Aggravation of Pre-Existing Injury After an Accident

Accidents in Arizona can cause significant injuries. When others negligently cause accidents and injuries, the victims are entitled to pursue compensation for their losses by filing personal injury lawsuits. However, some people who have pre-existing conditions suffer an exacerbation of injury because of their accidents.

In other words, the victims’ underlying pre-existing injuries might be aggravated by their accidents. Insurance companies frequently point to a pre-existing injury in an effort to reduce the amounts that they might have to pay to accident victims or to avoid paying claims completely.

If you have suffered an aggravation of pre-existing injury in an accident, you should talk to an experienced attorney at Hutzler Law to learn about your rights.

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If a pre-existing injury has been aggravated as the result of an accident, give us a call. We’re available to discuss your case and review the possible maximum compensation you deserve.

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Pre-existing Back Injury Aggravated by Car Accident

Examples of Pre-existing Injuries

Many different types of injuries can predate an accident, including the following:

  • Bones were broken in the past
  • Disc herniations
  • Back pain
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck pain
  • Sprains and strains

Some injuries that predate an accident will not worsen because of it. However, others will be aggravated and cause worsened symptoms. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it can also cause your accident-related injuries to be worse.

Some examples of medical conditions that can impact the severity of your injuries from an accident include the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes
  • Degenerative disc disease

Woman speaking to Personal Injury Lawyer

Determination of Liability in an Injury Claim

When you file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company, you and the insurance company will both have to determine liability or fault. Most injury claims are based on theories of negligence, meaning you will be required to show that the defendant was negligent by proving each legal element.

The elements of negligence include the following:

  • The defendant owed a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances.
  • The defendant acted in such a way that the duty was breached.
  • The defendant’s breach of duty caused your accident and injuries.
  • You suffered actual harm as a result.

To prove the elements of negligence, you will have to present evidence. Some examples of evidence that might be available include your medical records, witness statements, photographs, and others.

Immediately after an accident, you should go to a doctor for a thorough evaluation to document your injuries and show a causal relationship between them and your accident. You will need to tell your doctor about your accident and any symptoms you are experiencing. If you have a pre-existing condition or injury, tell your doctor that your current symptoms did not start until after your accident.

Your claim amount should not be reduced simply because a degenerative condition was discovered after an accident. In many cases, previously undiagnosed conditions will be identified in imaging tests completed after injury accidents.

If you had an old injury, you should ask the doctor who treated you to provide you with documentation of when it occurred, when you were treated, and when your treatment was completed. By showing that the previous treatment you received was successful, you can show support for your new claim involving an exacerbation of injury.


pre-existing back injury settlement

How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect Accident Claims?

If you are wondering how a pre-existing injury can affect an accident claim, an injury that predates an accident can cause several problems. In most injury claims, proving that an accident caused a specific type of injury is challenging. When the original injury predated the accident, proving that the accident caused the injury to worsen can be even more difficult.

For example, if you have a herniated disc that causes you to experience lower back pain, and you are subsequently injured in a car accident, it can be difficult to prove that your worsened back pain was caused by your accident instead of the pre-existing condition.

You can try to show the aggravation of pre-existing injury by presenting evidence that your disc herniation was less severe before your accident but was worsened because of it. For example, you might present evidence that you could control your back pain before your accident with ibuprofen or other over-the-counter medications but now require steroid injections and potential spinal surgery because of the impact of the accident.

Because of the subjectivity involved, an insurance adjuster will likely argue that you are malingering or are understating the effect of your old injury.

When Should You Disclose Your Pre-Existing Injury?

Accidents can happen without warning, and you have little control over how serious an accident might be. In many accidents, new injuries can impact injuries that predate them.

It is best for you to disclose any previous injuries you have at the beginning of the claims process. However, you should be careful in how you make this disclosure. It is best to discuss your case with a certified personal injury attorney at Hutzler Law first to avoid any complications.

Avoid Recorded Statements

After most injury accidents, insurance adjusters will reach out to the victims and ask them to provide recorded statements about what happened. However, you should avoid giving a recorded statement without an attorney.

Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions in a specific way to elicit statements that the insurance companies can use against injury victims. If you say something wrong or allow the insurance adjuster to get you to agree with a statement he or she makes, your injury claim can be severely harmed. These types of statements are considered to be admissions against interests and can harm your ability to recover compensation in your case.

You are under no legal obligation to talk to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Instead, you should politely refuse and tell the company you want to talk to a personal injury lawyer at Hutzler Law. Your attorney can then deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

Avoid Signing a Medical Authorization Form

Another common tactic used by insurance companies is to ask victims to sign medical authorization forms to allow them to access the victims’ medical records. You might be told that the insurance company needs authorization to verify the severity of your injuries. The adjuster might tell you that your claim will be paid more quickly if you agree.

However, you should avoid signing a medical authorization form for the at-fault party’s insurance company. The company will use this form to pore through your entire medical history to try to find an earlier incident to blame your accident-related injuries on.

You should not sign anything sent to you by the insurance company without talking to an experienced attorney at Hutzler Law. Your attorney can handle the disclosure of your medical information without providing the company with wide-ranging access to your entire history.

What Needs to Be Disclosed during an Injury Claim

Medical records about your pre-existing condition or injury will need to be provided to the insurance company. If you do not disclose a pre-existing condition, your claim could be harmed. Failing to disclose this type of information can hurt your credibility and your ability to recover damages. Your attorney at Hutzler Law will know how to present evidence of your pre-existing condition and your current injuries in a way that supports your injury claim.


Reasons it is Important to Retain a Lawyer for Your Claim

If you suffered severe injuries because of your accident and had the symptoms of your pre-existing condition exacerbated, you will likely need the help of an experienced attorney to secure an appropriate amount of compensation.

Attorneys know the different approaches insurance companies take to avoid liability and can help you to navigate your claim. With a lawyer’s help, you might show that the accident caused your worsened condition and recover full compensation for your losses.


Arizona Workers’ Compensation and Pre-Existing Injuries

Employers in Arizona are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees when they are injured in workplace accidents. Workers are not required to prove that their employers were negligent to secure benefits. However, they also are not allowed to file lawsuits against their employers unless an exception applies.

In the context of an exacerbated pre-existing condition in a workers’ compensation claim, you will not be able to recover benefits for the pre-existing injury itself. However, you should be entitled to receive workers’ comp benefits for the aggravation of your injury. You will need to take care to separate your new injuries from the original condition to recover benefits.

Employers and insurance companies typically deny or dispute workers’ comp claims when they know about pre-existing conditions. You will have the burden of proof to show that your workplace accident caused your injury to be aggravated. To increase the likelihood that you will fully recover the benefits you deserve, you should do the following things:

  • Disclose your condition.
  • Specify how your condition has been aggravated and how it affects your daily life.
  • Be prepared to appeal if necessary.
  • Hire an attorney.

When you have a pre-existing condition and suffer further injuries in a workplace accident, you will likely have to fight to recover workers’ compensation benefits. By retaining an experienced attorney at Hutzler Law, you stand a better chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.


What is an “Eggshell Plaintiff”?

Arizona recognizes the common law principle of the eggshell plaintiff. Under this doctrine, a plaintiff that is medically fragile has the right to be fully compensated for injuries sustained in a negligence accident even when their injuries are more severe than they might have been without a pre-existing condition.

In other words, defendants are required to take plaintiffs as they find them. Even if an accident would not have seriously injured a person without a pre-existing condition, the at-fault party will still be liable for the aggravation of your injuries.

For example, if you have a pre-existing cardiovascular condition and suffer a heart attack because of a car accident, your attorney should be able to present evidence showing that your heart attack was caused by the accident. The defendant would then be liable to pay damages for the medical costs related to treating your heart attack after your accident.

You should be entitled to be fully compensated for your losses even if you have a pre-existing condition.

 


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Speak Today to an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Your personal injury claim can be more challenging when you have a pre-existing condition. However, you should never take an insurance adjuster’s word that you must settle for less because of your underlying condition.

When someone else has caused an aggravation of your injuries because of negligence, you should talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Hutzler Law as soon as possible. We can review your claim and explain to you whether it has legal merits.

Call our law firm today to request a free consultation at (602) 730-4530.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms After an Accident

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are one of the most prevalent, and most costly, health care problems in the United States today. Injuries sustained to the brain can often go undiagnosed and untreated because many people believe that problems only arise when the injury is catastrophic.

However, that is not true; even a mild bump on the head can cause injury and long-term damage under the right conditions, and the only way to know for certain if the injury to the brain has occurred is to undergo assessment.

Many motorcycle accident or car accident victims do not realize until it is too late, that they have sustained a life-altering injury that may take years of treatment because brain injury symptoms do not always show up right away. They may not present for days, or even weeks after an incident and therefore may not be associated with the original traumatic event.

The long-term impact of a traumatic brain injury can be devastating, both emotionally and cognitively. Changes in personality and the inability to complete normal, everyday tasks may change a person’s entire world. Full recovery may not be possible, but ongoing treatment and support are vital if the accident victim is to have any kind of quality of life after an accident.

Speak to an Injury Lawyer

If you have experienced a traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident, give us a call. We’re available to discuss your case and review the possible maximum compensation you deserve.

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Describing Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Types of Traumatic Brain Injury

Even very similar brain injuries can present with very different symptoms. There are a lot of factors that affect how a brain trauma will affect each individual, including prior head injuries, mental illnesses, or conditions like depression or a medical problem, like epilepsy and a host of others.

Additionally, brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe, and in Arizona, are classified by the type of damage caused to the skull.

The three major categories of brain injuries are:

Closed head injuries – when there is an injury to the brain caused by the soft tissue striking the boney interior of the skull, with no skull fracture present

Depressed skull fractures – depressed fractures are caused when the skull is caved in or crushed, and the bone protrudes into the delicate brain tissue

Compound skull fractures – compound fractures result in the loss of skin and the splintering of the bones in the skull, which may or may not cause damage to the brain

Accident victims who sustain a moderate to severe brain injury or concussion from an accident will almost certainly be significantly affected by the injury. They may lose the ability to complete many of the normal activities of daily living, like bathing or dressing themselves, taking care of the home, or working.

Even a mild head trauma can result in impairments in memory, thinking, or emotion regulation that can make it difficult if not impossible to keep up with their normal life.


Sports Related Brain Injury

What are Some Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms?

Although every head injury is different, there are some symptoms that may be common to all levels of TBI, including mild, moderate, and severe trauma.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Symptoms of Whiplash / Sore Neck
  • Dizziness and/or vertigo
  • Difficulty remembering and/or paying attention
  • Mood Swings
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Tremors and/or muscle weakness
  • Difficulty regulating body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
  • Low energy and lack of motivation
  • Seizures

Medical Doctors Examining Brain Injury

What Can You Do After a Head Injury?

Traumatic brain injury is not always preventable. Car accidents are the number one cause of head trauma and can result in a life-long disability. Other common causes of significant head traumas are falls, gunshot wounds, and contact sports like boxing, football, hockey, baseball or soccer.

There are some precautions that can be taken in order to lessen the impact of a potential head injury:

  • Always wear a seatbelt while traveling in a motor vehicle, and use a child safety seat properly
  • Wear a helmet when participating in contact sports, riding a bicycle, snowboarding, skiing, or riding in open vehicles like three-wheelers
  • Use handrails on stairways and take your time going up and downstairs, keep walkways free of obstacles that may trip
  • Do not stand on chairs, countertops, or other objects to reach heights, and use ladders correctly

Getting Professional Help if You Suffer from a Brain Injury

Expertise.com Best Phoenix Car Accident Lawyer 2021No matter what severity of brain injury a person sustains, the effects can be profound and life-altering.

If you or someone you love has sustained a brain injury, an important first step is to seek medical treatment immediately, as these types of injuries can be serious and even fatal. After you have seen a doctor, then it’s time you contact an experienced Phoenix personal injury lawyer at Hutzler law to help discuss your rights and put together a winning game plan to ensure you receive the best possible compensation for your injuries.

Give our personal injury legal team a call today at (602) 730-4530.

4 Common Motorcycle Injury Questions in Arizona

Accidents involving motorcycles are some of the most serious crashes on Arizona roads. The standard design of a motorcycle offers very minimal protection from impact with other vehicles. Potential issues that may contribute to, or cause, a motorcycle accident include driver error, improper traffic control devices, poorly designed roadways, vehicle design, and tire wear and defects.

More often than not, there are compounding causes of an accident, not simply one single cause. Although there are numerous tips to prevent injury from motorcycle accidents, this makes determining the cause of a motorcycle injury an extremely complicated process.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 5,000 motorcyclists killed in 2018. While that number is decreasing almost 5% from previous years, it still poses as a staggering number. The NHTSA published a document that shows even more shocking motorcycle crash statistics. There is a silver lining however if you or a loved one has been involved in an accident.

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Have you in an accident and suffered a motorcycle injury? Give us a call, we’re available day or night.

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The following are common questions that we have been asked while representing motorcycle injury cases:

Broken leg from accident

1. The day after my accident I can hardly move. Is it too late to file a claim for my injuries?

In short, the answer to your question is “no”, it is not too late to file a claim if you have not done so already. If, on the night of the accident, you provided a statement to the responding officer and said that you were all right; do not be concerned. This is common and is not a significant obstacle to face when recovering from your injuries. When your body sustains trauma, it is not unusual for you to feel “fine” immediately following the accident. It could take several hours for your body to recognize the symptoms of an injury.

It is for this very reason that most emergency rooms will issue instructions upon releasing patients. The instructions will advise the patient or caregiver to keep an eye out for various symptoms that could indicate that their condition is worsening. Should they encounter these symptoms, they should immediately return to the hospital to be examined. It is a commonly accepted notion that symptoms present as minor, and then increase in severity as time progresses. Examples of injuries that present with minimal symptoms and then worsen over time include the swelling of the brain and the swelling of the discs in your back.


Neck and Back Pain from Motorcycle Accident

2. What if several weeks have passed, and I am just now beginning to experience pain in my back and neck?

This is an extremely common phenomenon, especially if you also experienced another trauma at the time of the accident such as an injury to an arm or a leg. When in an accident, your brain has to quickly process a large amount of information. It may only register initial, immediate, or visible pain, such as scrapes, bruises, and broken bones.

You may not be completely aware that a more serious back or neck injury has occurred. Also, because your entire body is most likely very sore, it may take weeks for the back and neck injury symptoms to be distinguishable from the other pains. At this point, the weakened body part may have given out completely due to the strain of constantly being used while injured.


Motorcycle Accident Head Injury from Not Wearing Helmet

3. What if I was not wearing my helmet when the accident occurred?

There is currently no regulation in the state of Arizona that requires you to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle, so you have not violated any laws. Even so, if this is the case you will want to find a competent and experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to handle your claim. The insurance company may pose the argument that by not wearing a helmet you have contributed to your own injuries. You would then be considered partially at fault for your accident. This implication may possibly reduce the amount of money you can receive for your claim.

The insurance company is likely unable to make this argument for most bodily injuries because they would still have occurred even if you were wearing your helmet. A motorcycle accident lawyer who has encountered this situation before will be able to argue your claim more adequately and successfully than one who has not. They will be able to recover all of the funds you deserve.


Passenger in a Motorcycle Accident

4. What if I was only a passenger, and a friend or family member was driving the motorcycle?

In a perfect world, every driver would be insured, and you would collect compensation for your injuries directly from the insurance company. If they do not have auto insurance you can take them to court personally in order to collect for expenses incurred such as medical bills, damages, and pain and suffering. It is rarely a pleasant experience when suing a friend or a family member, but someone will need to pay for your injuries.

Even if your friend or family member was found to be at fault for the accident, you should still be adequately compensated as a passenger in an accident. One possible setback is if they had purchased an insurance policy that has a “family member exclusion” written directly into the policy. This may limit the amount that you are able to recover for your claim.


Contact a Motorcycle Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident as either the driver or passenger, even if you were at fault or not, give the legal team at Hutzler Law a call immediately. We will spend 30-60 minutes during a free consultation to go over your case from top to bottom and come up with the best-case scenario in getting you the maximum compensation for your injuries. Call Hutzler Law today at 602-730-4530 and we can immediately assist you.