There is a saying in injury law that the at-fault driver has to take the accident victims as they find them. In other words, if an accident victim has an unusual vulnerability to injury, the at-fault driver still bears liability for any injuries they cause. Lawyers refer to this as the eggshell skull rule.
At the same time, the law cannot hold the driver liable for something they did not cause, and that holds true in Harrisburg, PA. If the crash victim came to the car accident with a pre-existing injury, it would be unfair to hold the at-fault driver liable for it.
Nonetheless, there are scenarios when you can be compensated for pre-existing conditions after a car accident in Harrisburg. Marzzacco Niven & Associates can help you explore your legal options. Contact us today for a free case review, call us at (717) 231-1640.
How Marzzacco Niven & Associates Can Help After a Car Accident in Harrisburg
Marzzacco Niven & Associates is one of the highest-rated injury firms in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Our Harrisburg car accident attorneys have over 120 years of combined experience representing accident victims against insurers and at-fault drivers.
When you hire our personal injury law firm, we can help with your case by:
- Investigating the accident to determine all of your damages and collect evidence
- Hire experts to strengthen your claim, with the possibility of testifying at trial if necessary
- Negotiate with the other party to your case, and file a lawsuit if they refuse to settle
A car accident can cause new injuries or aggravate pre-existing ones. To learn about the compensation you can seek for your car crash injuries, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates for a free consultation.
How Common Are Car Accident Injuries?
Pennsylvania had over 50,000 injury accidents and 1,1000 fatal crashes in 2021. If you were in a car accident in Pennsylvania in 2021, you had a 44% chance that your accident would involve injury or death.
Your odds of avoiding fatal or non-fatal injuries were slightly better in Dauphin County, home to Harrisburg. The county had 1,204 traffic accidents where someone was injured or killed in 2021. In Dauphin County, 41% of accidents involved injury or death.
Overview of How To Get Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident
Pennsylvania uses a unique car insurance system. You can elect limited tort or full tort coverage when buying car insurance. Limited tort coverage provides guaranteed economic benefits if you get injured in a car accident for things like lost wages and medical bills. In exchange, you give up the right to sue the at-fault driver for other types of damages, like pain and suffering, unless you suffer a serious injury.
Full tort coverage allows you to sue the at-fault driver for any injuries you suffer. But full tort coverage is more expensive than limited tort coverage.
Compensation for a Pre-Existing Condition Under Limited Tort Coverage
When you elect limited tort coverage, you must start with a claim with your insurance provider. Your insurer will compensate you for your injuries regardless of who caused your car crash.
When you file a claim with your no-fault insurer, an adjuster for the insurance company will investigate your claim. The adjuster does not need to review fault because the insurer must pay even if you caused the crash.
But the insurer will verify:
- You were involved in a car accident
- The car accident caused your injuries
- The treatment you received was reasonable and necessary
If you meet all these factors, you will get paid compensation for your injury.
When you have a pre-existing condition, you will not be able to prove causation. In other words, a car crash cannot cause a pre-existing condition because you had the condition before the accident. As a result, the insurer cannot pay you for your pre-existing condition.
Compensation for a Pre-Existing Condition Under Full Tort Coverage
If you elected full tort coverage, you can pursue full compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. To do this, you will file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer.
Again, an adjuster will get assigned to your case. But rather than ignoring who caused the accident, fault becomes a central issue.
Specifically, you must prove negligence by the other driver to get compensation. Negligence includes four elements:
- The other driver had a legal duty to drive with reasonable care
- They did something to violate that legal duty
- The violation caused your accident
- You suffered injuries as a result of your accident
As with limited tort, the problem with pre-existing conditions will come when you try to prove causation. Since the injuries predated the accident, the other driver did not cause them.
The Exception You Can Use To Get Compensation for a Pre-Existing Condition
Both limited and full tort coverage have one exception that can allow limited compensation for pre-existing injuries. If your crash worsens a pre-existing condition, you can get compensation for the worsened injury.
For example, suppose that you have arthritis in your elbow. After a car crash, you also have torn cartilage and a sprained ligament in your elbow. In this example, you can seek compensation for the torn cartilage and sprained ligament because the crash caused those injuries. But you cannot seek compensation for your arthritis.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Harrisburg Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents can significantly worsen pre-existing conditions. Contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates for a free consultation to discuss the compensation you can seek for your pre-existing condition.