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How preexisting conditions can affect your personal injury settlement

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | Personal Injury

When you’re involved in an accident that leads to a personal injury claim, the entire process can be overwhelming. One factor that complicates matters even more is the presence of preexisting conditions. These are health issues that existed before the incident involving a personal injury claim occurred. Understanding how these conditions can influence the outcome of your settlement is crucial for everyone.

Preexisting conditions are a double-edged sword

Preexisting conditions can impact your personal injury case in two main ways.

  1. They might weaken your claim if the defense argues that your current injuries were primarily due to your existing health issues rather than the accident.
  2. If the accident made your preexisting conditions worse, you might have a strong case for receiving a higher compensation.

Disclosure is essential

Honesty is always the best policy, especially regarding legal matters. It’s essential to disclose any preexisting conditions during the legal process. Hiding them can backfire and severely undermine a claimant’s credibility in the eyes of the court or during settlement negotiations. It is always best to provide your lawyer with complete and accurate information about your medical history.

Medical records and expert testimony

Your medical records are vital in distinguishing between injuries caused by the recent incident and symptoms of your preexisting conditions. Detailed records can show the state of your health before and after the accident, highlighting any exacerbations due to the incident. Sometimes, having a medical expert testify about how the accident impacted your preexisting conditions is also helpful.

The eggshell plaintiff doctrine

This legal doctrine might work in your favor if you have preexisting conditions. It states that a defendant must take a victim as they find them. In other words, if your preexisting condition made you more susceptible to injury, the person responsible for causing the accident cannot use your frailty as a defense. They are liable for all your injuries, even if they are more severe than they would have been for a typical person without such conditions.

Negotiating a fair settlement

When negotiating a settlement, the severity and impact of your preexisting conditions play a significant role. Insurance companies often try to minimize settlement amounts by arguing that the recent incident did not directly cause harm. Your lawyer can argue that the accident exacerbated your condition, thereby justifying a higher compensation.

Be prepared and patient

Remember, each personal injury case is unique, and how preexisting conditions affect your settlement can vary widely. With the right approach, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve for the worsening of your conditions caused by the accident.