How do I address a previous injury in a settlement demand letter to the insurance company?

by Marie
(Everett, WA)

In June of 2014, a driver ran a stop sign and smashed into me causing close to $4,000 worth of damage to my car. Several years ago, I underwent arthroscopic hip surgery from falling off my horse.

Despite ongoing pain to that area, my hip had remained somewhat stable and I was able to go about normal activities. With that said, the car accident seriously aggravated a that old hip injury. I have been under doctor's care for almost 10 months up to and including physical therapy.

Finally, my hip is slowly returning back to being stable even though I now take hip injections to keep the pain in check. I'm not sure how to address this in a personal settlement demand letter to the insurance company? The insurance company as well as their insured have accepted full 100% liability for this accident especially since it was their insured who blew a stop sign and broadsided my car on the driver's side.

Answer by Guy Parrinello

I am sorry to hear about your injury. Although I am not licensed to practice in Washington State, I can give some guidance using general principles of tort law. First of all, a tort plaintiff is entitled to receive fair and just compensation for all damages proximately caused by the defendant’s negligence. The plaintiff must prove the other party was negligent, and that their negligence caused damages.

Damages typically include related medical expenses, actual out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It seems your concern is how to address your pre-existing hip problem.

Generally, assuming the above elements are met, a plaintiff is entitled to recover for injuries that were directly caused by the defendant’s negligence, as well as that portion of a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated or activated by the negligence.

My suggestion to you is that you make a list of how your hip injury affected you immediately prior to the accident and immediately after. The same for medical treatment you were undergoing immediately before and that which was required because of the accident.

Do this for your daily activities, physical capabilities, pain and suffering, etc. Once you have this list, you will be better armed to deal with the insurance company. As indicated in some of my prior posts, however, it would not hurt to contact a local injury attorney to deal with the insurance company on your behalf. Good luck.


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