How a Pre-Existing Condition Could Affect My Personal Injury Claim

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Personal Injury Published on September 10, 2019 and updated on March 4, 2022.

treating an injuryIf you were injured in an accident but have a pre-existing injury, you might wonder how your pre-existing injury will affect your claim or whether you can file a claim at all. Pre-existing injuries can complicate a personal injury claim, especially when a new accident aggravates the pre-existing condition.

Below, we discuss what qualifies as a pre-existing condition and why it is important to disclose your injuries. If you have any questions regarding your personal injury claim, contact the experienced Maryland personal injury lawyers at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices for help.

Defining a Pre-Existing Condition

A pre-existing condition in this context is one that affects the same body part or system that was injured in the accident. In personal injury cases, the at-fault party’s insurance policy is responsible for covering the victim’s damages. This involves repairing or replacing a vehicle in a car accident, compensating the victim for lost wages and paying for the medical treatment that is needed to make the injured party as healthy as he or she was prior to the accident. However, the at-fault party is not responsible for compensating the victim for injuries he or she did not cause.

An accident victim may have had a pre-existing medical condition that was affected by the subsequent accident. This may be due to a previous accident, such as falling at work or it could be due to a chronic condition like degenerative disc disease.

If the accident did not cause an injury, the at-fault party is not responsible for paying for these damages. However, if you had an injury and it was made worse because of the at-fault party’s actions, you can be compensated for the additional pain, suffering and medical expenses you incurred due to the aggravation.

Common examples of pre-existing conditions include:

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Heart conditions
  • Spinal stenosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

If you had any of these conditions or another pre-existing condition, be sure to share this information with your medical provider and attorney so he or she can develop a legal strategy.

The Eggshell Plaintiff

The “eggshell plaintiff” is a character in an imaginary case that illustrates the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine.” In this story, the negligent party was not aware that the victim had a skull that was as thin as an eggshell. According to the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, the negligent party should still fully compensate the victim for the damages he or she sustained even though the victim was particularly vulnerable to injury due to this thin skull.

Under this theory, it does not matter that the negligent party was unaware of the victim’s pre-existing condition, even if this condition played a role in how severe the victim’s injuries were.

This means that a victim cannot be denied compensation simply because they have a pre-existing condition that may have made them more susceptible to injury.

Disclosing Pre-Existing Injuries

Accident victims need to be honest with their personal injury attorney about any pre-existing conditions. Failing to disclose this information can adversely affect the claim and the possibility of obtaining compensation.

If a new injury affects the same area as an old one and makes the prior injury worse, the victim can still receive compensation from the new accident. However, if the victim fails to share this information with his or her attorney, the claim can be compromised.

Why Hiding a Pre-Existing Condition Is a Bad Idea

In personal injury cases, the at-fault party can request medical records that are relevant to the case, so they may find a condition that the victim did not disclose. This can harm the victim’s credibility.

Contact an Experienced Attorney for Assistance Today

If you have a pre-existing condition and have been injured in an accident, it may be in your best interest to contact a licensed lawyer with experience dealing with similar cases.

Our dedicated legal team at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices is available to discuss your claim during a free consultation with no obligation to take legal action. We do not charge for our services unless we successfully obtain compensation for your case

Set up your free consultation by calling 410-244-7005.