How pre-existing injuries can affect your personal injury claim

Pre-existing injuries should not prevent you from obtaining the personal injury settlement you deserve.

Not all personal injury victims are in perfect health at the time of their accident. Many have pre-existing conditions that may or may not be related to their current injury; however, that doesn’t stop insurance companies from trying to avoid liability. Having pre-existing injuries doesn’t have to prevent you from obtaining a settlement. Here is what you need to know in order to prevail.

Full Disclosure of your pre-existing injuries

When filing a personal injury claim, it’s imperative that you make a full disclosure of any medical problems, even if they do not appear related to your current condition. That’s because if an insurance adjuster later discovers you have withheld information, it could call your credibility into play and leave room for your claim to be denied. Your attorney cannot adequately defend you against these claims unless he or she has all the facts, which is why you will likely be given a detailed health questionnaire during the early stages of litigation. You may also be asked to undergo an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) by the defense. For more information about how to prepare for an IME see our article Independent Medical Examination – Tips to Protect Your Rights.

Proving your personal injury claim

Many clients are intimidated about reporting prior injuries because they fear insurance adjusters will try to minimize them. A common practice to claim that new injuries are actually old medical problems that were aggravated again, or that the plaintiff was not actually injured at all. For this reason, it’s especially important to visit a doctor as soon after your accident as possible to obtain a written narrative. A written narrative provides information about the extent of your new injuries, and provides a basis for establishing a claim in the first place.

In addition to your doctor’s narrative, it is also important for you to obtain as much other documentation about your injuries as possible. Documents showing the results of x-rays, CT scans and other diagnostic testing can all go a long way toward proving you were critically injured, especially if they show your condition became worse after you experienced the accident.

Even if your pre-existing condition was worsened, you still may not be able to recover damages unless you can prove the other party had a duty of care and breached that duty, resulting in injury. For this reason, it can also be helpful if you obtain as much documentation as possible about the accident itself by taking photographs and gathering witness statements.

The Eggshell Client

Defendants are required by law to take their clients as they find them. As such, a common argument that is used whenever a pre-existing condition exists is that of the “eggshell client.” Attorneys will sometimes argue that a pre-existing injury has resulted in a particular client being weaker or more fragile than others, thereby causing him or her to suffer more severe damage than what would normally be expected. The “eggshell client” defense tends to be used most often in cases where the accident in question appears rather mild, yet has resulted in a significant injury to the defendant.

Personal injury claims are tricky to defend, especially when the victim also has pre-existing injuries. If you have recently been involved in an accident, and worry a pre-existing condition could prevent you from obtaining a fair settlement, please contact an Orlando Personal Injury Attorney at David & Philpot, P.L. We’ll assess your case at no cost or obligation to determine whether or not a remedy is available for you under law. You can reach us anytime at 800.360.7015, or fill out our free case evaluation form and we’ll get right back with you.