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How Pre-Existing Conditions Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury law permits individuals who have been injured due to the negligence of another to seek damages for their losses. If successful in their claim, individuals may be compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the mental and emotional distress they have endured as a result of their injuries.

While personal injury laws exist to provide a recourse for individuals who have been injured in this way, complications may arise when those claiming this legal remedy have pre-existing injuries or health conditions.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the impact that pre-existing injuries or health conditions can have on personal injury claims, enabling individuals to navigate the legal landscape with greater clarity and confidence.

The Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions 

In order to avoid or minimize liability in personal injury cases, the defense will commonly assert that the claimant’s injuries were not the fault of the defendant but instead resulted from a pre-existing condition. If the defense successfully argues that the health condition or injury in question pre-dated the accident, it is unlikely the defendant will be held liable for damages associated with that specific condition or injury.

While a pre-existing condition can add complexity to a personal injury claim it does not necessarily prevent an individual from pursuing this course of action. However, in such cases, a claimant will have to prove the following regarding the injuries they are claiming for:

  • They were not caused by, or were unrelated to, their previous condition 
  • They caused their pre-existing condition to worsen.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

In cases where a pre-existing condition is exacerbated as a result of an accident, a legal principle known as the ‘eggshell skull rule’ may apply, entitling the claimant to compensation.

This doctrine states that a defendant will still be held liable for damages resulting from their negligent actions even if the claimant had a pre-existing condition that made them more susceptible to an injury. This means the defendant must take the claimant as-is and compensate them for the full extent of their injuries.

For example, a driver with brittle bones may sustain severe injuries in a low-speed collision with another distracted driver compared to the average person. The eggshell skull rule states that the distracted driver must take the claimant as they find them and will, therefore, be held liable for the claimant’s injuries regardless of their pre-existing condition. By applying this principle, the law ensures individuals are treated fairly regardless of their predisposition, entitling them to compensation for their injuries.

Full Disclosure

To avoid a defense against their claim, individuals pursuing personal injury claims should fully disclose any pre-existing health conditions or injuries to their attorney. Their attorney can then gather the relevant medical evidence needed to establish either how the defendant’s negligence worsened the claimant’s condition or how the injuries they sustained were unrelated to their previous condition.

By working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, claimants with pre-existing conditions can receive the assistance they need to build a strong case, increasing their chances of successfully claiming compensation for their losses.

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