Can I Recover for a New Injury If I Have a Pre-Existing Injury?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Personal Injury |

Just as no two people are the same, neither are their accidents or their injuries. Every personal injury claim is different, and some can be more complex than others. However, a pre-existing injury doesn’t have to make your case unnecessarily complicated. Understanding how a previous injury affects your current personal injury claim and how you can avoid losing a new injury claim can help you recover the damages you deserve.

What is a pre-existing injury?

A pre-existing injury (or a pre-existing health condition) is an injury that a person had before an accident that caused their most recent injury.

In personal injury law, if an injury existed before the accident occurred and was unaffected by it, the at-fault party is not liable for the injury. However, even though victims cannot recover money for injuries they had before an accident, they are entitled to receive compensation to the extent that their injuries were worsened by an accident. In other words, damages are recoverable if an injury is related to the pre-existing injury and results in it becoming aggravated or exacerbated.

In fact, under what is known as the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine,” an at-fault party must take the victim as they find them, along with any pre-existing injuries or health conditions.

How can a pre-existing injury affect a personal injury claim?

Some victims may be reluctant to disclose a prior injury for fear that their claim will be denied. Although this reasoning is understandable, it isn’t the best course of action.

While insurance companies will seek to lessen or eliminate how much they pay out, not disclosing a pre-existing injury could work to your disadvantage. This is because insurance companies may be able to obtain your medical records and discover any pre-existing injuries or health conditions. The insurance company may then accuse you of withholding information. Hiding a prior injury can make you lose credibility. Therefore, the best tactic is to disclose any prior injuries up front and show how the injury changed following your accident.

How can you avoid the risks of losing a new injury claim?

In a personal injury claim, a pre-existing injury may complicate your case. Therefore, there are several things you should know to best prepare.

Seek prompt medical treatment

Obtaining timely medical attention for your injury can significantly help your case by showing that your injuries were the result of your accident. In addition to seeking immediate medical care, you will need to save relevant documentation, such as doctor’s appointments, test results, medical records, prescriptions, and other information related to your treatment.

Inform your doctor

It is important to inform your doctor about your most recent injury as well as the fact that you are filing a personal injury claim. Your doctor may conduct a medical evaluation that could help distinguish new injuries from old ones that have been aggravated. Notifying your doctor will also enable him or her to work with your lawyer and share pertinent information in furtherance of your case.

Inform your lawyer

Open and honest communication between attorney and client is essential for obtaining a positive outcome. When armed with all relevant facts, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you make a solid case by showing the connection between a recent injury and prior or continuing medical issues.

Work through a lawyer to share your medical records with an employer or insurance adjuster

Employers and insurance adjusters will find reasons to decrease the amount of money they must pay. An experienced attorney will know exactly which documents to share to obtain a fair and timely result. To protect your privacy and ensure that only necessary information is disclosed, it’s critical to work through a lawyer.

Contact Hunter and Everage for help with your personal injury claim

If you sustained an injury from a motor vehicle collision, a slip and fall, or another type of accident, our experienced and compassionate personal injury and disability attorneys can help you. A pre-existing injury does not preclude your ability to recover damages or obtain other compensation. Reach out to Hunter & Everage today to get personalized legal advice about your personal injury claim and increase your chances of success.

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