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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

July 29, 2021Personal Injury

A pre-existing injury can potentially affect your personal injury claim, but it depends on the specifics of your situation. In any personal injury case, the at-fault party is responsible for making the injured party whole or as close as possible to the way they were before the accident. However, that doesn’t mean in better condition than you were before the accident.

How Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Claim?

A defendant (at-fault party) is only responsible for compensating a plaintiff (victim) for the injuries they directly cause. This can create a legal grey area if you have a pre-existing condition. The law clearly states you still have the right to recover compensation regardless of your pre-existing condition, but the defendant is only liable for the injuries they took part in. Although you may be able to obtain compensation if a pre-existing injury that the accident made worse.

Unfortunately, however, it can sometimes be challenging to determine which injuries were sustained when. Additionally, a pre-existing condition can raise suspicion about the treatment you received before and after the accident. For example, if you were already in treatment for an injury and continued it after the accident, that can be a disadvantage. Unless you have medical evidence of the accident furthering your injury, an insurance company will likely deny compensating you for that treatment.

This doesn’t mean a pre-existing injury should discourage you from pursuing compensation. An attorney can help you establish the difference in the severity of your injury before and after the accident, as well as how your life has been impacted.

The “Eggshell Skull Rule”

Under the “Eggshell Skull Rule,” personal injury defendants (i.e., at-fault parties) are liable for the full extent of a plaintiff’s (i.e., the injured party who’s suing) injuries, no matter what the plaintiff’s predisposition to injury may be. In other words, although a pre-existing condition can make a person more prone to injury in an accident, the defendant must take the plaintiff as they are. Compensation cannot be denied simply because the victim had a pre-existing injury.

The Importance of Medical Records

Medical records are a critical piece of evidence in any personal injury claim, but especially one that involves pre-existing injuries. Your medical records will provide the facts of your health when the accident took place and support how the accident aggravated your pre-existing injury. When building your case, your attorney may gather the following:

  • Imaging
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Physician reports and notes
  • Physical therapy reports
  • Testimony from expert medical professionals
  • Journal documenting your pain and symptoms

The more detailed and comprehensively discussed your condition is, the better. Additionally, medical records collected after the accident should explain how your pre-existing injury has changed since the accident, the symptoms you experience, and how your life is impacted.

If you or someone you love has been injured by someone else’s negligent or wrongful act, you are entitled to compensation regardless of having a pre-existing injury. Call (314) 888-1000 and schedule a free consultation with an experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyer who can help you today.

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