What If a Motorcycle Accident Aggravates a Pre-existing Condition?
The freedom of riding over the open road can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Riders come from all demographics and their bikes are often just as diverse as they are. In fact, you are just as likely to see an older rider than a younger one. Many of them have exceptional driving records and decades of experience operating their motorcycles.
Sadly, no one can escape age, and many motorcyclists have to contend with back and knee injuries, arthritis, hip problems, and other age-related medical conditions. When an older motorcyclist is involved in an accident, these conditions can worsen and make it harder for them to fully recover. But insurance companies are often very resistant to provide proper compensation for pre-existing conditions, much less to motorcyclists.
How Insurance Companies View Motorcycle Accidents
When you are in a motorcycle accident with a negligent driver, you can only hope that their insurance company will swiftly handle your claim and pay you the money you need to heal stress-free. But the truth is, that is often never the case. Insurance companies rarely pay injured parties what they are owed, even when the other driver was clearly at fault.
For motorcyclists, the matter is even worse, as insurance companies are biased against them. Motorcyclists often suffer catastrophic injuries, from brain damage to broken spines to even amputations. Treatments for motorcycle injuries are expensive, and insurance companies have a vested interest in devaluing or denying claims. They may even try to place the blame on a motorcyclist, arguing that you were going too fast, performing illegal maneuvers, or otherwise reckless.
They will also try to use a pre-existing condition against you. You are legally required in the state of California to disclose any pre-existing condition during your claim, and insurance companies will often use this information to deny you coverage, claiming that your injuries were sustained before an accident.
However, that does not mean your claim is over yet.
The Eggshell Rule and Motorcyclists
Just because you are an older rider does not mean that you do not deserve fair treatment from insurance companies, even if you do have a pre-existing condition like arthritis, a history of migraines, previous fractures, back problems, or a mental health condition. And, in fact, personal injury laws in the state of California do support your case.
When the issue of a pre-existing condition comes up in an accident claim, your attorney can utilize the Eggshell Rule. The Eggshell Rule is a legal doctrine that argues that if you are injured by a negligent individual, that individual is liable for all injuries you sustain in an accident, including how previous injuries are worsened. This means if an accident aggravated an injury, then the at-fault party owes you compensation for it.
However, the Eggshell Rule is not ironclad. Your attorney will need to directly link your worsening medical condition to the accident. The at-fault insurance company will try to argue that your condition only got worse because you got older and it was a natural progression, but your attorney can fight back against these arguments by citing your medical records and expert testimonies. Your doctor may be able to demonstrate that if you had not been in the accident, your condition would not have worsened. Thus, because your injuries only got worse after the accident, there is a basis for a strong motorcycle accident claim.
Disclosing an Injury and Speaking to an Attorney
First of all, always disclose all medical conditions to your doctor. They will need to know about any prior surgeries, physical therapy, chronic conditions, and age-related injuries that could affect how you recover. You do not want to get into months of physical therapy for a back injury that exasperates a knee injury. Ever medical condition needs to be fully laid out before your doctor so they can develop a thorough treatment plan.
Second, when you sit down with an attorney, bring along your medical records and any information about pre-existing injuries. California law does allow you to file a claim for aggravated injuries in addition to any trauma you sustained in an accident. Your attorney can utilize your medical records to demonstrate how an at-fault driver exasperated your medical condition and caused undue harm against you.
At the end of the day, the purpose of your motorcycle accident claim is to help you become as whole as possible. That means recovering any financial and personal damages you have suffered due to the accident and a negligent individual. This should always include all of the injuries you sustained, however minor an insurance company views them.
But to recover the compensation you need to heal comfortably, you will need the aid of a law firm with motorcycle accident experience. With over 40 years of experience under our belts, the legal team at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie may be the right fit for you. We have extensive case results where we advocated for injured motorcyclists in Orange County and we have a thorough understanding of how injured motorcyclists can recover proper compensation from at-fault insurance companies. To ensure not a single cent is left out of your claim, contact us at (949) 752-7474 and schedule a free consultation with an Orange County motorcycle accident attorney.
Even if you aren't sure you have a case, give us a call at (888) 752-7474, or fill out our Free Case Review below.
We are here to help.