Any number of events can result in a personal injury claim. Car accidents, work injuries, defective or dangerous products, malpractice, and injuries on the premises of another are just some examples. Generally, the goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to compensate the victim fairly and reasonably for the injuries and damages they have suffered.
But what happens when the victim already has an existing injury? What if that injury worsens or is exacerbated during the accident? Can the victim still recover for their damages — and if so, to what extent will the preexisting injuries affect compensation?
What Counts as Pre-Existing Injury in a Personal Injury Claim?
A preexisting injury or medical condition is one that the victim had prior to being involved in the accident leading to their new personal injury claim. For example, you may have suffered a concussion in the past, which has resurfaced in a new traumatic brain injury from a car accident. Or, you may have broken a specific bone and had it heal, only to re-break that same bone — likely with more serious effects — during a work accident.
Pre-existing injuries and conditions are not uncommon in personal injury suits — after all, most people deal with major or minor medical issues throughout the course of their lives. When those pre-existing injuries are exacerbated by a new accident, the victim may receive compensation for their damages, including hospital bills, medical treatments, and prescription costs. They may receive compensation not only for the worsening of their physical conditions, but also their mental anguish, psychological trauma, and overall effects on the quality of their lives.
How Does a Pre-Existing Injury Impact Whether You Can File a Personal Injury Suit?
It is important to note that you can still file a lawsuit even if you have a preexisting injury, particularly one that has worsened as a result of your accident. Your right to file a claim does not disappear simply because you may have been injured in the past, or because you have medical issues that impact the extent of the damages you have suffered. If you’ve been injured in an accident and have a pre-existing medical condition, it is important to meet with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer right away, so that you can discuss your rights, your options, and the ways your pre-existing injury might affect your recovery.
How Does This Impact How Much a Plaintiff Might Potentially Get, and Why?
The effects of a pre-existing injury on the amount of your recovery will be based on many different factors, such as:
- The type of injury or medical condition that has affected you previously
- The type of injuries you’ve freshly suffered in your accident
- The treatments and medical intervention you have received for your previous injuries in the past
- The extent to which your pre-existing injuries were worsened as a result of your accident
- The additional medical treatments you need to receive as a result of your accident
- The ways your new injuries have impacted the quality of your life
A pre-existing injury will affect your settlement negotiations with any insurance companies that are involved — after all, the goal of the insurer is to pay out as little as possible, and the company will most certainly argue that the amount of your recovery should be reduced as a result of your previous conditions.
As part of a personal injury suit, the other party and its insurer will receive information about your medical history during the process of discovery. The insurer will undoubtedly scour your medical history for any information about potential pre-existing conditions. Failing to disclose pre-existing injuries will only diminish your credibility and make the insurer and another party less likely to negotiate further, jeopardizing your claim in the process. For this reason, it is very important to be honest with your attorney about any pre-existing injuries. Discussing them and strategizing together will help your attorney put together a compelling case.
How Can Having an Experienced Attorney Help Your Case?
An experienced personal injury attorney can help accurately value your claim in light of any pre-existing injuries you may have. They will also work with you to emphasize the extent of damage a new injury has caused, and to explain the ways your accident has exacerbated or worsened your existing condition. They will speak to the other party or the insurance company on your behalf, negotiating a fair and reasonable settlement even in the face of existing injuries or medical conditions.
Personal injury claims are about protecting your rights and holding parties responsible when their careless or intentional acts cause you injury and adversely impact your life. We will evaluate your case and help you understand whether any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions might affect your case. We will fight to get you the medical care you need and the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call our firm at 817-663-2092 today to schedule a free and completely confidential personal injury consultation.