Is it Worth Filing a Personal Injury Claim if I have a Pre-existing Condition?

If you were involved in an injury accident that exacerbated pre-existing health conditions, you may wonder if it is worth suing the negligent party. After all, can’t they just come back and try to pin everything on your pre-accident health issues?

Filing a Personal Injury Claim with Pre-existing Condition
(T.H. Chia / unsplash)

As Utah personal injury lawyers, we hear about scenarios like this all the time:

  • I already had a bad back, but the car accident made it worse.
  • My shoulder has given me trouble since I played baseball in high school, but my slip and fall injury has decreased my mobility even more.
  • I’ve always had headaches, but the traumatic brain injury from my biking accident has made them far more severe and frequent.

If you’re hesitant to file a lawsuit because of concerns over a pre-existing condition, you’re in good company. Many people who experience injury accidents have some kind of pre-accident health issue and may feel nervous about how this will affect their accident injury case.

The opposing party will undoubtedly look to hold that against you, but you have legal protection under what is known as the Eggshell Doctrine or Eggshell Skull Rule. The idea behind this is that if you receive a head injury because your skull is as thin as an eggshell, the negligent party is still responsible for your injuries. The fact that you are more prone to certain injuries because of your pre-existing condition does not let the person who injured you off the hook.

A skilled accident attorney will know how to anticipate the tactics of Big Insurance and show how the accident hurts your health over and above the pre-existing condition. In addition to your attorney’s efforts, there are some things you should do to help your case.

1. Remember that honesty is the best policy. Don’t try to minimize or hide your pre-existing conditions from your personal injury attorney. Rather, share the full extent of them so that your attorney knows what they are up against in building a watertight case for you. If you don’t share them and the defense finds out about them, they could paint you as dishonest and discredit your claim.

2. Work closely with your doctor. The best policy is to see a doctor immediately after your injuries. A lot of people try to play tough and deal with their injuries on their own, but a skilled physician can often catch injuries even before you start feeling them and keep them from getting worse.

Just as we recommended with your attorney, make sure you tell your doctor about any pre-existing conditions (if they don’t know about them already). Your physician can become a key player in proving where your pre-existing injuries end and the new ones start.

If your doctor recommends a treatment plan, make sure to comply with everything they advise. If they tell you to avoid certain activities, follow their guidance. You want to show that you’re doing your very best to get better.

3. Write it down. The more evidence you can give to your attorney, the stronger your case will be. Keep a journal that details the scope and effects of your injuries. Write down your symptoms, when you began experiencing discomfort, how often your injuries are affecting you, the number of days your injuries have kept you out of work, and any other activities that you can’t do because of your accident.

You should also keep a log of your medical charges for visits to specialists, prescription medications, rehab appointments, etc.

4. Be patient. Cases involving pre-existing conditions can take longer to resolve because of their complexity. The opposing party’s insurance may try to discredit you so that they can pay out less in damages. Be patient with the process and know that this is not unusual for cases of this type. The defendant did not cause your pre-existing condition, but they are responsible for the health problems that their negligence did cause. Stay committed to your case. You have a right to compensation for what you have suffered.

5. Get help from an experienced attorney. Hiring a personal injury attorney for your Utah case is always a good idea, but when there are pre-existing conditions involved, it’s even more important. Big Insurance will attempt to limit your reward. They can be intimidating and ruthless, but an experienced attorney can see through all of their strategies and stand up for you. They know all the laws pertaining to accident injury cases and can leverage them in your favor so that you don’t get shortchanged.

In addition to getting you maximum financial compensation, they can shoulder many of the emotional burdens and stresses associated with your case so that you can focus on rebuilding your life in the wake of your injury accident.

Pre-existing conditions are not a dealbreaker. In our 28 years as attorneys, we have helped countless injury victims win their cases, and many of them have had pre-existing conditions. Call us for a free consultation, and we will give you an honest assessment of the viability of your case.