Will My Car Accident Claim be Affected by a Pre-Existing Condition?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on September 28, 2017  in Car Accident News. Updated on March 2, 2022

examining patient's injuryAfter a car accident, insurers of the at-fault party will work to try to pay as little as possible for your claim, including attempting to prove your injuries were not caused by the accident or minimizing their severity. One way they may attempt to do this is to use a pre-existing condition against you.

However, New Jersey law allows injury victims to recover compensation for the aggravation of pre-existing injuries, which are injuries that existed before the car accident and were worsened by the crash.

If you have a pre-existing injury that was made worse by a car accident or are worried a pre-existing condition could affect your accident claim, contact the New Jersey car accident attorneys of Lynch Law Firm, PC to discuss your case.

Common Pre-Existing Injuries

The trauma of a car accident could cause a flare up or aggravation of an old injury or existing medical condition. Common conditions that can be worsened by an auto accident include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Hernias
  • Strain of the lower back
  • Bones broken in the past
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Injuries to the knees and shoulders
  • Old brain injuries, including concussions

Your Right to Pursue Compensation

New Jersey law allows for compensation of aggravated pre-existing conditions in cases where negligence caused an accident. Your injury claim cannot be denied solely because you have a pre-existing injury or medical condition.

The Eggshell Doctrine

The Eggshell Doctrine is a legal concept that governs cases involving aggravated pre-existing conditions. The doctrine essentially states that victims should be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in an accident if:

  • The pre-existing condition was stable
  • The victim had no reason to think his or her condition would change, if it were not for the accident

The Eggshell Doctrine is commonly used in cases where a victim has a condition that makes him or her more susceptible to injury than others may be. While an accident may cause very minor harm to a healthy individual, someone with a pre-existing condition may sustain a much more serious injury.

In cases involving an aggravated injury or health condition, an insurer may attempt to offer a lower settlement because the injury existed before the accident. Under the Eggshell Doctrine, the insurer cannot blame your pre-existing injury or health condition for the harm you sustained in the car accident.

However, you must be able to prove that the injuries in your claim were directly caused by the accident.

Evidence to Support Your Claim

Proving that your injuries were caused by or aggravated by the accident will require detailed medical records and information about your pre-existing condition.

In Davidson v. Slater, 189 N.J. 166, 170 (2007), the New Jersey Supreme Court stated that injury victims claiming aggravation of a pre-existing condition must be able to provide comparative evidence to support that claim.

To do this, you will need:

Past Medical Records

In order to show the condition of your pre-existing injury before the accident and how it was worsened by the crash, you will need to provide your past medical records to the insurance company.

However, the insurer is not entitled to all of your past medical records. Our attorneys will make sure insurers only have access to records relevant to your current injury.

Recent Medical Records

Your physician’s notes following the accident will be valuable in supporting your claim, as he or she will note whether the harm you sustained from the accident is due to the accident or was caused by your underlying condition.

It is important that your recent medical records show a causal relationship between the accident and your injury. Make sure that your physician includes detailed notes about how the accident caused your injury or worsened condition.

Inform Your Attorney

Make sure to tell your lawyer all the details of your old injury or pre-existing health condition. It is important that he or she know all the details so he or she can best defend your current claim against arguments made by the insurer and aggressively pursue the compensation you deserve.

Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Now

The New Jersey personal injury lawyers of Lynch Law Firm, PC will work to ensure your pre-existing condition does not diminish the true value of your claim. Our attorneys know what evidence is needed to support your claim and will work to recover the maximized compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn the legal options available to you. We work on contingency only, so you only owe payment if we are successful in recovering compensation for you.

Call (800) 518-0508 and speak to a lawyer today.

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

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