Did you or a loved one get seriously injured? We have put together 3 personal injury facts that may help answer some questions. Call us now!
1. Pre-Existing Injuries
There’s a term that comes up almost daily in law practice, especially for those of us who practice in personal injury. Increasingly, over the last several years, it’s a term that the general public has gotten very familiar with— pre-existing condition. We’re used to hearing that term in the context of health insurance. Most everyone knows or has heard of someone whose health insurance claim has been denied because of a preexisting condition. Likewise, we know that people with preexisting conditions sometimes have difficulty getting access to health insurance. It comes up often in my practice that a client comes in, who has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or bad conduct, and they ask how their preexisting condition impacts their claim under Mississippi law.
To look at it from another angle, oftentimes, we have clients who come into us with a claim or an injury who have tried to resolve it on their own with the insurance company of the person who is responsible for causing that injury, and the insurance company wants to devalue their claim because of an alleged preexisting condition of that person. Folks often ask and want to know how that impacts their claim. Here’s the reality of preexisting conditions under Mississippi law, and really the laws of most states.
When a person does bad conduct or a person makes decisions and acts in a way that hurts someone else – what we call negligence – they take that person as they find them. It’s called the eggshell rule in some states; the thin skull rule is what it’s referred to in other states.
I have handled multiple cases like these over the last few years, and I’m working on some now. Take the example of an older person, a retired person, who is still very active in their life but maybe has arthritis, maybe they’re in their 60s or 70s, or they’ve had prior back surgery. They have a preexisting condition in the sense that their back is not as strong as it once was, or their knee or their hip isn’t as strong as it once was, or they’ve had prior injuries, but they’re still active and able to drive. Well, if a drunk, distracted or irresponsible driver comes along and runs a red light or stop sign and hits that elderly person’s car, causing new injuries to that back, hip, or knee where they’ve had problems, or that exacerbates or brings back the problems that they previously had with that back, hip or knee, the person who caused that wreck is responsible for those exacerbated, worsened, or new injuries. The preexisting condition is, in some instances, a side note. Ultimately, the person who caused that injury takes their victim as they find them.
Frankly, what we have learned is to not be afraid of preexisting conditions in our clients. We embrace them because our clients are who they are. Our clients are the victim, and the guilty party has to take our victim the way that they found them. If they made a preexisting condition worse, if they brought back an old injury that our client had previously recovered from, if they added new injuries on top of it, then they have to be held responsible for that under Mississippi law, and under the laws of most states. An experienced trial lawyer who works on personal injury cases on a regular basis will know how to work up the case to make sure that the client is fairly compensated for those injuries, regardless of whether a preexisting condition is present.
If you have a personal injury claim, Brad Morris Law Firm is here and available for consult regarding your preexisting condition or any other claim that you may have. We’ll try to answer your questions.
2. Minimum Amount of Medical Bills
Very recently, I had a client contact us about a potential personal injury claim. The question the client immediately asked us was if there was a minimum amount of medical bills that is needed to have a personal injury case. As I moved forward talking with that client, I came to find out that they had had an injury but had received emergency room treatment, not a whole lot of extensive follow up, but they had lost a couple of fingers in the process. The answer to that question is that it really depends on the case.
Every case is different. Some cases are driven by the value of the case or driven by the value of the medical bills— at least in the eyes of insurance companies and their adjusters. The real value of a case, and certainly the way we look at the case, is not just a dollar amount of medical bills, but it is the real cost to our client of those injuries. For instance, a person who receives a traumatic brain injury may not have extensive medical bills after the treatment, but that injury could impact them for the rest of their life. The same could be said for other types of injuries, similar to the example I gave of the person who lost their fingers. They don’t have fingers for the rest of their life, even though the medical bills themselves were not much more than emergency room treatment and a few follow-ups.
There is a lot that goes into valuing a personal injury claim. It’s not just the medical bills. It’s the impact on that person’s life; it’s the impact on their earning capacity; it’s the impact on their relationships with their family, with their spouse, with other people; it’s the impact on their activities of daily living and all that entails and all the reverberations that come from that in terms of their mental, emotional and physical health. Putting a value on that is part of the expertise that you get in hiring an experienced trial lawyer who regularly deals with personal injury cases, and it’s why you should not go it alone on cases like this.
To answer the question, no, there is not a minimum on the amount of medical bills that a person has to have to have a personal injury claim. The real question is, was your injury caused as a result of the bad act or negligence of another person or a corporation? If so, it is for your attorney to help you walk through what the appropriate compensation for that is or an appropriate remedy. As always, if you have a personal injury case that you need a consult on, Brad Morris Law Firm is available for a free consult, and we will do our best to answer your questions and get you the help that you need.
3. Personal Injury Claim Timeline
I was at my office just last week and had a new potential client contact me. Among the series of questions that client asked was the question of how long it takes a personal injury case in Mississippi from beginning to end. That’s an excellent question. It’s a question that a lot of clients – in fact, almost every client that comes in the door – ask us. It’s certainly a fair question, too, because if you have a claim for personal injury, most of the time not only are you hurting and having to get medical treatment, but also it frequently results in loss of being able to do daily activities or not being able to work. It has a real impact on people’s lives. Because of this, how long it will take to complete a case is an important question for most clients.
The answer to that question is, really, it depends. There’s not a hard and fast rule of thumb and certainly not a law or rule that says how long your case is going to take. It’s going to depend on the severity of the injures. It’s going to depend on how long the person receives medical treatment. For instance, a personal injury claim where a person is injured, gets immediate treatment and heals pretty quick— say in a few days or a few weeks— in that claim the injuries are complete, so we can proceed with getting a fair payment on it relatively quickly. Compare that to a case where there are serious injuries and a person is hospitalized for an extended period of time, where there’s rehab afterwards, where there’s potential physical therapy and long-term consequences, and so on. Cases like that often have to wait or take longer because both the medical doctors and the attorneys and the insurance companies involved need to get a sense of what that person’s prognosis is going to be, once they’ve had a chance to get their medical treatment and once they’re on a path to recovery.
Oftentimes, a person may be getting medical treatment for a year or more before you really know how they’re going to recover. What we mean by that is a person could be getting medical treatment and go into rehab, and you may not know, for instance, if they’re going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of their life or if they’re going to be able to walk through physical therapy and through recovery. The medical treatment itself and the recovery period has a big impact on the timing and how fast a case moves. Once a person reaches maximum medical recovery, if you have an experienced personal injury attorney involved in your case, then an experienced trial lawyer can take that claim, work it up – once there’s maximum medical improvement – and package that claim for a demand to the insurance company. An experienced trial attorney will know right off the bat if the insurance company is going to make an offer on that claim that is fair value or close to fair value and treats the injured person right. If not, then you’ve got to proceed into litigation. Typically, in Mississippi, once you go into litigation and depending on the complexity of the case, you’re looking at anywhere from nine months at the shortest up to about 24 months from when the case is filed until you get to conclusion.
I hope this answers some of the questions on that. Obviously, every case is different. The Brad Morris Law Firm is always here for a free consult on your potential personal injury case or just to help answer your questions, such as this, about your case or your loved one’s case.
Were you or a loved one injured due to someone else’s negligence and have questions about these 3 personal injury facts?
Contact the experienced Mississippi personal injury attorneys at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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