Can a Pre-Existing Condition Impact a Car Accident Claim?

When you are involved in a car accident, the last thing you want to deal with is an insurance company that looks for ways to pay you as little as possible for your claim.

If you have a pre-existing condition, the insurance company may use this against you, claiming that your injury was not caused by the car accident, or that the accident was only minimally responsible. A skilled car accident lawyer can help secure the financial compensation you deserve, despite any pre-existing condition you might have.

Examples of Common Pre-Existing Conditions

The impact of a car accident can cause an existing injury to flare up, or to become much worse. The following are examples of pre-existing conditions that can be aggravated by a car accident:

-- Herniated disc or degenerative disc disease
-- Lower back strains
-- Broken bones that have healed
-- Hernias
-- Fibromyalgia
-- Arthritis
-- Knee and shoulder injuries
-- Brain injuries, including concussions

Pre-Existing Conditions and Your Right to Compensation

An insurance company cannot deny your claim based solely on the fact that you have a pre-existing condition. According to the legal concept known as the Eggshell Doctrine, in cases involving aggravated pre-existing conditions, the victims should receive compensation for the injuries if the following are true:

-- The victim’s pre-existing condition was stable

-- Prior to the accident, there was no reason to think that the victim’s condition would change or become worse.

In most cases, the Eggshell Doctrine is used if the victim has a pre-existing injury or medical condition that causes that person to be more susceptible to injuries than others. For example, if a healthy person were involved in a minor accident, he or she is much less likely to become injured than someone who has a pre-existing injury or health condition. The Eggshell Doctrine states that an insurer cannot use your pre-existing condition as a reason to withhold financial compensation, or offer a lower settlement amount.

In order to secure the compensation you deserve, you must prove that your injuries were caused by, or aggravated by, the car accident. You will need to present detailed medical records that provide the necessary information about your pre-existing injury or condition. Past medical records must be provided to the insurance company, in order to show the nature of your injury prior to the car accident.

You will also need to provide the most recent medical records following the accident. The physician notes will indicate whether your injuries were caused by the accident and not your underlying condition.

Finally, if you are seeking help from a car accident lawyer, inform him or her about your pre-existing condition. The more your lawyer knows about the details of your injury, or medical condition, the better he or she will be able to defend your claim and seek the compensation you deserve.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bryan J. Chant, Esq.
Bryan J. Chant is an experienced trial attorney vindicating the rights of injured people in Maryland’s courts. He is an alumnus of the William Mitchell College of Law, where he served as an Assistant Editor on the William Mitchell Law Review. His practice areas include personal injury and Workers’ Compensation.

Copyright LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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