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How Do Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

The Torres Law Firm March 22, 2024

Dealing with pre-existing medical conditions can greatly complicate a personal injury claim. It raises questions about the causation, severity, and compensation owed for the injury received. With higher stakes involved, understanding the issues surrounding these claims—as well as the laws and your options—is crucial for you to assert your rights.   

At The Torres Law Firm, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, and serving clients across Dallas and Fort Worth, we have experience managing personal injury claims, particularly those intertwined with pre-existing medical conditions. Our approach aims to help you work through these difficulties with professionalism, directness, empathy, and reassurance. If you've suffered an injury, reach out to us today for the support you need.  

Understanding Pre-Existing Conditions  

The term "pre-existing condition" refers to any health issue that existed before the accident or injury that is the subject of your personal injury claim. These conditions can range from chronic illnesses to previous injuries that had healed or were in the process of healing. You should understand two key aspects in this context: the legal principle known as the "eggshell skull" doctrine and how courts generally view pre-existing conditions.  

Eggshell Skull Doctrine  

The "eggshell skull" doctrine is a fundamental principle that underscores that a defendant must take their victim as they find them. This means if an individual has a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to injury, the at-fault party is still liable for all the resulting damages, even if those damages are more severe than what might have been expected with a healthier person. This principle helps to secure justice for those who might otherwise be unfairly disadvantaged due to their health status before an accident.  

How Courts View Pre-Existing Conditions 

The courts typically recognize the relevance of pre-existing conditions in personal injury cases and understand that an accident can exacerbate these conditions. However, it's important to fully disclose all relevant information about your pre-existing condition and the injury you suffered. Being transparent about your health history not only establishes trust but also makes sure the impact of the accident on your pre-existing conditions is accurately assessed and compensated.  

Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions on Personal Injury Claims  

The presence of a pre-existing condition does not diminish the validity of your personal injury claim but it does add a layer of complexity when trying to prove the extent to which the accident exacerbated your condition.   

This is where the role of medical expert testimony becomes invaluable. Experts can help delineate between the original state of the pre-existing condition and further injury caused by the accident. Their insights are central to establishing a clear, causative link between the incident and the exacerbation of your condition.  

In addition to expert testimony, various types of evidence can support your claim. This includes medical records predating the accident, documentation of changes in your condition post-accident, and any relevant diagnostic tests. Collectively, this evidence serves to paint a comprehensive picture of the impact the accident has had on your pre-existing condition.  

Steps for Proving Your Claim  

Proving that your personal injury was caused by the accident and not pre-existing conditions involves meticulous documentation and strategic legal steps. Key among these is the differential diagnosis method, a medical process used by healthcare professionals to identify a specific disease or condition in a patient. Here’s how it can be applied to your case:  

  1. Initial Medical Evaluation: Obtain a thorough medical evaluation immediately after the accident. This should document your injuries and differentiate between your new injuries and your pre-existing condition(s).  

  1. Historical Health Records: Compile comprehensive medical records that predate the accident. These serve as a baseline to demonstrate your health status before the incident occurred.  

  1. Expert Testimony: Enlist medical experts who can testify to the nature of your injuries and how they relate specifically to the accident. These professionals can utilize differential diagnoses to clearly distinguish between the injuries caused by the accident and your pre-existing condition(s).  

  1. Continuous Medical Monitoring: Keep a record of ongoing medical treatments post-accident. This documentation can show the progression of your injuries and help establish their connection to the accident.  

  1. Legal Representation: Engage with legal professionals who are experienced in handling personal injury cases that involve pre-existing conditions. Their expertise will be critical for constructing a compelling case that clearly delineates your injuries from any pre-existing conditions.  

By carefully following these steps and ensuring all medical and legal actions are thoroughly documented, you can bolster your claim and help prove that the injuries for which you seek compensation were directly caused by the accident, rather than a pre-existing condition.  

Tips for Handling Personal Injury Claims With Pre-Existing Conditions  

Working through a personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Here are some tips to help you manage:  

  1. Be Transparent: From the outset, it's imperative to be open about your pre-existing conditions with your legal team. This transparency allows us to build a robust case that accurately reflects the impact of the accident on your health.  

  1. Gather Comprehensive Medical Documentation: Make sure you have detailed medical records both before and after the accident. These documents are key pieces of evidence that can support your claim.  

  1. Consult With Medical Experts: Working closely with medical professionals who can testify to the aggravation of your conditions post-accident can strengthen your case significantly.  

Seek Help From a Personal Injury Attorney 

At The Torres Law Firm, our attorneys are committed to working through personal injury claims, helping to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve, especially with the added challenge of pre-existing conditions. Our goal is not only to provide legal representation but a supportive partnership. If you or a loved one is dealing with a personal injury claim involving pre-existing conditions, reach out to us. Let us lend our experience and support to help you through this challenging time.