Facing an injury from an accident is challenging, and it becomes even more complex if you already have a medical condition. The question arises whether you can file a lawsuit and how the defense might use your existing medical condition against you. If you’re contemplating a personal injury claim after an accident, understanding the potential impact of pre-existing conditions on your case is crucial. Insurance companies and defendants often attempt to leverage pre-existing conditions to minimize or deny compensation. This guide aims to clarify the intersection of pre-existing conditions and personal injury law, delineate your rights, and shed light on how such conditions might influence a personal injury claim.
- What are Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury claims seek compensation for damages resulting from an accident caused by another party’s negligence. These damages can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Individuals unfamiliar with legal processes may worry about the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney.
Personal Injury Law: It’s a civil law branch focused on compensating individuals for harm caused by others’ negligence. Negligence, as per California law, is the failure to take reasonable precautions for others’ safety. In essence, those engaging in careless behavior harming others are accountable.
Basics of a Personal Injury Claim: This type of lawsuit aims to recover losses caused by another person’s negligence. To file a personal injury claim, you need to provide evidence of the other party’s negligence and its direct connection to your injuries. A personal injury attorney can assist in collecting necessary documentation and presenting your case.
- What are Pre-Existing Conditions?
Pre-existing conditions encompass any medical condition existing before the accident or injury, ranging from chronic pain to prior surgeries. These conditions may or may not be related to the current injury.
For instance, chronic illnesses like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease can be considered pre-existing conditions. On the other hand, a back injury from a previous accident might also qualify as a pre-existing condition.
How can Pre-Existing Conditions Impact My Personal Injury Claim?
Pre-existing conditions can influence your personal injury claim in several ways:
The insurance company might argue that your pre-existing condition caused or worsened your injuries, making it challenging to prove the accident as the sole cause.
A lower settlement may be offered due to the belief that your pre-existing condition increases the likelihood of future medical issues.
The defendant might attempt to use your pre-existing condition to blame you for the accident, though this is a rare tactic.
What Can I Do to Protect My Claim with a Pre-Existing Condition?
Be honest and transparent with your attorney about your pre-existing conditions to better prepare your case.
Gather medical records documenting your pre-existing condition to establish its existence before the accident.
Obtain a medical opinion from your doctor on how the accident impacted your pre-existing condition, linking it to the current injuries.
Hire an experienced personal injury attorney who understands handling cases involving pre-existing conditions and fights for the compensation you deserve.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine
The eggshell plaintiff doctrine asserts that a defendant is liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, even if they have a pre-existing condition making them more susceptible to injury. This means that, regardless of your pre-existing condition, the defendant is responsible for all your injuries.
Examples of How Pre-Existing Conditions Can Impact Personal Injury Claims
If you have a pre-existing back injury from a previous accident and get rear-ended again, the insurance company may argue your previous injury caused the pain. However, proving the new injury resulted from the accident can help recover damages for that specific injury.
In a case involving diabetes, exposure to a toxic substance at work causing kidney problems may face the argument that diabetes makes you more susceptible. Proving the toxic substance as the sole cause can help recover damages.
Every personal injury case is unique, and having a pre-existing condition doesn’t preclude recovering damages. If injured, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to explore your legal options. Sunset West Legal Group is ready to assist you in navigating personal injury claims.