video calls availableFree Consultation
Get a Free Consultation
Florida Attorneys Karina Perez Ilić and Silvia Amador Brett sitting at table in front of red brick wall

Pre-Existing Conditions in Car Accident Cases

Get a Free Consultation
Posted on June 9, 2022

Not all crash victims are in perfect health at the time of their car accidents. Many have pre-existing injuries and conditions, such as back problems or brain injuries, that can complicate the car insurance claims process. Insurance companies will look for any reason to deny a claim or diminish a payout, including pre-existing conditions. Find out what to expect from a car insurance company during your claim as someone with a pre-existing condition.

The Eggshell Skull Doctrine Protects Your Right to Recover Compensation

The main legal doctrine that applies to car accident cases involving pre-existing conditions is the Eggshell Skull Rule. This doctrine states that a defendant will be liable (legally responsible) for a plaintiff’s reaction to the defendant’s negligence or wrongdoing, even if this reaction is unforeseeable and uncommon. A defendant lawfully must take a plaintiff as he or she is, including with any pre-existing conditions.

What this rule means is that a car insurance company in Florida cannot deny your claim based solely on the fact that you have a pre-existing medical condition or injury. The insurance company is liable for paying for your accident – and your related medical bills – if Florida’s insurance laws make the company liable, regardless of whether your medical history includes pre-existing health problems.

The Eggshell Skull Rule only applies if your pre-existing condition is relevant to your car accident case. You cannot seek compensation purely for your pre-existing condition; however, if the crash exacerbated an injury that you already had or your pre-existing condition made the severity of your car accident injuries worse, the insurance company will be liable for the full extent of your injuries and losses based on this legal doctrine.

How to Handle an Insurance Claim in Florida With a Pre-Existing Condition

Although a pre-existing condition will not bar you from financial recovery after a car accident in Florida, it can make the insurance settlement process more difficult. Be prepared for an insurance company to request full access to your medical records – a tactic often used to search for a reason to deny your claim. Rather than signing a Medical Authorization Form sent to you by an insurance company, only grant access to the specific medical records that are relevant to your case. This can help prevent an insurer from denying your claim based only on a pre-existing condition.

It is important, however, to fully disclose a relevant pre-existing condition or injury to an insurance company during the claims process. Trying to hide a pre-existing condition can hurt you. If it is discovered by the insurance company, the withholding of material information will be a valid reason to deny your claim – and potentially even lead to charges of insurance fraud. Rather than hiding this information, disclose it to the insurance company right away, along with medical records and other evidence to prove the connection between your current physical state and the car accident.

When to Contact a Car Accident Attorney

In Florida, the no-fault system means that you will seek benefits from your own car insurer unless you suffered a serious injury. Unfortunately, you may still encounter difficulty obtaining fair compensation from your own insurer if you have a pre-existing condition. If an insurance company attempts to deny your claim based on a pre-existing condition it found in your medical records, consult with a car accident lawyer in Tampa for assistance defending your right to recover.

An attorney can help you prove that the injury you are claiming was not pre-existing or that the car accident exacerbated a condition that you already had. In addition, a lawyer can help you fight for maximum financial compensation if an insurance company is trying to reduce your recovery because of a pre-existing condition. A lawyer can have a doctor testify on your behalf, for example, and use your medical records to help prove your case. A car accident attorney will not allow an insurance company to take advantage of you during the claims process.