If you were recently involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, you might wonder what impact a pre-existing condition will have on your accident claim. Can you still pursue compensation for the harm you have suffered? What happens if the new injury was to the same body part as a previous injury? Is your claim extinguished because you happened to have a pre-existing injury?
An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help sort through this confusion.
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
In personal injury claims, a pre-existing condition is any health problem you had before the date of the accident.
Examples of a Pre-Existing Condition
Suppose you were recently involved in a car accident. You suffered a back injury in that accident.
You may have previously had a back injury because of:
If you had a pre-existing condition on another part of your body, this likely would not impact your claim, and you should still be able to receive full compensation. However, your claim may be affected if you had a pre-existing condition to the same body part that was injured in the collision. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain this information to you.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine
The eggshell plaintiff doctrine or eggshell skull rule is the legal principle that a defendant in a personal injury case is responsible for the harm a plaintiff suffered due to their negligent actions, even if that particular plaintiff is unusually susceptible to injury.
For example, if the plaintiff had a skull that was as thin as an eggshell, the defendant should not benefit from that characteristic by not being required to pay full compensation to them.
This legal principle applies to personal injury claims in which the plaintiff has a pre-existing injury. Even if the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition that made them more susceptible to injury, that fact alone does not mean their claim for compensation is extinguished.
Types of Situations When Compensation Is Available If You Had a Pre-Existing Condition
There are various scenarios in which you can still recover compensation for the current car accident claim even if you had a pre-existing condition to the same body part, including:
Exacerbation of Your Injury
In some cases, you may have suffered a previous injury, but the new injury worsens your condition. Suppose you had a knee injury stemming from a football injury back in high school. You suffer moderate pain from time to time. However, the car accident caused your injury to flare up, and now you are suffering more severe pain and swelling. You can pursue a claim based on the exacerbation or worsening of your previous injury.
A New Injury
Take the same example as before. Suppose you suffered a soft tissue injury to ligaments in your knee before. The car accident caused you to break your kneecap. You can pursue compensation for damages you suffered related to the new injury.
Likewise, if you suffer new symptoms because of the new injury, you have a right to pursue compensation for them.
Importance of Disclosing Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Some accident victims are afraid that if the insurance company knows that they have a pre-existing condition, they will not be able to recover any compensation from the accident. They may decide to lie to the insurance company or their lawyer about this information.
However, it is often possible for the insurance company to learn about these pre-existing medical conditions as part of the claims process or discovery if a lawsuit is filed. If this happens, the insurance company is more likely to deny the claim because they will not trust that the victim was being honest.
Proving Your New Injury or Exacerbation of an Old Injury
In order to recover compensation for a new injury or exacerbation of an old injury, you will need strong evidence to differentiate the two events.
This evidence may include medical records, such as records that confirm the following:
- The diagnosis
- The dates you received medical treatment
- The treatment you received
- Your response to treatment
- New injuries or symptoms you experienced
- The costs of treatment
- Results from diagnostic tests
In some cases, it may be necessary to retain an expert witness who can testify about the differences between your old and new injuries. Working with an established law firm can help you pursue the compensation you deserve since they may have the resources and expert witness network you can rely on to help establish your claim.
What Compensation Can You Seek for New Injuries?
If you suffered injury to a different body part or a new injury, you can seek compensation for the full value of your losses, including:
- Medical expenses to treat the new injury, including rehabilitation and medication
- Lost wages you incurred because of the new injury
- Pain and suffering brought on by the new injury
The amount of compensation you can receive for the aggravation of a pre-existing injury depends on your ability to prove:
- The severity of the new condition
- How the worsening of the pre-existing condition has affected the quality of your life
California’s jury instructions advise jurors that if you had a physical or emotional condition that was worsened by the defendant’s negligent actions, jurors must award damages that will fairly compensate you for the effect on your pre-existing condition.
Do you have a pre-existing condition, and are you worried about how it might impact your car accident claim? You might still have the right to pursue compensation for the harm you have recently suffered. Our car crash lawyers in Los Angeles can help.
We won’t let the insurance company try to bully you into believing you are not due compensation just because you had a pre-existing condition at the time of the accident. We’ll help you seek the compensation and accountability you deserve. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation at (877) 300-4535.