What if I Had a Pre-existing Condition Before a Car Accident?
A pre-existing injury or condition can affect a personal injury claim after a car accident. It is common practice for insurance companies to look for ways to diminish your credibility, minimize the severity of your injuries, and generally discredit your claim. Adjustors may try and show that your injuries were not caused by the accident in an attempt to pay out as little as possible. What happens if you had a pre-existing medical condition before the crash? Can you still recover compensation under California law?
The short answer is yes. Few people can say they are in perfect health. Whether you suffer from degenerative disc disease, had a prior concussion, or old sports injuries to your shoulders and knees, you need to disclose these to your lawyer right away. Any attempt to conceal previous illness or health conditions will undermine your credibility and the strength of your claim.
Pre-existing conditions and car accident damages
Disclosing this information to the defendant in no way jeopardizes your case. You cannot seek damages for an injury or condition that started months or years ago, but you can pursue compensation from the at-fault party if the accident made your pre-existing condition demonstrably worse.
You have a right to be reimbursed for a pre-existing injury or condition that was aggravated by a negligent driver’s actions. You also have a right to seek compensation for new injuries that resulted from the crash, and the best way to do is by aligning yourself with a capable Los Angeles car accident lawyer.
Ellis Law has successfully represented dozens of clients with both minor and significant pre-existing health conditions and knows what it takes to achieve a favorable outcome when an accident makes it worse. It is our goal to help clients recover maximum compensation for their injuries and losses, and we do this by demonstrating the totality of your suffering with carefully chosen expert testimony.
When the accident aggravates a pre-existing condition
Under California law, “if a plaintiff had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by the defendant’s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate him/her for the effect on that condition.”
For degenerative conditions or previous injuries that started before the accident, you’ll need old medical records that confirm your diagnosis, the dates you were under medical care, and the treatments provided.
The amount of compensation you can seek for the aggravation of a pre-existing condition will depend on how effectively you can prove the severity of the condition, and how its worsening has affected the quality of your life. Detailed medical records and expert opinion along with all related medical expenses are submitted as evidence to support your personal injury claim.
Health conditions or injuries worsened by car accidents
It doesn’t matter if you are 25 or 65, there are a number of conditions that can be worsened or aggravated by the impact of a vehicle accident. If you fractured your wrist, and the bones had just begun to set, an accident could make you more vulnerable to re-injury. Other injuries or illnesses that can be exacerbated in a crash include:
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Spinal stenosis
- Nerve disorders
Your legal counsel needs to know every detail of your medical history and prior conditions before submitting a personal injury claim to the insurance company. With adequate knowledge, they can defend any arguments raised and formulate the best strategy for recovering full compensation.
Eggshell legal doctrine
In California, personal injury plaintiffs who have pre-existing conditions or injuries are afforded protections under the “Eggshell” doctrine. This legal theory states that victims of personal injuries — no matter how frail they are – deserve to be compensated by liable parties as they are. In other words, your settlement or damage award should not be lessened just because you are more vulnerable to injury than the average person.
Personalized, client-focused representation in Los Angeles
Choosing the right car accident attorney can help you get around the hurdles of a personal injury claim involving pre-existing conditions. For more than two decades, Ellis Law has helped accident victims achieve the justice and compensation they deserve in Southern California. We do this by presenting compelling evidence through medical records, expert testimony, and detailed physician notes about how the accident worsened your condition.
Explore your legal options by calling our Los Angeles office for a free consultation. We offer award-winning personal injury representation on contingency only, so you only pay if we recover compensation in your claim. Our verdicts and settlements speak for themselves, so you have everything to gain by reaching out for a complimentary case review.