Pre-Existing Conditions and How They Affect Injury Claims

pre-existing conditions and injury claimsAccident victims often face strong opposition from the other party’s legal team and insurance company about any pre-existing conditions they may have. While having a pre-existing condition can make filing a personal injury claim more difficult, you may still be entitled to damages if your new injury caused your existing injury to worsen.

Our Sacramento personal injury attorneys can determine your legal options during a free consultation. We can help protect your rights during the claims process and are committed to pursuing the maximum compensation you deserve.

Examples of Pre-Existing Conditions

Some examples of pre-existing conditions that could be aggravated by a new personal injury include:

  • Back pain Many people suffer from back problems, including degenerative disc disease, arthritis or ongoing back pain. An accident may make these conditions even worse and cause debilitating pain.
  • Brain injuries A pre-existing brain injury or trauma to the head increases the likelihood that any future brain injury will be even more serious. Repeated head impacts can cause symptoms like memory loss and personality changes.
  • Extremity or abdominal injuries – A collision can cause further damage to previous conditions, such as knee, hip or shoulder injuries, hernias, and broken bones.

Disclosing Pre-Existing Injuries

Accident victims tend to be understandably hesitant to reveal pre-existing injuries to the insurance company or their personal injury attorney. However, failing to disclose existing injuries can cause substantial harm to your claim and potentially jeopardize your ability to recover any compensation from the accident.

It is unusual for an accident victim to have no previous medical issues. When an accident victim claims to have no previous medical issues, it may make the insurance company suspicious.

A pre-existing injury does not necessarily prevent an accident victim from recovering compensation if the accident exacerbated his or her initial injury. Be sure to disclose all pre-existing injuries to your attorney so he or she can use this information to adapt a legal strategy based on the facts of the case.

The 'Eggshell Plaintiff' Rule

The "eggshell plaintiff" rule is a legal concept that applies to pre-existing conditions in personal injury cases. Under this theory, anyone who causes a victim’s injuries is not free from liability just because the victim has a pre-existing condition that makes him or her more susceptible to injury.

If the other party is responsible for the accident, he or she is responsible for the damages that result. The other party may be held liable for all damages, even if a person without a pre-existing condition would have suffered a less severe injury under similar circumstances.

In California, this rule is explained to juries when they are making decisions about awarding damages for wrongful conduct.

Medical Records and Authorization Forms

If you have a significant pre-existing injury, the insurance company will be focused on proving your new injury is related to that and not the accident. This is why insurers ask victims to sign an authorization to gain access to your medical records.

It is wise to discuss this type of request with an attorney before signing anything. The authorization may allow the insurance company unrestricted access to your records, allowing the insurance company to collect evidence that minimizes the value of your claim or supports denying it altogether.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can review your situation and determine what records to provide to the insurance company to avoid hurting your claim.

Contact an Attorney for Assistance

If you have a pre-existing condition, contact the Arnold Law Firm for legal help. We know how to build a strong case around the worsening of a pre-existing condition.

Schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorneys to discuss your claim, your pre-existing injuries and a legal strategy for recovering fair compensation. We do not charge for representing you unless we help you obtain compensation.

Fill out our Free Case Evaluation form or call (916) 777-7777 to find out how we can help you.