If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, navigating the path forward toward just compensation can be very difficult. If you have a preexisting medical condition, however, it can be even more so. The fact is that preexisting conditions affect injury claims. Your personal injury claim will address the injuries you sustain as a result of the other party’s negligence and the losses you experience as a result. It can be exceptionally difficult, however, to separate those losses that are directly related to the injury-causing accident and those that are not (if you have a preexisting condition). Further, the insurance company will much prefer to attribute your losses to your preexisting condition – in an effort to keep its profits high. Protect your rights and your rightful compensation by consulting with an experienced Austin personal injury attorney early in the process.
What’s In This Guide
- Preexisting Conditions
- The Eggshell Skull Rule
- Don’t Hide Preexisting Conditions
- Dealing with the Insurance Company
- The Losses You Seek
A preexisting condition – for the sake of personal injury claims – is any health concern or medical condition that you received medical attention, advice, care, or treatment for prior to the time of the accident in question. Preexisting conditions can include any of the following that you have already been diagnosed with (with reasonable medical certainty):
- Any illness, disease, or ailment
- Any injuries
- Any mental health conditions
- Any nervous disorders
The kinds of preexisting conditions that tend to complicate personal injury claims include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Degenerative disk disease
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Diseases, such as asthma and diabetes
The fact is that a preexisting condition can leave you more vulnerable to being seriously injured in an accident, and you may require more considerable treatment – and therefore compensation – as a result.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
The eggshell skull rule is a legal doctrine that is applied in the State of Texas, which holds defendants liable for the actual injuries they cause. In other words, a negligent driver (for example) cannot expect to be held responsible only for the damages that a healthy accident victim will suffer. Instead, defendants are required to take victims as they are, including when they have preexisting conditions that leave them more susceptible to serious injuries – and attendant losses (or legal damages). For example, someone with a preexisting spinal cord condition can suffer far more serious injuries in a slip and fall accident than others might, but the at-fault property owner or manager will be held accountable for the serious nature of the victim’s injuries.
Don’t Hide Preexisting Conditions
Many people who’ve been injured by the negligence of others are afraid that a preexisting condition will harm their ability to recover on their losses fully. With a seasoned personal injury attorney in your corner, however, there is no such risk. In fact, attempting to hide or minimize your preexisting condition can actually harm your claim in the following ways:
- Without open communication and thorough and accurate information, your attorney can’t build your strongest claim.
- The at-fault party’s insurance provider is going to do digging of its own and is almost certain to discover your preexisting condition, which will, in turn, reflect badly on the veracity of your claim.
- Any expert witnesses who are hired to bolster your claim won’t speak with authority about your complete losses if they don’t have thorough and accurate information about any preexisting conditions.
- The insurer, judge, and jury involved (if your case goes to trial) may consider you an unreliable source of information.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Preexisting conditions affect injury claims. If you have a preexisting condition, you need professional legal counsel on your side. Leaving the insurance company to your personal injury attorney, in fact, is the best course of action. The insurance company handling your claim will be reaching out to you to learn more about the accident that left you injured and the injuries you sustained, but the truth is that you are not required to make a statement. Further, you are better off declining the offer and leaving the task to your attorney. The insurance company is motivated by profits – not by compensating you fairly – and it is looking for any excuse to settle your claim for less. If you have a preexisting condition, the matter is that much more complicated, and turning to a dedicated personal injury attorney early in the process is well advised.
The Losses You Seek
If someone else causes you to be injured as a result of their negligence, you will seek compensation for your losses through your personal injury claim. These losses fall into three primary categories.
Your medical costs are likely to begin with emergency care and to extend onward to surgery, pain management, rehabilitation, prescription meds, and beyond. The more serious your injuries, the more likely you are to have ongoing medical concerns.
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While you are recovering from the injuries you’ve sustained, lost earnings are a common consequence, and if your earning potential is affected, the financial hit can be profound.
Pain and Suffering
In addition to your financial losses, the law addresses the pain and suffering you’ve been forced to endure as a result of the other party’s negligence.
Clearly identifying your injuries as separate from any preexisting conditions is paramount, but if such conditions have been exacerbated by the other party’s negligence, that fact will need to be addressed. A savvy personal injury attorney will skillfully advocate for the compensation to which you are entitled.
Reach Out to an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney Today
Preexisting conditions complicate personal injury claims, but the formidable Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm have an impressive track record of helping clients like you resolve their challenging claims favorably. Your claim and your just compensation are important, so please don’t put off contacting or calling us at 361-400-2036 for more information today.