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Recovering Compensation for Pre-existing Injuries in Michigan

man with neck injuryAfter a Michigan car accident caused by another’s negligence, can you recover compensation for aggravation of a pre-existing injury? The short answer is yes, but there is more to that answer you should know about.

Jay Trucks & Associates discusses the best time to disclose a pre-existing injury, if or when you should talk to your insurer about it, and how your claim can benefit from experienced legal assistance. Our knowledgeable Clare personal injury lawyers welcome the opportunity to discuss this type of injury further in a free legal consultation. If you have a valid case, you can retain our services without the need to pay any money up front. We collect our fees after we recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf.

What to Expect Under the No-Fault Law

In Michigan, the injuries you sustain in a car crash are initially covered by your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits through a no-fault claim. The claim can only include injuries that are directly caused by that accident. Any attempt to include treatment for a pre-existing injury sustained in an earlier incident will probably be denied.

However, if your pre-existing injury was made worse by that accident, you can pursue benefits for additional care you need to treat the exacerbation of that pre-existing injury.

For example, if you had a pre-existing back injury and you were receiving periodic injections to manage your pain, you will not get benefits to cover those ongoing injections. However, if a new accident caused your injury to worsen, and your physician prescribed a round of physical therapy, your benefits may cover those costs.

Proving Your Pre-Existing Injury Was Aggravated

Seeking medical attention after your accident is important, because your doctor will need to see how, or if, your pre-existing injury was made worse by your car accident.

It is important to be completely straightforward and clear with your treating physician about how this new accident has aggravated your pre-existing injury by:

Discussing How Your Pre-Existing Injury Was Before the New Accident

Help your treating physician understand what level of recovery your pre-existing injury had reached prior to the crash. Be specific and include details about:

  • Activities you returned to after achieving recovery
  • Whether you were still receiving any continued care for that injury
  • Whether you were still experiencing pain prior to the crash

Explain How Your Pre-Existing Injury Was Made Worse By the Accident

This explanation should be detailed, but not exaggerated. We recommend including information, such as:

  • Does your pre-existing injury have new pain that was not there before the accident?
  • Are there any range of motion issues that are new?
  • Are there activities you could do prior to the crash that this new pain will not allow you to do?

Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations for Treatment

If you do not follow the new plan of care prescribed by your physician, you leave room for the insurance company to argue that your pre-existing injury was not affected by the accident, and your claim for no-fault benefits will likely be denied. This could include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Prescription medication
  • Follow-up appointments

Should You Disclose a Pre-Existing Injury?

You should definitely disclose a pre-existing injury up front. However, it is best to work with an attorney regarding the “how” and “when.” You do not want to give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement or sign a medical records release for the insurance company before speaking with your attorney.

How an Experienced Attorney Can Benefit Your Claim

Trying to prove that a car accident was responsible for aggravating or reinjuring a pre-existing condition can be challenging even in a "best case" scenario. This is why we recommend that you seek legal help from a qualified attorney who will protect your legal rights and best interests throughout the legal process. Attempting to pursue a claim on your own could make you vulnerable to tactics from insurance providers who know that you do not understand the law as well as they do, and who also know you may need compensation sooner than later.

At Jay Trucks & Associates, we handle personal injury cases every day, and we have extensive knowledge of how Michigan’s no-fault insurance law applies in a pre-existing injury case. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your potential claim and determine your legal options.

Call: (800) 762-8623 to arrange your free claim review.