Pre-Existing Spinal Cord Injury

by Jan

I had a neck injury in 2002 that had a 50% compromise of the spine and surgical intervention was done to prevent paralysis. In Jan 2005 I was involved in a motor accident where the disc above the repair ruptured and caused a brachial nuritis and compression of the spinal cord and had to undergo surgery to fix this.

Now the insurance company is trying to place all of it on pre-existing. The herniated disc was there but was stable. The accident made it unstable. I was offered $65,000 but that won't even cover all the medical bills yet alone my lost time from work and furture problems, and believe me they are starting already. They purchased the vehicle I was driving 2 days after the accident.

Do I have a chance in at least getting all my medical covered?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Pre-Existing Spinal Cord Injury":

Of course the insurance company is going to say it was a pre-existing condition. Their job is to pay as little as possible. That's why this is a negotiation and a settlement offer. If you are not happy with the offer, you can always proceed to trial.

The problem with going to trial is that you are gambling with the $65,000 already on the table. The insurance company is offering you less than the injury is worth with the hopes that you will not gamble. I assume you are represented by an attorney. He/she should be able to advise you if this is a reasonable offer and whether you should accept it. The final decision to accept or reject the offer is yours, but remember that he is the legal expert.

Proving whether or not the injury is pre-existing will depend on your medical records and/or your doctor's testimony at trial. This includes what the 2002 MRI shows as well as what the 2005 MRI shows. It also includes your medical condition immediately before the 2005.

Were you still treating or seeing doctors from the 2002 accident? If you were asymptomatic (no treatment for a significant time period before the 2005 accident) your attorney should be able to successfully argue that this was not pre-existing.

You didn't mention the stage of litigation - have you had depositions yet? Is the case ready for trial? In my experience, the closer you are to trial, the higher the settlement offer. But that doesn't mean push for trial if you aren't prepared.

The insurance company may decide to withdraw the offer depending on their level of preparation for trial, their time invested, and their confidence in the strength of their legal position. You also don't mention the total amount of your medical bills and therefore, I cannot say whether you have a chance of recouping it all.

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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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION