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September 18, 2023

The Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions on Your Personal Injury Claim

Pre-existing conditions can add a layer of complexity to a personal injury claim. These are injuries, illnesses, or health issues that you had prior to the accident in question. Insurance companies often scrutinize these conditions, sometimes attempting to use them to their advantage. If you’ve been injured, it’s important you understand how pre-existing conditions can impact your personal injury claim.

The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Doctrine

In the legal world, there’s a concept known as the “eggshell plaintiff” or “take your victim as you find them” doctrine. This rule asserts that a defendant must compensate the plaintiff for the full extent of their injuries, even if the plaintiff was more susceptible to injury due to a pre-existing condition. So, while your pre-existing condition may complicate your case, it doesn’t absolve the at-fault party of liability.

Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions

If your pre-existing condition was worsened by your accident, you could be entitled to compensation for the aggravation or exacerbation of that condition. However, you’ll need to provide clear medical evidence that the accident made your condition worse. This often involves the use of expert witnesses.

The Insurance Company’s Tactics

Insurance companies often seek to minimize the amount they pay out in settlements. If they know about a claimant’s pre-existing condition, they may argue that the injury claimed was not caused by the accident but was instead a symptom of the pre-existing condition. They could also argue that the treatment you’re receiving (and the associated costs) is for your pre-existing condition and not the accident.

Disclosure is Essential

It might be tempting to hide your pre-existing condition for fear that it will weaken your case. However, dishonesty can significantly harm your claim. It’s crucial to disclose any pre-existing conditions to your attorney so they can strategize on how to address the issue.

The Role of Medical Records

Your medical records play a significant role in demonstrating how the accident affected your pre-existing condition. This may include records that show the state of your condition before the accident and those that document the change or worsening after the accident.

The Importance of Legal Representation

A skilled personal injury attorney can help counteract the insurance company’s tactics. They can gather and present evidence to demonstrate that your condition was exacerbated by the accident or that new injuries are separate from your pre-existing condition.

Pre-existing conditions can indeed make a personal injury case more complex, but they don’t eliminate the potential for compensation. Transparency with your attorney, comprehensive medical records, and knowledgeable legal representation are crucial in ensuring your rights are protected. Pleban & Associates can help you in an injury claim, even if you have a pre-existing condition.

Need to file a personal injury claim?  Contact Pleban + Associates for a consultation.

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