Personal injury claims are fairly common, but your claim can become complicated if you already have medical conditions. That said, even if you have a pre-existing condition, you can still make a personal injury claim. With the help of a personal injuries lawyer who is well-versed in the law and knows how to build your personal injury case, you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injury.
Can You Still Make a Personal Injury Claim if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition?
Personal injury claims are typically filed when someone has been injured in an accident caused by another person’s or organization’s negligence, carelessness, or even intentional actions. The goal of a personal injury claim is to hold the liable party responsible for the injuries and to compensate for medical bills, pain, suffering, and other negative impacts of the personal injury.
But what if you already have a pre-existing condition, such as a disability, chronic illness, or other condition? The fact of the matter is that you can still file a personal injury claim even if you already have an existing condition if you can prove that the accident aggravated your condition, made the condition worse, or caused a new injury.
How Compensation Works In This Case
In any personal injury case, the defendant (person liable for the accident or injury) is required to compensate you for any damage you sustain as a result of an accident. This can include wages, medical bills, ongoing treatment, and much more based on the severity of your injury. That said, a defendant is only obligated to compensate for damages that happen because of an accident, which is why pre-existing conditions make personal injury cases slightly more complicated.
In general, a defendant’s legal team will need to prove that the accident did not make a pre-existing condition worse. If you have other injuries in addition to injuries that worsened a pre-existing condition and the defendant can prove that the accident did not worsen your condition, then you may only receive compensation for injuries not associated with your pre-existing condition. Many defendants try to claim that their actions did not cause injuries at all.
The Eggshell Doctrine in Houston, TX
In Texas, the use of the Eggshell Doctrine is common in personal injury claims where there are pre-existing conditions. This doctrine suggests that some victims are more vulnerable to injuries because of their pre-existing medical conditions, particularly because negligence can cause situations that further aggravate injuries or create new injuries.
With this doctrine, the defendant must be held responsible for injuries related to the victim, even if the victim has special conditions or pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to injury. Even if the defendant was not aware of the victim’s pre-existing conditions, they are still liable for injuries and compensation.
How This Helps
Many defendants try to argue that they should not be held responsible for injuries when people are already more likely to be injured due to pre-existing conditions. However, the law is not on their side with this argument. The Eggshell Doctrine protects victims from this argument by holding defendants accountable – and by reassuring victims that even if they have pre-existing conditions, they can still seek compensation for injuries.
Pre-Existing Conditions in Personal Injury Cases
So, what is a pre-existing condition? For the purposes of a personal injury claim, a pre-existing condition is an injury or medical condition that you have previously experienced or perhaps are still coping with. For example, a previous neck injury, a progressive spine disease, or even existing disabilities can qualify as a pre-existing condition.
Pre-existing conditions in a personal injury claim will make your case only slightly more complicated. When you make a personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition, you will need to provide evidence of the pre-existing condition, including treatment records from the past, and any treatment records after the accident that prove the same injury or area was treated.
Disclosing Your Injury
If you’ve been harmed in an accident, one of the first things you will do is seek medical treatment. But when it’s time to contact a lawyer, one of the first things you will need to tell your personal injuries lawyer is about any pre-existing conditions you may have. Fully disclosing your pre-existing conditions gives your lawyer a working foundation to build your case.
Some victims may hesitate to disclose a pre-existing condition under the misapprehension that their previous injury will prevent them from making a personal injury claim. However, since that is not the case, it’s important to disclose all of your medical conditions, both to your legal team and to your treating physician.
Gathering Medical Documents
Part of building your personal injury case will include gathering medical documents that will be used as evidence in your claim. Your personal injuries lawyer will help you gather documents with medical release forms. It’s important to be specific about the dates of your medical release forms as overbroad documents may be rejected. For people with pre-existing conditions, only gather documents as far as your initial injury and the treatment involved for your pre-existing condition.
In many personal injury cases, it’s part of the process to undergo an IME or an independent medical evaluation. An IME will generate more evidence for your case since a physician will examine your injury to make an objective assessment of the severity of your injury and the extend of your recovery. If you have a pre-existing condition, it’s important to disclose your condition to the IME physician so your report can be accurate.
Establish Your Health
A huge part of making a personal injury claim when you have a pre-existing condition is establishing your health before the accident. You must document that your previous injury has already healed, was not bothering you, or was well-managed before the accident. Your previous health records, such as MRIs and doctor assessments, will be able to verify these claims, particularly when they are compared with the most recent treatment documents after your accident.
How Can a Personal Injuries Lawyer Help Your Case?
A personal injuries lawyer understands all of the legal arguments that are associated with a personal injury claim, especially for those who had pre-existing conditions. Your lawyer understands that a pre-existing condition does not preclude you from compensation. After all, even if you had an old injury, would you still need recent medical treatment for the injury? In all likelihood, the answer is no – and that’s why you require compensation.
A skilled lawyer will be able to help you gather relevant medical documents, collect physician testimony, and help you document your past and current condition to help you prove your case. Your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf or help you argue your claim in court.
Although your claim may be slightly more complex, it’s still possible to be awarded fair compensation for your injuries, medical treatment, loss of wages, and other negative impacts of the accident. For more information about personal injury claims with pre-existing conditions, please contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, TX today.