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Will a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

If you’ve been in a car accident, slip and fall, or another accident, you may have sustained severe injuries. If you were involved in a previous accident in which the same body part was injured, you might be wondering whether your prior injury could affect your right to compensation in your current case. In some cases, an accident might even make a pre-existing condition worse.  

A pre-existing condition doesn’t bar you from receiving the compensation you deserve for damages you suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. However, it could make your case more complex, which is why it’s critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.

The Eggshell Skull Rule  

The eggshell skull rule is a legal principle that essentially means the negligent party must take their victim as they find them. This doctrine applies in personal injury cases to plaintiffs with pre-existing conditions and entitles them to recover compensation due to another’s negligence — even if they had a prior injury or pre-existing condition. Despite a pre-existing condition or injury, a wrong-doer will not be held any less responsible for the amount of injury they caused to the plaintiff. 

Do Pre-Existing Conditions Need to Be Disclosed?

Medical documentation is critical evidence in any personal injury case. You must disclose relevant medical records as well as any pre-existing condition or prior injury pertinent to your lawsuit. For example, suppose you injured your knee in a motorcycle accident ten years ago and reinjured it in the car accident at issue. The medical records related to the motorcycle accident may be relevant to your current case since you are alleging injury to the same body part.  

Several factors can impact the significance of a pre-existing injury on your current case, including:

  • The extent of the previous injury
  • Whether the accident at issue exacerbated the previous injury
  • How long ago the prior injury occurred
  • Whether the prior injury resolved

You should tell your attorney about any prior conditions or injuries during the intake process — if you don’t, they will surface sooner or later. Your attorney can develop an effective strategy from the beginning of your case, the more you tell them about any pre-existing conditions. Prior injuries should also be disclosed outright to avoid adversely affecting your credibility in the case.

In addition to informing your attorney about the prior injuries, you must discuss them with any doctor who is treating you for your accident-related injuries so that they can recommend a proper course of treatment for you.

What are Some Common Pre-Existing Conditions?

Many people have what might qualify as a pre-existing condition. Even if you were never in an accident, the body suffers wear and tear with age, causing natural deterioration. Some common types of pre-existing conditions can include disc degeneration in the spine due to aging, and back conditions related to work or heavy-lifting.

The defendant’s insurance company may try to argue that their insured didn’t cause your injuries — and that they were pre-existing. An experienced attorney will know how to rebut this argument and effectively put together your case to ensure that the negligent party is held responsible for the damages they caused you. 

Contact a New York Personal Injury Attorney

If you suffered injuries in a New York car accident or any other type of accident, it is critical that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Even if you have a pre-existing condition or injury, you still may be entitled to compensation if you suffered injuries due to another’s negligence. A personal injury attorney can help ensure the negligent party is held accountable for their actions and protect your legal rights.

 The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. can help obtain you the maximum compensation you deserve for your car accident injuries. The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. has convenient office locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, as well as mobile locations serving Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester, Rockland County, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. Contact us today for a free consultation.  

John P. Dearie

John P. Dearie is a graduate of Regis High School, The University of Notre Dame, and St. John’s University School of Law. After working at a corporate law firm in New York City for two years following law school graduation, he joined The Dearie Law Firm in 2011.

John represents injured New Yorkers in third-party negligence litigations, as well as first responders, workers, volunteers and residents in claims to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.