Pre-Existing Conditions And Personal Injury Claims

March 16, 2018 | By O'Connor Acciani & Levy
Pre-Existing Conditions And Personal Injury Claims

Personal injury claims can become much more complicated when the victim has a pre-existing injury. Sometimes the victim's attorneys will need to prove the injury is unrelated to the pre-existing condition. There are other times where the victim's attorneys will need to prove the new injury caused the existing medical issue to get worse, and this would not have happened unless the injury occurred. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Cincinnati can explain how your pre-existing injury may impact your claim and work to ensure you are not unfairly denied compensation. Schedule a free legal consultation today to learn more about how we may be able to help you through the legal process.

Eggshell Skull Rule

Pre-existing conditions often make people more susceptible to other injuries. However, the eggshell skull legal doctrine says that the negligent party in a personal injury claim is not released from liability simply because the plaintiff was more susceptible to injury because of a pre-existing medical issue or some other factor. Victims with pre-existing conditions may still be entitled to compensation if they can show their pre-existing injuries got worse because of the new injury.

Types Of Pre-existing Injuries

There are many different types of pre-existing injuries. However, there are a few that are commonly aggravated by personal injuries caused by negligence, including:
  • Degenerative disc disease –This condition involves the deterioration of one or more intervertebral discs in the spinal column. Many people develop this condition as part of the natural aging process. A personal injury can cause this condition to flare up, causing debilitating side effects that limit mobility and make it difficult to work. Injuries that cause a flare up of degenerative disc disease often occur in motor vehicle crashes and slip and fall accidents.
  • Back injuries – Back injuries are often caused by heavy lifting or another accident, like a motor vehicle crash. A new injury may cause existing back problems to flare up. In some cases, this happens right after the accident and in others it could take days or weeks for the victim to notice back problems.
  • Neck injuries – If the victim slipped and fell in a previous situation or suffered whiplash in a motor vehicle accident, he or she may have a pre-existing neck injury. It may require extensive medical records to show that the victim’s injuries were different before and after the accident.

Disclosing Pre-existing Injuries

Some injury victims are afraid to disclose their pre-existing condition because they think their claim will be denied. However, having a pre-existing injury does not necessarily bar you from recovering compensation. Many injury victims with pre-existing conditions see their compensation awards reduced, instead of being completely denied. It is very important to discuss pre-existing injuries with your personal injury lawyer, even if you think these medical issues are not relevant to your claim or are minor compared to your new injury. This will help your lawyer determine if you are owed compensation. Your lawyer also needs to know about the old injury so he or she can prepare the best legal strategy for addressing the issue with the insurance company or at trial. If your attorney does not find out until later in the process, it could be much more difficult to secure compensation. Even if you do not disclose the pre-existing injury, your attorney and the insurance company will eventually find out when reviewing your medical records. This could make the insurance company suspicious about your new injury being caused by the accident, which could make the entire process much more difficult. There are several factors that determine how a pre-existing injury will affect a personal injury claim:
  • The body parts affected by the old and new injuries
  • The length of time between when you were diagnosed with the pre-existing injury and suffered the new injury
  • The status of your recovery from the pre-existing injury
  • Whether the new injury has caused your pre-existing injury to worsen

How An Attorney Can Help

If you are a personal injury victim with a pre-existing injury, you can be sure the insurance company will try to use it against you when you pursue compensation. This is one of the reasons why you need a skilled personal injury lawyer at your side. The attorneys at O'Connor, Acciani & Levy know how to manage cases involving victims with pre-existing injuries. We will do a thorough analysis of your medical records to show how the new injury has affected your life. Our personal injury lawyers can discuss your claim during a free, no-obligation consultation. You will not be charged for our services unless you receive compensation.