You may notice that you are being asked about any pre-existing conditions when you file a personal injury claim with an insurance company. While you cannot receive compensation for old injuries, any aggravation caused to them by your accident can be claimed. You must be able to prove that the accident worsened your pre-existing condition, using medical records, diagnostic tests, and imaging. While it might be tempting to claim the injury was caused by the accident, or ignore the connection between the old injury and your new pain, there are reasons you should report pre-existing injuries in your claim. Here is how a pre-existing condition can affect your personal injury claim.
Types of Pre-Existing Injuries
Pre-existing conditions may take on a number of forms. It can be physical or mental. Some common pre-existing conditions or injuries include heart conditions, high blood pressure, asthma, depression, diabetes, anxiety, or musculoskeletal injuries. If you have a pre-existing injury that has been negatively affected by your accident, it is important to be honest with your lawyer about it. Work with your doctor to determine the extent of the damage caused by your new injuries, and document these changes for your claim. If you do not disclose your pre-existing conditions, the insurance company paying your claim may offer you less compensation or deny your claim altogether.
The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Theory
While few people enjoy feeling fragile, the reality is—those with pre-existing conditions are often pre-disposed to being more injured than a perfectly healthy person is. While it doesn’t make you more likely to suffer an accident, a pre-existing condition can make you more likely to be seriously injured in an accident. This is why the “eggshell plaintiff” theory is so important. Under this legal theory, insurance companies and defendants must take plaintiffs as-is, which means compensation cannot be denied due to the fact that their pre-existing condition made them more prone to a serious injury. It is important that the jury or defendant considers the previous state of the victim before the accident.
The Role of Medical Records in Injury Cases Involving Pre-Existing Injuries
In any injury case, medical records are a critical piece of evidence, but they can be even more important in a claim involving pre-existing injuries. If you had a previous injury or condition, your medical records can document the state you were in before the accident and can be compared to records created after the accident during your treatment. This can allow for your records to be compared and can demonstrate the changes you’ve experienced as a result of the accident. Your medical records should be details and comprehensive discuss your condition, but before and after the accident. Records that can show the differences between your pre-accident state and your post-accident state include:
- Imaging tests
- Diagnostic tests
- Physician reports
- Expert medical professional testimony
Your records can be used to demonstrate the ways that your accident affected your previous condition, the extent to which you were affected, and the symptoms, suffering, or other issues caused by the accident.
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At Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A., we pride ourselves on being aggressive advocates for our injured clients. We know the challenges you are facing, and we want you to feel confident that your case is in capable hands. Our Toledo personal injury attorneys are highly experienced and will do everything in our power to see that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you deserve.