Will Pre-existing Conditions Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury claims are made when another person’s negligent behavior injures someone. As you can imagine, pre-existing conditions or injuries can complicate an already complex matter. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a solid personal injury case with the help of a skilled attorney. In some cases, your pre-existing condition could even make your case stronger.

What is a Pre-existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition or injury is simply one you had before your accident. Consider how the following scenarios differ:

  1. Someone with no pre-existing conditions is in a workplace accident that causes a back injury with significant downtime, pain, and suffering.
  2. Someone with a pre-existing back condition is in a car accident that worsens their back condition and pain.

The second scenario is more complicated–especially regarding the “pain and suffering” aspect of the injury. It can be difficult to collect damages because the insurance company will likely argue the individual’s pain is due to their pre-existing back injury.

Types of Pre-existing Conditions and Injuries

You can have just about any pre-existing condition or injury. But there are some common pre-existing injuries and illnesses that we frequently see in personal injury suits. Some common pre-existing injuries include:

  • Chronic neck or back issues
  • Previously broken bones
  • Strains and sprains
  • A history of concussions
  • Traumatic brain injury

In addition to making specific injuries worse, an accident can complicate and worsen a pre-existing medical condition. An accident could affect conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and more.

Causation, Liability, and Pre-existing Injuries

A personal injury attorney will work diligently to prove your accident caused a specific injury. Even if you have pre-existing conditions or injuries, that doesn’t mean you can’t collect compelling evidence to support your case. Often, detailed medical records prove critical in showing how your condition or injury has changed since the incident.

Cases involving pre-existing conditions are especially tricky. You can count on insurance adjusters and defendants arguing that your injuries are exaggerated, fabricated, or that they already existed. But a skilled attorney can gather proof that your pre-existing condition or injury has changed after your accident.

Pre-existing Injuries and Damages

Damages refer to the compensation you receive after a successful personal injury lawsuit. The damages you could collect if you have a pre-existing condition are the same as any other personal injury case.

You could get compensation for the following:

Calculating pain and suffering can be one of the most challenging aspects of a case involving pre-existing conditions. Putting a dollar amount on pain and suffering is already tough, but much more so when dealing with a condition “made worse” by a recent accident. Nevertheless, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement.

closeup of Asian mature Japanese male patient suffering pain while his personal care attendant is helping him do rehabilitation exercise by lifting his injured arm gently so as not to aggravate pre-existing conditions with his shoulder.

How Pre-existing Conditions Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Your personal injury claim cannot include any damages for conditions or injuries you had before your accident. What your personal injury attorney must do is prove that the defendant’s negligent actions caused new injuries or made your pre-existing condition worse.

While determining liability and calculating damages can be more difficult when pre-existing conditions are involved, they aren’t always bad for your case. For example, someone with a pre-existing condition might get regular updates from their doctor, including x-rays and other medical records documenting their condition. This can make it easier to show how their condition changed immediately after their accident.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

If you have a medical issue that existed before your accident, you may feel hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim. However, the law recognizes that pre-existing conditions can make a person more susceptible to injuries. This is where the “eggshell skull rule” – also known as the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine” – comes into play.

The eggshell rule essentially means that a defendant takes their victim as they find them. This means that if you have a medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to injury than the average person, your pre-existing condition cannot be used against you in court. In other words, the person or entity responsible for your accident cannot argue that your pre-existing condition meant you were already predisposed to injury and therefore, they’re not responsible for the full extent of your injuries.

One key benefit of the eggshell plaintiff doctrine is that it can result in higher compensation for your injuries. Since your pre-existing condition cannot be used as an argument to mitigate your damages, the full extent of your current injuries will be taken into account when calculating your compensation.

However, it’s also important to understand that proving your pre-existing condition had no impact on your current injuries can be challenging. Insurance companies and defendants may try to claim a connection between the two, potentially pointing to previous medical treatment or records. It’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you build a strong case.

How Medical Experts Help Establish Causation in Injury Cases with Pre-existing Conditions

In many cases, it’s tough to determine whether the accident caused the damage or simply aggravated pre-existing conditions. This confusion may lead to compensation battles with insurance companies, making it important for people to know how medical experts can help establish causation in such cases. Medical expert witnesses can help establish causation in accident injury cases with pre-existing conditions by:

  1. Evaluating Existing Conditions:  Medical experts help determine whether pre-existing conditions could have contributed to the injuries sustained in an accident. They examine medical records, diagnostic reports, and laboratory tests to analyze the health condition before the accident. This information helps them evaluate whether the injuries would have been less severe, or there wouldn’t have been any at all, if the person didn’t have pre-existing conditions.
  2. Investigating Accident Details:  Medical experts examine accident details and go through medical records to determine whether there was any specific point of impact that could have caused the injuries. They also check for any physical evidence that proves the accident was the cause of the injuries and not the pre-existing condition.
  3. Conducting Medical Examinations:  Medical professionals conduct thorough medical examinations to ascertain the extent of injuries and diagnose any underlying conditions caused by the accident. They may also refer patients to specialists, depending on the severity of the injuries. By examining the body’s state after the accident, they can determine whether pre-existing conditions played a role or not, weakening the defense of an insurance company convincing that the person’s injury was not caused by the accident but by their own pre-existing condition.
  4. Providing Expert Testimony:  Medical experts provide expert testimony in court proceedings. Their opinions carry significant weight in determining the outcome of the case. An experienced and credible expert testimony can help prove causation in accidents with pre-existing conditions, ensuring that the victim receives appropriate compensation.
  5. Explaining Medical Terminology:  Medical professionals offer expert explanations and guidance to clients regarding medical terminologies and lexicons used throughout the case. In this way, clients can better understand their situation, know a better course of action, and approach the case with more confidence.

A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If another person’s negligence caused your injuries or worsened your condition, Thompson Law can help. As your advocate, your personal injury lawyer will ensure you get fair compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.

To help determine fault, your personal injury attorney will gather information, review evidence, and use their legal expertise to help determine what kind of compensation might be fair in your personal injury case. Don’t depend on insurance adjusters to advocate for you; call the trusted team at Thompson Law so you can focus on getting the treatment and care you and your family need.

No Win No Fee sign - Injury attorney representing accident victims with pre-existing conditions

Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

How soon do I need to get a lawyer after a crash?

Calling 911 and getting prompt medical care for your injuries is the first order of business after a car crash. Once you are safe and secure, you should contact an auto accident lawyer right away. Time is of the essence in terms of collecting evidence, speaking to witnesses, and speaking to the insurance claims adjuster assigned to your case.

Do I really need a lawyer for a personal injury lawsuit?

Yes. Especially if you have pre-existing conditions, a personal injury lawyer is essential. An attorney specializing in these matters will help you gather compelling evidence and clear documentation to prove you deserve compensation after your accident.

What are some common causes of car accidents in Texas?

Common causes of car accidents in Texas include drunk driving, texting or talking while driving, speeding, tailgating, and aggressive driving or road rage. While drivers are often tempted to multitask, even a few seconds of distraction can cause a severe or even fatal crash.

How can a personal injury attorney help?

A personal injury attorney can handle the complex process of a personal injury lawsuit while you focus on relief and recovery. Your lawyer will investigate your accident, talk to the insurance company, negotiate a fair settlement, and estimate your damages. Sometimes, your lawyer will take your case to court and represent you there.

Who determines fault in a Texas accident?

Deciding fault might look different in each case. Liability depends on the unique details of your accident and whether you choose to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Law enforcement and insurance adjusters make specific judgment calls regarding fault, but if you sue for personal injury, the courts will ultimately decide.

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State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.