How will a previous car wreck affect my current rear end accident claim?

by Sheena
(Eugene, Oregon)

I was rear ended while waiting at a stop light, totaling my pickup. The driver at fault was driving with a suspended license, but had insurance through a parent. It's been a year and a half of chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, and massage therapy, and I'm still experiencing a lot of pain.

I just had an MRI that showed some mild spinal issues, but the doctor couldn't say if it was from the wreck. Said it could be from aging, but I'm only 29 and otherwise healthy. I will be going for a cervical MRI next.

I would like to seek legal help, as the other person's insurance seems to be dragging their feet, and of course isn't at all helpful. My only worry is that 13 years ago I was involved in a wreck where I had whiplash, but really didn't have any follow up treatment. I did mention the wreck when I was having minor back pain a few years ago.

Will this hurt my case? Is there any way I minimize the effect it has? Thanks for any perspective you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How will a previous car wreck affect my current rear end accident claim?":

Sheena (Eugene, Oregon):

You would be wise to seek legal advice and counsel. Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations. Gather your medical records and make several appointments with several personal injury attorneys in your area.

Before agreeing to compensate you for your injuries and required treatment, the insurance company has a right to review those medical records which reflect the injury on which you are basing your claim. In your case, records from a previous spinal and/or neck whiplash injury, or age degeneration, are relevant.

It will be important for your treating physician to make clear in his or her medical narrative that the injuries you sustained as a result of the rear end collision are separate and apart from previous injuries or age related degeneration.

While it would be helpful for your treating physician to separate your injury from other injuries, if the physician can't do that, the insurance company will still pay your claim. However, the amount they agree to pay may be diminished by the percentage of the previous injuries or age related degeneration the insurance company believes affects your claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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