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Can a pre-existing condition affect your injury claim?

by | Dec 27, 2023 | Personal Injury


“Does my pre-existing condition affect my personal injury claim?” This is one of the most common doubts prevailing in our society. Most of us have pre-existing health issues. This is a very normal thing. No grown-up in our society can claim himself a 100 percent healthy man.

The vigorousness of the issue may vary, but the probability to have an issue is always high. If this is the case, then how can these issues affect our personal injury claim or to what extent do they affect our personal injury claim.

Don’t get confused all the doubts will be clarified to you through this blog. Make sure to follow me till the end.

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What is a pre-existing condition?

A pre-existing condition is a health condition, an injury, or an illness a person is suffering from before encountering the accident. Let me list out some of the most common ones that you, me, and most of us may already have.

  • Slipped disc or Herniated disc
  • Short-sighted or far-sighted
  • Inflammation of a joint
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart murmurs
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Sick-headache or migraine
  • Depression

I hope, you now understood what a pre-existing condition is and not very much scared about it anymore. When we claim for a personal injury how do we prove our pre-existing conditions? This is where the role of medical records becomes significant. Yes, they are the only source of data evidence that you have a pre-existing condition.

This is the reason, we are advised to have a health check-up once in a while, although we may not feel anything wrong with our body. The results of the medical check-ups act as a record of your condition.

What are the pre-existing conditions that really do matter in a personal injury claim?

The major two conditions that matter in a personal injury claim is,

  • Previous injuries and
  • Chronic conditions

The case of previous injuries may look a little bit confusing but is easily understandable. Let me explain it to you with an example. Let us imagine that I have fractured my hand previously and am undergoing medical treatment. If I happen to meet with another accident during this time, and my fractured hand is injured again and also the fault is not mine. How will the personal injury claim turnout? The issue here is, I am fractured before the accident and how can I claim for money. But the answer is, Yes, I can claim if my fractured hand has been injured further in this accident.

In the case of chronic conditions, let us consider that I am suffering from hip pain due to a slipped disc. Now, I happen to meet with an accident and I am undergoing a very bad whiplash. Now, it gets tricky because you can’t identify if the pain is due to the accident or is it the same old chronic hip pain. In this kind of situation, we definitely need the consultation of a doctor as only they can give you the answer if it’s the chronic pain or whiplash.

How do pre-existing conditions affect your personal injury claim?

In every case, the insurance company of the at-fault person checks if there was any pre-existing condition. This is done to understand the health condition of the plaintiff and to reduce the claim amount by stating the pre-existing conditions.

If the pre-existing condition was truly the problem other than the accident then it may reduce your claim amount. But in an exact opposite scenario where the accident has only made your condition worse then you get to claim more money. This can be explained by the eggshell skull rule.

Eggshell skull rule

The eggshell skull rule states that the plaintiff can’t be seized away from his true claim amount just by notifying the pre-existing condition especially when the pre-existing condition is aggravated by the accident. If a person with a pre-existing condition is involved in an accident and the injury aggravates the pre-existing condition then the plaintiff is still worthy to have compensation.

This theory says that if a man with a skull as soft as an eggshell is somehow involved in an accident and is injured then the at-fault person is liable to the injury caused although he has no knowledge about the tenderness of the plaintiff’s skull.

This eggshell skull rule insists that the at-fault person involved in an accident is always liable to the injuries caused to the plaintiff irrespective of his pre-existing condition.

Why is it important to disclose your pre-existing condition?

If you are involved in an accident it is very important, to be honest. In case you have any pre-existing injuries, it must be disclosed to the at-fault person and his lawyer. This is done in order to have a fair trial and to provide a reasonable personal injury claim amount.

In case you do not disclose the details of the pre-existing condition and try to claim more money from the at-fault person and he finds it out. Then the jury may even make a judgment in favor of the at-fault person considering the break of trust and violation of rules. So it is always better to disclose your pre-existing conditions so that you can receive your personal injury claim.

Evidence that makes your personal injury claim stronger

There are a few pieces of evidence that can state your pre-existing condition and how it has been aggravated after the accident. They are,

  • Medical records from before and after the incident
  • Photographs of any visible wounds
  • Deposition and testimony from your treating physician
  • Deposition and testimony from various medical experts and
  • Deposition and testimony from an accident reconstruction expert

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Final thoughts

If you are ever involved in an accident and the fault isn’t yours then whatever is the case you have to go for a personal injury claim. You may or may not have a pre-existing condition but that does not matter. You are supposed to claim it. For each case, the scenarios may be different and so the claim amount may differ with it.

With the eggshell skull rule in practice, the probability to recover the claim amount is very high. So never be confused about your pre-existing conditions. The moment you are involved in an accident go for the claim with no doubt. With respect to the case, you can claim the amount for your injuries as well as lost wages, pain, and suffering.

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