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Did a Car Accident Aggravate
a Pre-Existing Condition?

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
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Accident victims cannot seek compensation for pre-existing medical conditions or injuries. Yet, if the accident worsens an existing condition, you may seek damages for the resulting deterioration. However, seeking compensation for an aggravated injury may be complicated.

As a legal attorney with years of experience, I will explore the complexities of car accidents and pre-existing conditions, the legal framework that protects victims, and the steps you can take to pursue compensation.

Quick Summary

  • Car accidents can aggravate pre-existing conditions, and the eggshell doctrine may entitle victims to compensation with help from a personal injury attorney.
  • Disclosing your medical history, previous injury, or pre-existing conditions is essential for successful motor vehicle collision claims, as they can be subject to evaluation by insurance companies.
  • Before the auto accident, any injury, illness, or existing medical condition is considered a pre-existing condition.

Can A Car Accident Aggravate A Pre-Existing Condition?

Person getting a CT scan for a pre-existing conditionCar accidents can aggravate a pre-existing condition, leading to increased pain and suffering. Insurance companies are well known for trying to avoid paying claims by arguing that your injury was already present before the accident or that the crash didn’t worsen your condition.

But what if your prior injury or medical condition contributed to the severity of your injuries?

The eggshell rule in personal injury cases states that the at-fault party must take the victim as they are found, even if their previous injury or pre-existing conditions lead to more severe injuries [1].

This means you can recover compensation if a car accident aggravates your pre-existing condition.

What Is A Pre-Existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is any injury, illness, or pre-existing medical condition before the auto accident. This can include a wide range of health issues, from chronic back pain to traumatic brain injuries and other pre-existing medical conditions [2].

Insurance companies will often scrutinize your medical records regarding car accidents to determine if your injury was already present before the crash. 

In some cases, they may argue that your condition was not aggravated by the accident, making it more challenging to recover compensation for your losses.

Disclosing pre-existing conditions to your attorney is essential to ensure the insurance company is aware of them in your claim.

Failing to do so may hurt the outcome of your claim. The insurance company will be responsible for covering any treatment the person would not have otherwise required if a person’s pre-existing condition was exacerbated in a car accident.

Related Article: Dealing With Insurance Companies?

Types Of Pre-Existing Conditions That Can Be Aggravated In Collisions

pre-existing condition medical form

Degenerative conditions, such as degenerative disk disease or arthritis, can be aggravated by the force of a car crash, resulting in more severe injuries. 

Additionally, the following pre-existing conditions can also be exacerbated in collisions:

It’s important to be aware of the potential for aggravation of pre-existing car accident conditions and seek appropriate medical care immediately following the crash.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment can minimize the impact of an aggravated condition and strengthen your personal injury claim.

“Proving liability for accident injuries can be harder when the victim has a pre-existing condition or injury.

The insurance company, judge, or jury must decide if the accident caused the problem to worsen, or if it would have worsened anyway.”- John Hipskind, Private Sector Defense Attorney at Hipskind & McAninch.

Read Also: What Doctor to See After a Car Crash?

Making A Claim For An Aggravated Pre-Existing Injury

Lawyer's gavel on medical papersClaiming an aggravated pre-existing injury involves understanding the eggshell doctrine and how it protects victims with pre-existing conditions.

The eggshell doctrine acknowledges that victims with pre-existing conditions may be more vulnerable to injury caused by the defendant’s negligence. It thus holds the defendant liable for any additional harm caused.

To make an insurance claim for an aggravated pre-existing injury, you must demonstrate that the car accident was the source of the aggravation [3].

This can be achieved by supplying medical records, witness statements, and other relevant evidence that demonstrates the accident caused the aggravation.

Defining the Eggshell Doctrine

Lawyer's gavel on medical papersThe eggshell doctrine, also known as the eggshell plaintiff rule, is a legal principle that states that defendants are liable for the severity of injuries they cause, regardless of the victim’s pre-existing fragility.

This rule, often called the “thin skull rule,” means that if a defendant causes harm to a victim, they must pay damages for the full extent of the injury, even if the victim’s pre-existing condition made them more susceptible to harm.

The Eggshell Doctrine is an important legal term for car accident lawsuits involving pre-existing conditions.

How Does The Eggshell Doctrine Protect Victims With Pre-Existing Conditions?

The eggshell doctrine protects victims with pre-existing conditions by holding defendants liable for all damages caused by their negligence, regardless of the victim’s pre-existing condition.

The eggshell doctrine guarantees that victims can pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by accidents.

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FAQs

Can I Recover Compensation For A Pre-Existing Condition?

No, you cannot recover compensation for a pre-existing condition. Such conditions do not qualify for reimbursement. However, if the accident aggravated your pre-existing condition, you may be eligible for compensation under the Eggshell Doctrine.

How Can I Prove My Car Accident Injury Wasn’t A Pre-Existing Condition?

You can prove that your car accident injury wasn’t a pre-existing condition by providing your complete medical history and having doctors testify on your behalf.

What If A Car Accident Aggravated My Pre-Existing Condition?

If a car accident aggravated your pre-existing condition, you may be eligible for compensation under the eggshell doctrine. This legal principle holds the defendant liable for any damages resulting from their negligence, regardless of the victim’s pre-existing condition.

If you have a pre-existing condition and are involved in an accident, be helpful to get legal help from experienced attorneys. They can help you with your accident claim and increase the amount of compensation you receive.

At Schmidt & Clark, LLP, our personal injury attorneys know much about personal injury law. They can help you build your case against the defendant(s) and insurance companies.

This can prevent your claim from being rejected or getting less money because of your pre-existing condition. Contact us for a free consultation.

Contact Schmidt & Clark for a free lawsuit consultation.


References:

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/eggshell_skull_rule#:~:text=The%20eggshell%20skull%20rule%2C%20also,defendant’s%20negligent%20or%20intentional%20tort.
  2. https://www.healthinsurance.org/glossary/pre-existing-condition/
  3. https://lab.mlaw.gov.sg/files/Accident-Personal-Injury-Publication.pdf

 

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