How Does a Pre-Existing Condition Impact a Personal Injury Claim?

Many people today suffer from pre-existing conditions. Your pre-existing condition may be aggravated if you are in a car crash, truck accident, or another type of accident that causes further injury. If someone else’s negligence caused your accident, you can still file a claim against them for financial compensation even when you have a pre-existing condition. However, obtaining the full and fair damages you need can present additional challenges when filing a claim. Below, our Baton Rouge personal injury lawyer explains the challenges you may face and how to overcome them.

What is a Pre-Existing Condition?

In its simplest terms, a pre-existing condition refers to any medical condition a person may suffer from before being involved in an accident. Pre-existing conditions are common, particularly as a person ages. For example, when a person suffers from back pain due to a herniated disc and is involved in an accident, the herniated disc is a pre-existing condition.

Although a pre-existing condition can refer to any medical condition or illness, some are more common than others. These include:

Traumatic brain injuries
Back or neck injuries
Previous surgeries
Mental illnesses such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety
Degenerative disc orders

Millions of people in Baton Rouge and throughout the country suffer from pre-existing conditions. Still, that does not mean they are barred from receiving the full compensation they need after an accident caused by another person’s carelessness.

The Eggshell Doctrine

Individuals who have a pre-existing condition and are involved in an accident are known as eggshell plaintiffs under the “eggshell doctrine.” This legal doctrine takes its name from the fact that eggshells are, of course, fragile and delicate. So too, are individuals who suffer from pre-existing conditions. Under the eggshell doctrine, insurance companies cannot use a person’s pre-existing condition to deny them the compensation they need to recover from injuries.

Insurance companies prioritize profits and not people. As such, they will try many tactics to deny accident victims the full damages to which they are entitled. When a person has a pre-existing condition, it makes it easier for the insurer to deny fair compensation. They will likely argue that a plaintiff’s injuries existed before the accident, and they are not liable for paying damages.

Defendants in personal injury cases do not owe eggshell plaintiffs a higher duty of care, as it is impossible to know when a person may suffer from a pre-existing condition. However, defendants are responsible for still paying compensation to an eggshell plaintiff if the accident they caused exacerbated the pre-existing condition.

Proving a Pre-Existing Condition

It is critical that you receive prompt medical treatment after any accident, but it is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition. Medical evidence is some of the best evidence in any personal injury claim, as it can show the nature and extent of your injuries. Your medical records can also show that the accident worsened your pre-existing condition and that the injuries were not suffered before the accident.

Medical evidence can also include MRI results and X-rays before you were in the accident. This documentation can show the nature and extent of your pre-existing condition prior to the accident, so you can compare your current condition to it and show that it has gotten worse. Your case may also require the testimony of a medical professional who can explain the differences in your condition from before the accident and now.

Do Not Conceal Pre-Existing Conditions

You may not want to come forward with your pre-existing condition for fear it could hurt your personal injury claim. However, it is crucial to your claim that you do not try to hide it. It is important to tell your personal injury lawyer about any pre-existing condition you may have, as that will help them predict certain challenges that may arise. Only by knowing the full facts of your circumstances can a lawyer prepare a strong case to give you the best chance of a positive outcome.

Additionally, if you try to conceal your pre-existing injuries, the insurance company responsible for paying damages will still likely find out. They may obtain your medical records, and if they believe you were trying to conceal a pre-existing condition, it could hurt your case.

Our Personal Injury Lawyers in Baton Rouge Can Help With Your Case

If you have been in an accident and have a pre-existing condition, our Baton Rouge personal injury lawyers at Big River Trial Attorneys can help. Fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you prove your case.

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