Preexisting conditions do not prevent you from recovering compensation for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. The law in in Massachusetts is clear, you are entitled to full compensation for any aggravation of a preexisting condition, which means compensation for however the condition is made worse. This is just as true for Massachusetts Police Officers who are injured on duty as anyone else.
MASSACHUSETTS POLICE OFFICER WITH HISTORY OF BACK PAIN HIT ON DUTY
Officer Waters was driving in her cruiser when at the last second, she saw another vehicle take a left turn right into the center of the driver’s side of her cruiser. The force of the impact crumpled the driver’s door and pushed the cruiser into a concrete wall. She was taken to the hospital and underwent a lengthy course of treatment that kept her out of work for almost three months.
Prior to this crash, Officer Waters had a lengthy history of back pain, which is all too common for Massachusetts Police Officers wearing heavy-duty utility belts. Earlier in the year, she was doing well and even ran a half marathon, but following months of training and running, her back pain became problematic. Leading up to this crash, she was in active treatment and receiving injections into her back.
CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES FALSELY ARGUE PREEXISTING CONDITIONS REDUCE VALUE
Car insurance companies usually argue that a preexisting condition is the cause of the ongoing problems and undervalue cases. What they fail to realize is the preexisting condition is often exactly why the problem becomes so severe. Getting hit by a car is the last thing someone with back pain needs.
After Officer Waters was struck, she reported having much worse back pain, but it was a matter of degree and not kind. The insurer seeing records reporting ongoing back pain drew the most favorable conclusion for itself, which was that after her return to work, she must have been back to her baseline. The truth was different. Her pain continued, and she returned to treatment some months later as she found she could not tolerate the duty belt or her normal daily activities playing with her young children as she had before this impact.
UNDERINSURED MOTORIST CLAIMS PURSUED TO ARBITRATION
We successfully recovered the maximum available under the insurance for the car that struck Officer Waters, but it was insufficient to compensate her. We then turned to Officer Waters own insurer to make an underinsured motorist coverage claim. Officer Waters car insurer low balled her based on the preexisting condition only offering $5,000.00 and then $10,000.00 to resolve her claim. In Massachusetts when you dispute the value of an underinsured motorist claim, you demand arbitration to resolve the case. Arbitration is a much faster process than litigation through the courts.
At the arbitration of Officer Waters’ case, she convincingly testified of the difference this impact made to her back and her life. While she used to run for miles before feeling any tightness in her back, now she felt pain within the first few minutes. It was with her on a daily basis, hindering her enjoyment of the regular activities. In addition, her doctor concurred with her assessment and explained that the crash exacerbated her injuries and caused strains that unfortunately still had not healed. The arbitrator agreed this injury was a lot more than simply an ongoing preexisting condition and found her damages totaled $95,000.00 which resulted in another $59,000.00 which was about six times what the insurer offered to Officer Waters in addition to what was already recovered from the insurer for the car who hit her.
Massachusetts Police Officers can protect themselves and their detail income in the event of an injury on duty involving a motor vehicle incident by making changes to their personal automobile insurance policies. Watch our free webinar here to learn how. If you are a police officer and have been injured on duty in any type of incident, contact us now for a free consultation to review your matter.
Ballin & Associates protecting injured Massachusetts police officers
In order to protect the privacy of the injured officer and witnesses, all names have been changed. Any resemblance to names of real persons, past or present, is merely coincidental and not intended. The injured officer agreed to have this article published in order that public safety officers around the Commonwealth be better educated about their legal rights to compensation when injured.