Oct 14, 2021

Whether it was an auto accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian hit by a car, or a slip and fall accident – many injuries are devastating and life changing. From health complications and unexpected medical bills to ensuring justice and stopping repeated negligence, personal injury claims often serve a greater purpose beyond financial compensation.

You need compensation to help pay your medical bills, but you also deserve justice. Regardless of if you’re the victim of an avoidable situation or if you’re seeking justice and a settlement from the at-fault party, any pre-existing injuries could affect your amount of compensation.

Depending on your pre-existing conditions, the situation, and the elements of the claim, your financial restitution could be on the line. Don’t worry – there are doctrines in place, such as the Eggshell Rule, and experienced personal injury lawyers that can help you get the justice and proper compensation you deserve.

What is a Pre-Existing Injury?

When referring to a personal injury case, a pre-existing injury is defined as a medical or health condition you had before the accident at-hand occurred. For example, if you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, or if you have been recovering from another recent injury, then you would be classified as having a pre-existing injury.

A few common pre-existing injuries include: 

  • Degenerative disc disease

  • Back-related injuries

  • Neck-related injuries

  • Diabetes

  • Hypertension

  • Sprains and Strains

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Arthritis

In personal injury cases, insurance companies will label all possible options as pre-existing in an attempt not to have to pay for any expenses related to the current situation.

What is the Eggshell Skull Rule?

The Eggshell Skull Rule is a legal action used in many personal injury cases where victims have pre-existing conditions. It states that the weakness, frailty, or sensitivity of a victim cannot be used against them in a personal injury claim. Under this concept, the at-fault party is still liable for the victim’s new injuries because the victim’s pre-existing condition made them more susceptible to the injuries they are dealing with.

Without the Eggshell Skull Rule, many insurance companies will argue against the case stating that the victim’s condition was there before the accident at-hand occurred. This rule also protects victims from the speculation of insurance companies – who will often try to turn the tables and argue what might have happened if the victim did not have the pre-existing condition. 

How a Pre-Existing Injury May Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

Most Americans regularly take prescription medication and 129 million Americans are said to have some type of pre-existing injury or health condition. Therefore, it’s fairly common for insurance companies to argue that accident victims have a pre-existing condition.

Your personal injury claim could be affected positively or negatively depending on how your pre-existing condition relates to new injuries. When the Eggshell Skull Rule is applied, the value could actually increase because your pre-existing condition is not held against you.

However, there are many instances when pre-existing conditions make your personal injury claims less valuable due to suspicious treatment plans. For example, if you’re already on pain medication for fibromyalgia and see a chiropractor on a regular basis; and you’re a victim of a car crash and continue the same regimen for pain, the insurance company will argue that the symptoms are no worse than before the accident.

Both special damages and general damages are lowered when an insurance company does not accept all of your treatment from an accident as reasonable. Pre-existing injuries can affect your personal injury claim either positively or negatively. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced lawyer early in the process to ensure you follow the right protocol and are treated fairly during settlement negotiations.

How do Insurance Companies Handle Pre-Existing Injuries?

Insurance companies do NOT have the victim’s best interest in mind. They are not on your side, and they will use all pre-existing injuries and conditions to avoid paying compensation.

Don’t be surprised when insurance companies dig through your medical records for any evidence that suggests the accident had minimal effect on your current health condition. The insurance adjusters’ job is to find as much damaging information as possible so that they will have to pay out as least as possible.

Pre-Existing Injuries and Workmen's Comp

Having a pre-existing injury or condition does not disqualify you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits if you are hurt while on the job. Additionally, if you have a pre-existing condition that is worsened because of job activities, you are also entitled to benefits.

However, insurance companies routinely deny workers’ compensation to victims with pre-existing conditions. Doing so reduces the benefits victims would receive and also reduces payout for the company.

There are often 3 scenarios in which pre-existing conditions affect workers’ compensation:

Pre-existing injuries related to prior the claim – This means if the victim has previously injured the same body part in another workplace accident, then the workers’ compensation benefits may be slightly reduced, but the employer is still held accountable for medical bills for treatment and possible temporary disability benefits.

Pre-existing injury NOT related to the claim – This means if unrelated conditions or injuries of the victim have been worsened due to the work environment, then the employer may be liable for all medical bills and treatment.

Pre-existing unrelated condition – This is when the victim has a pre-existing condition that is not related to the claim in any way. This should not affect the workers’ compensation benefits; however, it may require that the victim seek medical treatment from multiple healthcare providers.

Do You Have a Claim if You Have a Pre-Existing Injury?

There is no personal injury claim for a victim who wants to recover financial restitution for any pre-existing injuries or conditions that are not related to the current accident.

Since health conditions were present before the accident occurred, the at-fault party, nor their insurance company, is liable for costs. However, they are liable for damages and losses related specifically to that accident, such as:

  1. Medical bills

  2. Ongoing healthcare costs

  3. Pain and suffering

  4. Lost wages

  5. Loss of future earning capacity

If you’re a victim with pre-existing conditions that were worsened due to an accident, then you do have a personal injury claim. This is where the Eggshell Rule comes into effect and makes it possible for victims to recover compensation.

For insurance companies not to argue the case, the victim’s pre-existing injury or condition must have been in stable condition before the accident, and it must be proven that the condition would have not worsened if the accident would have not occurred.

How to Protect Your Personal Injury Claim

If you have a pre-existing condition and are involved in an accident, it’s vital to seek medical help immediately after the accident. Even if you think nothing is wrong at the given time. A medical professional will be able to evaluate your condition and compare it to your pre-existing injury or health condition and tell if there is new or worsening damage.

Detailed medical records are the best supporting evidence to have in a personal injury claim but are imperative if you have pre-existing conditions. These records will show detailed notes from all health care professionals regarding the impact the accident had on your injury or condition.

When pursuing a personal injury claim with a pre-existing condition, it’s crucial to be completely honest with your attorney. Failing to mention or disclose information regarding your health can result in a denied claim.

Get Help from an Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer

Working with an experienced Colorado personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident is the best place to start when filing a personal injury claim. Doing this ensures you know how to proceed so that you have the strongest case possible when seeking compensation and justice.

Insurance companies are known to intimidate and pressure victims into unfair deals. Working with an experienced lawyer helps avoid these mistakes while alleviating stress and ensuring you get the medical attention you need.

Pre-existing injuries and conditions present problematic situations for personal injury claims. Our team at Anderson Hemmat has been representing victims of personal injury claims for over 25 years and we understand how difficult it is after an accident with injuries.

While some Colorado injury accident law firms are content to settle quickly, our law firm is willing to do whatever it takes to pursue maximum financial compensation for your injuries. We are committed to legal excellence and will fight for maximum compensation when handling your injury claim.

Put our Colorado civil litigation experience to work for you today! We offer FREE Case Evaluations and our fees are contingency based, so you pay nothing up front and a percentage only if we win.

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