If you’ve recently been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you might be considering filing a personal injury claim. However, if you also have a pre-existing condition, you may be concerned about how it could affect your claim’s success and the compensation you might receive.
The subject of pre-existing conditions often complicates personal injury claims, leaving many victims perplexed and apprehensive.
This article aims to demystify the topic and offer clear, comprehensive insights into the role that pre-existing conditions play in personal injury claims.
What is a Pre-existing Condition?
A pre-existing condition is essentially any health issue, medical ailment, or injury that existed prior to the incident that led to your current personal injury claim.
These conditions could vary from previous injuries like a fractured arm to chronic issues such as diabetes, arthritis, or asthma.
Understanding the nature and extent of your pre-existing conditions is the first step in understanding how they could affect your current claim.
Why Pre-existing Conditions Matter
You might be wondering why an unrelated health condition should have any bearing on your current claim.
The reason lies in the scrutiny of insurance companies. They closely examine every detail of your case, aiming to limit the amount they’ll need to pay.
These companies may try to argue that your new injury is merely an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition, thereby attempting to reduce their financial responsibility.
Therefore, as a guest navigating through this landscape, understanding this dynamic is critical for your claim’s success.
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Theory: Why it’s Crucial
There is a significant legal principle known as the “Eggshell Plaintiff” theory.
This theory posits that a negligent party is responsible for the consequences of their actions, even if their victim is already in a vulnerable or fragile state.
This means that if your pre-existing condition made you more susceptible to severe injury, the defendant can’t use this as a reason to dodge or reduce your compensation. Essentially, they have to take their victims as they find them, pre-existing conditions and all.
The Importance of Honest and Comprehensive Documentation
Being upfront and honest about your pre-existing conditions is imperative.
When consulting with healthcare providers and your attorney, make sure you disclose your entire medical history.
Medical professionals will often document the relationship between the new injury and your pre-existing condition, if any, providing vital evidence for your case.
Compiling medical records related to both your pre-existing condition and your new injuries provides a full picture that can help distinguish the consequences of the recent incident from your existing health issues.
This robust documentation is invaluable when negotiating with insurance companies.
How Insurance Companies Approach Pre-existing Conditions
Insurance companies are businesses looking to keep their expenditures low. This often means trying to minimize the amount paid out in claims.
Knowing this, it’s not uncommon for them to claim that your new injuries are actually due to your pre-existing condition. This is where your medical documentation comes into play.
Records and doctor’s opinions that clearly separate your old conditions from your new injuries counter these claims, making your case for compensation stronger.
The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney
The role of an attorney starts with the initial consultation, where they evaluate the facts of your case and give you an understanding of your legal options. They’ll assess how your pre-existing condition might affect the claim and guide you through potential challenges you may face. This initial step is crucial for setting the tone and strategy for your entire case.
Personal injury attorneys are experts at navigating the complexities that pre-existing conditions bring into claims.
They can guide you through the documentation process, represent you during negotiations with insurance companies, and even take your case to court if necessary.
A seasoned personal injury attorney knows the importance of establishing a clear link between the defendant’s negligence and your new injury, separate from your pre-existing condition.
By understanding the role of a personal injury attorney in the context of a pre-existing condition, you’ll appreciate the depth of their involvement and the breadth of their expertise.
They act as your advocate, negotiator, and guide, helping you navigate the path of personal injury law to secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.
When Medical Experts Become Necessary
In some cases, especially those involving complex medical conditions, it may be necessary to bring in a medical expert.
Such an expert can sift through the medical jargon and complicated conditions to provide a clear, understandable opinion about how the new injury has affected your pre-existing condition.
An expert’s testimony can be invaluable in convincing a jury or negotiating a settlement. It reduces the room for speculation and dispute.
Settlement Vs. Trial: Weighing the Options
Having a pre-existing condition doesn’t rule out the possibility of taking your case to trial, although it might make negotiations for a settlement more intricate.
Each option—settling or going to trial—has its own pros and cons.
Settlements are generally quicker and less stressful but may yield lower compensation. Trials can result in higher compensation but are riskier and more time-consuming.
Your attorney can help you weigh these options based on the unique circumstances of your case.
Pre-existing conditions certainly add an extra layer of complexity to personal injury claims. However, they don’t automatically negate your right to compensation for a new injury.
Your best allies in this journey are transparency, accurate and comprehensive medical documentation, and competent legal representation.
As a guest going through the personal injury claim process, your primary goal is to recover—both physically and financially. Knowing how your pre-existing condition affects your claim allows you to make informed decisions and protect your rights.
Armed with this knowledge and supported by professional advice, you can successfully navigate the complexities of personal injury claims. This is even if you have a pre-existing condition.
At Wood, Atter, and Wolf, we strive to solve the most important problems when a client suffers personal injury.
The proven methods we employ create a working environment that allows all parties to resolve their differences.
Call us at (904) 355-8888 or schedule a consultation here. Together, we can make it through this stressful time in your life.