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How do Preexisting Injuries Affect Personal Injury Claims?

Insurance companies are always looking for ways to minimize your claim. Companies will try to parse out every detail of your claim that could mitigate their liability and therefore your claim payout. One of the most common ways they will do this is by looking for proof of preexisting injuries when reviewing your medical records.

If you seek compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, for example, and had a prior back injury, the insurance company will probably argue it is not liable for all your medical bills as they were incurred—in part—because of your previous injury.

How Preexisting Injuries Affect Claims

The insurance company might still have to pay your claim if you have a preexisting injury. If the liable party’s actions were the proximate cause of your injuries, you have a right to compensation. But insurance companies routinely use evidence of preexisting injuries to claim they do not have to compensate you fully for your medical bills. You should be cautious whenever speaking with insurance companies after an accident if you have preexisting injuries.

To receive fair compensation for your losses, you will need to provide medical records. But the insurance company doesn’t have a right to see all of your medical records. They will ask you to sign a release that gives them the right to ask your providers for records directly. The records the medical provider hands over are typically more detailed than the ones you may have access to. The company will then search through those complete records for a reason to minimize your claim.

Releasing Records

When asked to sign a release, make sure you are only giving them access to relevant medical records. You can specify in the release what specific records—typically those created after your accident—and from what providers. This reduces the chance the insurance company will find anything in your records that could minimize your claim. But be honest. Your provider may have records of your previous injuries and could even include information about them in your full medical records. They have a right to do this, and if you fail to disclose any information requested, the insurance company could use that to deny your claim outright.

Minimizing Your Claim

If you aren’t sure whether you should sign a release, you should speak with an attorney before doing so. A knowledgeable Illinois personal injury attorney can advise you on what records you should release and what records are irrelevant. It’s best to let an attorney read through the release to make sure your rights are protected, and you don’t release anything that could compromise your claim.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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