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

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on December 20, 2019  in Car Accident News. Updated on June 13, 2023

woman-holding-neck-in-painPre-existing conditions can have a significant impact on personal injury claims, both for better or worse. Your pre-existing condition might increase the value of your claim, or it may cause the value to drop.

Lynch Law Firm, PC’s Hasbrouck Heights personal injury lawyers share how pre-existing conditions may impact personal injury claims. If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team today.

How It Might Help or Hurt Your Claim

There is no clear answer as to whether pre-existing conditions help or hurt new injury claims, as their impacts are different from case to case. In some instances, a pre-existing condition can cause the value of your personal injury claim to increase.

A new injury often causes prior injuries to worsen in severity, and you may be eligible for compensation for the aggravation of your existing injury.

Some common pre-existing conditions that often become worse due to new injuries may include:

  • Degenerative back conditions, including arthritis and degenerative disc disease
  • Back injuries
  • Neck issues
  • Brain injuries
  • Osteoarthritis and other joint issues
  • Hernias
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Fibromyalgia (muscle disorder)

However, a pre-existing condition may also complicate your claim and lower its value. Insurance adjusters heavily scrutinize pre-existing conditions and often use them to claim the new injuries are illegitimate.

They may claim you were not injured, or that you overmedicated yourself and your pre-existing condition contributed to the accident. They may also allege your new injuries are only related to the existing injury and were not caused by the accident.

The Eggshell Doctrine

This doctrine states a victim must be considered as found and his or her existing health issues cannot be used against him or her to lower the value of a claim. Even though you may have been more likely to suffer an injury compared to an average person, that cannot be used against you.

The eggshell doctrine recognizes that the average person may suffer very little due to an accident, however, those with pre-existing conditions can have much more severe injuries.

Protecting Your Claim

If you have a pre-existing condition, it is important to seek help from a qualified lawyer. Your lawyer can determine how it may affect your claim and what to do to protect the value of your damages.

It is important to tell your lawyer right away. If you try to keep it a secret, it may damage your credibility with the insurance company. If your lawyer does not know about it, it may be more difficult for him or her to obtain full compensation for your damages.

Even though the insurance company will eventually find out about your existing medical condition, it is generally best to let your lawyer handle the disclosure of this information. You should avoid signing a medical release allowing the insurance company to have access to your medical records from before the accident. They will most likely look for information to use against you.

Contact the Lynch Law Firm, PC for Assistance

If you have been injured in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We understand how pre-existing conditions can impact claims and are dedicated to fighting for maximum compensation.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our skilled attorneys today. There are no upfront fees and payment is only due if we recover fair compensation on your behalf.

Call (800) 518-0508 today.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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