The effect of a prior injury claim
We are often asked about the effect that a prior injury claim has on a new injury claim. In fact, sometimes when I first interview injured victims they seem reluctant to divulge information about their claim/injury history. Perhaps, they are afraid it will have a negative effect on their case or that I won’t take their case at all.
First of all, hiding a prior claim is really no longer an option. Insurance companies report the claims they receive. Most, if not all, insurance companies have access to the record of these prior claims, as do the insurance defense attorneys. Thus, if you were injured in an accident years ago, there is a record of that claim.
The website these companies use is iso.com. Take a look. Essentially, it allows insurance companies better ability to track individuals who attempt to make repeat fraudulent claims. That is important, as those individuals negatively affect the victims who have legitimate claims.
But what effect does this have on the regular person who has simply been injured in more than one accident? The truth is usually very little, if any at all. Typically if an insurance company has concerns about a prior accident they will request the prior treatment records. I find that most of the time this request occurs when the injuries are a year or two apart. Assuming the records show that the injured victim recovered, then the prior injury claim should not have an effect on the new injury claim.
If the individual suffered a permanent injury in a prior accident and injured the same area in the new accident, it can be more complicated. In the cases of serious prior injuries, we find it most important that the treating doctor is aware of the prior injury and can intelligently explain the relationship it has on the new injury/exacerbation, if any. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how important it is to tell both your lawyer and your doctor about ALL prior injuries.
The bottom line is that if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to speak with a professional and be honest about any prior claims.