Let’s start with two definitions.
Personal Injury Claim: A lawsuit brought when one party has suffered injury to their body, mind, or emotions, due to the negligence, reckless conduct, carelessness, or malicious intent of another person or entity.
Pre-Existing Condition: This one is a little trickier, because pre-existing conditions are usually thought of in conjunction with health insurance. For our purpose here, a pre-existing condition is an illness or injury that the injured party already had before the incident that resulted in the personal injury claim.
Not surprisingly, the answer to the question, how do pre-existing conditions impact personal injury claims?, like most legal questions, is complicated.
You can’t seek compensation for pre-existing injuries that are not the direct result of the incident or accident. But, and this is an important but, you may be able to seek compensation if your pre-existing condition is made worse due to that incident or accident. And worse, in this case, doesn’t have to just mean physical injury, but may also include emotional and psychological damage, even PTSD.
There is also something in common law doctrine called…
The eggshell plaintiff rule is also known as the “thin skull rule.” According to this rule or doctrine, “You take your victim as you find him.” In practical terms, that means the responsible party can’t deny fault just because they didn’t know the victim had a pre-existing condition. The example often given, the one that gave the rule its name, is a person born with an eggshell-thin skull that suffers unforeseen and traumatic head injuries from an accident, injuries that wouldn’t usually be expected.
Insurance companies will try to prove that your pre-existing condition is the underlying reason for your injuries. They’ll try to minimize the extent of your current injuries. It’s therefore important that you keep records, and document your health as it exists with your pre-condition, and also post accident. This will help combat insurance company assertions that you were not injured because of the accident. At the end of the day, it’s up to you, as the injured party, to prove the accident or incident caused your injuries, and they are not just the result of your pre-existing condition.
As should be clear, personal injuries can be complicated and hard to prove in the best of circumstances, and even more so when pre-existing conditions are involved. Be sure you contact an attorney who is well versed in personal injury cases, has the staff and resources necessary to fully represent you, and the experience to recover the settlement you’re entitled to.
If you or a loved one were involved in a personal injury incident, contact the attorneys at LaSalvia Law. We will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.
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