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Can a Pre-Existing Condition Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

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February 8, 2022
Legally Reviewed By Rand Spear, Esq.

CAN A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION AFFECT A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?

For an accident victim to receive damage payments, a personal injury lawyer must prove an accident caused the injuries. Proving the connection is challenging, even if the accident victim has perfect health. If pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries are involved, the personal injury attorney’s challenge increases substantially. A personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition becomes much more complicated when discussing compensation.  

Injuries not directly caused by an accident are not entitled to compensation. Damage payments are awarded when previous injuries or pre-existing medical conditions are re-aggravated or intensified from an accident. Damage payments would not only cover re-aggravated physical ailments but mental health conditions as well. Injury compensation depends on the changes in the victim’s condition before versus after the accident. Speak with a personal injury lawyer to learn how a pre-existing condition affects your personal injury claim.

WILL A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION HURT YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?

After a personal injury accident, the party at fault has the responsibility for compensating the accident victim for all damages caused by the incident. Some damages that the negligent party must account for include property damage and compensation for medical treatment related to the victim’s accident injuries. Much of the debate between the negligent party’s representatives and the accident victim’s personal injury attorney centers around whether an injury was actually caused by the personal injury accident in question.   

Even though an accident did not cause a pre-existing medical condition, the injured party should pursue compensation for the re-aggravation of a previous injury or intensification of a pre-existing condition. Damage payments usually depend on the ability to show a pre-existing condition’s severity prior to the accident and the accident’s effects on that condition. When an injury victim has received regular medical treatment for prior injury, a lawyer will have an easier time proving a personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition. Detailed medical records regarding any pre-existing medical conditions may be important evidence. 

WHAT IS THE EGGSHELL PLAINTIFF DOCTRINE?

The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine applies to all personal injury claims, where the injury victim’s pre-existing condition makes them more susceptible to an accident injury. According to FindLaw, the rule states if a person has a condition that makes them more susceptible to injury, then the negligent party may face a higher amount of damage payment, despite not knowing the pre-existing condition of the accident victim. Basically the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine protects a victim’s frailty. This stops the negligent party from using frailty as a defense. As with any regular accident injury damage payouts, damages on pre-existing conditions will only be considered when the aggravation or exacerbation is related to the accident. Due to this rule injury victims with poor health, should always contact a personal injury lawyer after suffering an accident.

WHY YOU SHOULD DISCLOSE PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE

When meeting with medical professionals or legal teams after a personal injury accident, it is important for the accident victim to always disclose pre-existing medical conditions! Full disclosure increases the chance a victim receives both proper treatment and a fair settlement.

Before examination, a doctor or medical professional always requests medical history, because this information affects treatment strategy. Without this knowledge, proper treatment may not be provided at the accident scene and in the days following the accident.

When meeting with your personal injury lawyer, remember that a prior injury or a pre-existing condition affects your personal injury claim. If an accident reaggravates past injuries, a lawyer will include those damages in a personal injury claim.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF AN INJURY HAS AGGRAVATED A PRE-EXISTING CONDITION?

  • Be honest. As mentioned above, being honest about any previous injuries or chronic conditions is essential. By hiding or downplaying previous conditions, an injury victim may undermine their medical treatment and legal options following an accident. Full disclosure allows medical and legal professionals the ability to work with full knowledge.  
  • Involving medical professionals early.  Contacting a family doctor quickly after a personal injury accident helps on both the medical and legal side. A family doctor familiar with the injury victim’s pre-existing medical conditions and prior injury history may more effectively identify differences to their patient following an accident. Every medical visit also offers medical documentation for tracking treatment results both before and after a personal injury accident.  
  • Consult a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can work with a victim’s doctors to collect objective documentation of the injury status and treatment. Collecting all medical documentation is beneficial. Medical files provide talking points for the lawyer to discuss diagnoses and results with medical witnesses during a court trial. An injury lawyer also has the resources to hire a neutral expert witness. This expert may present the differences in a pre-existing condition or prior injury before and after an accident. An expert’s job is proving the accident victim would not be currently suffering if the accident did not occur. 

HOW PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS AFFECT PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS IN PENNSYLVANIA AND NEW JERSEY

In Pennsylvania, the law permits an injury victim to recover damages by proving a pre-existing condition or prior injury was worsened by a personal injury accident. According to HG.org, there are jury instructions on this topic that clarify what an aggravation means and how to apply when awarding compensation. If the jury finds the pre-existing condition did exist in the injured victim, and the negligent party aggravated it, the defendant is responsible.

In New Jersey, the state law permits an injury victim to recover damages if negligence aggravated a pre-existing medical condition. The goal is establishing that the victim’s pre-existing injury became worse due to the accident.

WE CAN HELP  WITH YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM

Attorney Rand Spear and his law firm, Spear Greenfield, have over 200 years of experience in helping victims impacted from a personal injury accident! We offer legal guidance on how to file a personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition. Spear Greenfield has collected $750 million dollars for our clients, so lean on our resume of success. We will work tirelessly to win you maximum compensation!

In Spear Greenfield’s over 30 years of business, our personal injury attorneys have seen serious injuries from personal injury accidents. Many of these injuries have involved pre-existing conditions. Our legal team’s goal is to determine the way to best represent previous injuries and conditions to win fair compensation. Call attorney Rand Spear of the law firm Spear Greenfield today for a free consultation for your personal injury accident.

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