vehicular accident. The risky driver's legal representation could call into question whether the injured party participated in other activities that caused the injury.

Neither party should assume that pre-existing conditions would automatically negate their insurance claim. Just as the Affordable Care Act allows patients with pre-existing conditions to seek alternative health insurance, the same applies for medical coverage related to auto accidents in Florida.

If you've been hurt in a car crash in Melbourne or Titusville, call our compassionate, dedicated auto accident attorneys today and discover why we're the right law firm for your case.

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