A preexisting injury or medical condition can definitely make collecting an insurance settlement from the at-fault driver difficult. The key to overcoming the insurance company’s resistance to compensating you is proving that you experienced a new injury in the crash that was caused by the person the company insures.
- A Virginia Personal Injury Attorney Discusses Knee Injuries From Car Accidents
- Know Your Rights Regarding Medical Privacy While Pursuing an Auto Insurance Claim
- Games Insurance Companies Play Against Accident Victims
To back up a little, Virginia law guarantees car accident victims the right to demand compensation and damages from the drivers who hit and injured them. Some of the claims the crash victim can file include
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Hospital, doctor and therapist bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of lifetime earnings capacity
- Pain and suffering
To succeed with those claims, you and your Virginia personal injury attorney must, at a minimum,
- File your claims within two years of the collision
- Present evidence that you did not cause the collision
- Possess medical evidence that you suffered an injury as a direct result of the collision
- Show you received medical treatment for that injury
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will contest each of these issues. Insurance representatives will, in particular, search for information on the accident victim’s medical history. When, for instance, the victim has undergone knee surgery, the insurance rep will argue that no new knee injury occurred in the crash.
Fighting back against that kind of argument can require hiring independent medical experts to review the victim’s medical records, taking sworn statements from the victim’s health care providers and, sometimes, going to court to secure a verdict from a civil trial jury.
Of course, an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer will also take steps to restrict the insurance company’s access to his client’s medical information in the first place. State and federal law grants strong privacy rights when it comes to medical conditions and treatments. Invoking those rights can prevent questions regarding old injuries from ever coming up.
So, the long and short answer to the question of whether a person who reinjures his or her knee in a car crash can have a valid personal injury case is yes. The insurance company will just try to make reaching a settlement or securing a jury award tougher than it should be.
An experienced personal injury attorney with dual licensure in Virginia and North Carolina, Eric Washburn received a B.B.A. in Finance from James Madison University—initially worked in the information technology field before obtaining his law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. Once an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Danville, Va., Eric has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a “Rising Star” Super Lawyer in Virginia since 2014.