Accidents can happen when we least expect them, often resulting in personal injuries that require medical attention and legal action. However, what happens when a pre-existing condition is involved? Pre-existing conditions are medical conditions that a person had before the accident or incident occurred. These conditions can significantly impact personal injury claims, adding complexity to the legal process. In this article, we’ll delve into the impact of pre-existing conditions on personal injury claims and how they are considered in legal proceedings.
Understanding Pre-existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions encompass a wide range of medical issues that individuals may have been diagnosed with prior to the accident or incident that led to their personal injury claim. These conditions can vary in severity, from chronic illnesses to past injuries that have already been treated. Common examples include arthritis, back problems, diabetes, and previous fractures.
Impact on Causation and Liability
One of the primary ways pre-existing conditions impact personal injury claims is by raising questions about causation and liability. Defendants in personal injury cases may argue that the injuries sustained were not solely a result of the accident but were, at least in part, due to the pre-existing condition. This can lead to disputes over whether the accident aggravated or exacerbated the pre-existing condition, causing the current injuries.
In cases where a pre-existing condition exists, the legal process becomes more intricate. It often requires expert medical testimony to establish a clear link between the accident and the injuries sustained. Medical professionals may need to analyze medical records, perform examinations, and provide their professional opinion on the relationship between the pre-existing condition and the injuries claimed.
“Eggshell Skull” Doctrine
The legal principle known as the “eggshell skull” doctrine comes into play when dealing with personal injury claims involving pre-existing conditions. This doctrine states that a defendant must take the injured person as they find them, even if the person’s physical condition is more fragile or susceptible to injury due to a pre-existing condition. In other words, the defendant is held responsible for the full extent of the injuries, regardless of the claimant’s pre-existing condition.
For example, if an individual with a pre-existing back condition is involved in a car accident and sustains further injuries to their back, the defendant cannot use the pre-existing condition as an excuse to evade liability. They must compensate the claimant for the injuries caused by the accident, even if the impact on someone without the pre-existing condition might have been less severe.
When a pre-existing condition is involved in a personal injury claim, determining the appropriate amount of compensation becomes more intricate. The claimant is entitled to compensation for the additional harm caused by the accident, which can include the aggravation of the pre-existing condition, as well as any new injuries directly caused by the accident.
In such cases, it’s important to establish the baseline health of the claimant before the accident, including the severity of the pre-existing condition. Medical experts may be called upon to provide insights into the claimant’s condition before and after the accident, helping to quantify the impact of the incident on their health
Documentation and Expert Testimony
To navigate the complexities of personal injury claims involving pre-existing conditions, thorough documentation, and expert testimony are essential. Claimants should provide comprehensive medical records that outline the history and treatment of the pre-existing condition. Additionally, expert medical witnesses can play a critical role in connecting the dots between the pre-existing condition, the accident, and the resulting injuries.
Pre-existing conditions can undoubtedly complicate personal injury claims, but they do not preclude claimants from seeking compensation for injuries sustained due to another party’s negligence or wrongdoing. Legal proceedings in such cases often require medical expertise, careful documentation, and strategic legal arguments to establish causation and liability. If you find yourself in a situation where a pre-existing condition is relevant to your personal injury claim, it’s crucial to work with an experienced personal injury attorney from the Law Offices of Tim D. Wright who can guide you through the intricate legal landscape and help you seek the compensation you rightfully deserve.