We all get injured at some point in our life and the older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from some kind of health condition or injury. In fact, millions of Americans have been diagnosed with some sort of medical issue at one point or another.
So, what happens when an accident aggravates a pre-existing injury or condition? Many victims are conditioned to believe that the words “pre-existing” and “insurance company” don’t mix and assume they can’t receive compensation if they bring forth a claim. Rest assured, this is not true. Any reputable Carrollton personal injury lawyer will tell you that a pre-existing condition won’t ruin your case. But here’s the kicker: you’ll need plenty of evidence and the right legal help to support your claim.
In this article, we’ll outline the rights that victims have when it comes to receiving compensation for their injuries and what they need to file a successful claim.
Types of Pre-Existing Conditions or Injuries
A “pre-existing condition” is any disease, injury, or health condition you have that predates your accident. These conditions include serious illnesses, such as osteoporosis and heart disease, and minor issues, such as a broken leg and tennis elbow.
Accidents don’t always make pre-existing conditions worse. For instance, a victim’s diabetes will likely not worsen after a slip-and-fall or a car wreck. Other injuries, however, could become more aggravated if you are involved in an accident. Types of these conditions include:
- previously broken bones
- back pain
- herniated disc
- neck pain
- degenerative disc disease
- fibromyalgia, and
- cardiovascular disease
It’s important to note that a pre-existing condition isn’t necessarily physical. Other types of pre-existing conditions that can worsen after an accident include mental conditions, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
An experienced Carrollton personal injury attorney will help you provide evidence that proves your pre-existing condition has been aggravated because of the accident (more on that in a few sections below.)
What is the Eggshell Skull Rule?
One important legal concept that applies to pre-existing conditions in Texas personal injury cases has a rather unusual name, called the “eggshell skull rule” (or sometimes referred to as the “take your victim as they are” rule.) This rule states that the frailty, weakness, sensitivity, or feebleness of a victim cannot be held against them.
The rule obtained its name from an imaginary scenario used to illustrate the concept to law students. Suppose a victim has a rare condition in which their skull is as weak as an eggshell. Obviously, such a condition would leave that person susceptible to injury, more so than the average person. Under the “eggshell skull rule,” the liable party is still responsible for all damages stemming from their negligence, even if the defendant didn’t know about their condition and even though the victim suffered injuries that wouldn’t have occurred if they were a “healthier” person.
In other words, the fact that you have a bad back or suffer from osteoporosis can’t be used to deny you compensation. A defendant has to take the victim as-is—pre-existing injuries and health conditions included. Under this doctrine, the insurance company or the person you’re trying to make a claim against can’t use your pre-existing condition against you, so long as:
- The at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident
- The condition was stable at the time of the accident, and
- Your injury or condition has worsened as a direct result of the accident
The most important takeaway from this rule is that you shouldn’t hesitate to contact a Carrollton personal injury lawyer if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, regardless of the state of your health before the accident.
Pre-Existing Condition Can Sometimes Make Filing a Claim Easier (If You Have Evidence)
Too often, victims fear that if they have a pre-existing condition they won’t be able to recover damages. And yes, the at-fault party’s insurance company or the person you’re trying to sue will certainly try their best to use that against you.
However, a pre-existing injury can sometimes make getting compensation easier, especially if you have medical evidence that paints a clear picture of your state of health before the accident and how that accident aggravated your injuries.
For example, let’s say you suffered from a back injury years ago and went to the doctor to treat your condition. Recently, someone rear-ended you and now you’re starting to feel excruciating pain in your back again due to a herniated disc. Following the accident, the defendant tries to argue that the pain you’re feeling now is caused by your pre-existing back injury. Luckily for you, you have ample medical records, such as MRIs and doctor’s notes, that show the condition of your back before the accident and there is no evidence of a herniated disc.
Remember, you’re entitled to recover for the damages you suffer because of the aggravation to a pre-existing condition—no matter what tactics the insurance company tries to use. An experienced Carrollton personal injury lawyer can help you receive compensation for your injuries by gathering the right medical documents or hiring the right experts that make it easier to measure the aggravation of your injuries.
Don't Let a Pre-Existing Condition Discourage You From Contacting a Carrollton Personal Injury Lawyer
You should never feel discouraged from pursuing compensation for your injuries just because of a pre-existing condition. As you might imagine, though, the at-fault party and their insurance company are looking to pay you as little as possible.
For this reason, it’s critical to speak with an experienced Carrollton personal injury lawyer after you’ve been in an accident—especially if you have pre-existing conditions that you think might affect your claim.
The lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare will fight diligently to protect your legal rights and ensure you receive adequate compensation for your injuries. We’ll do all the legwork, such as gathering medical records and working with your doctors, so that you can focus on your recovery. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.