Can I Be Compensated For Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

Even though you might have pre-existing conditions, you may still be entitled to compensation for injuries after a car accident. Our Vista car accident lawyers fight insurance companies that try to avoid paying personal injury claims or minimize damages for a car crash. We fight for fair compensation for injuries and damages. 

What Does the Insurance Company Mean When They Deny a Claim for Pre-Existing Conditions?

A pre-existing condition is a physical injury or medical condition that you had before the traffic accident. Examples of pre-existing conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Prior concussions or traumatic brain injury
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Eye injuries
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Prior injury to internal organs
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma 
  • Stroke and heart attack
  • Bulging or herniated disc
  • Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hernias
  • Knee injuries 

According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, millions of Americans have pre-existing conditions for insurance purposes. Therefore, it is likely that someone will have a pre-existing condition at the time they were involved in a car accident. 

How Do Insurance Companies Use Pre-Existing Conditions?

Insurance companies use pre-existing conditions to deny and undervalue insurance claims. The insurance company might use your pre-existing condition in one of two ways. 

First, the insurance company alleges that the injuries you claim were caused by the car accident actually existed before the collision. In other words, the at-fault driver did not cause your injuries. Therefore, you are not entitled to compensation for damages. 

For example, the claims adjuster might say that your chronic headaches are the result of a past traumatic brain injury, especially if there is any medical evidence that shows you complained about headaches in the past. Although, the company may deny the claim based solely on the fact that you had a prior head injury. 

Second, the insurance company claims your accident injuries would not have occurred had it not been for a pre-existing condition. For example, a prior car crash caused a back injury. Therefore, you only suffer from a spinal fracture because the prior back injury weakened your spine.

What Should I Do if I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?

Do not hide the condition or lie about a past accident or medical condition. Instead, talk with one of our car accident attorneys immediately. 

If you do not disclose the pre-existing injury, it can hurt your credibility. However, it is best to allow an experienced injury lawyer handle the disclosure of the pre-existing condition. Your lawyer can work with your doctors and medical experts to obtain evidence to refute the insurance company’s allegations that a pre-existing condition is the underlying cause of your current injury.

What Is the Eggshell Skull Rule?

The eggshell skull rule or eggshell rule is a legal doctrine that holds an at-fault party liable for damages caused by their conduct. That applies even if the injured party had a pre-existing condition that resulted in the person being more susceptible to a particular injury.

In other words, damages are based on the injured victim’s “as is” condition instead of a person in perfect health. Therefore, if a negligent or intentional act causes a personal injury, that person should be compensated for that injury, regardless of their health status at the time of the injury.

The eggshell rule generally applies to car accident claims when the car accident aggravated a pre-existing condition. California’s civil jury instructions address this situation. 

Section 3927 provides the following instructions for jurors:

  • The plaintiff is not entitled to damages for a condition they had before the accident occurred. However, you must award damages that reasonably and fairly compensate the plaintiff for a physical or emotional condition made worse by the defendant’s actions.

Therefore, suppose the car accident aggravated a pre-existing condition. The defendant is only liable for any damages related to the worsening of the condition. 

For example, suppose you sustained a brain injury in a car crash. A prior brain injury resulted in seizures. However, you have experienced memory problems and blackouts since the car wreck.

The defendant would not be liable for any costs or losses related to the seizures. However, you could recover compensation related to memory problems and blackouts.

Determining whether an accident caused a pre-existing condition to worsen can be challenging. You must have medical records showing how the condition has worsened. In many cases, medical specialists are needed to provide expert testimony explaining how the car accident caused your pre-existing to worsen. 

What Damages Can I Receive for an Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions After a Vista Car Accident?

You cannot claim damages for the pre-existing condition. However, you can seek compensation for damages related to the aggravation of a pre-existing condition. You may also receive compensation for a new injury you might have been predisposed to because of the pre-existing condition. 

Our legal team works with you and your doctors to determine the severity and extent of your injuries and damages. We work to recover reimbursement for all economic damages including:

  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Past and future costs of medical treatment, nursing care, and personal care
  • Future loss of income and diminished earning potential
  • Out-of-pocket expenses and costs 
  • Home and vehicle modifications for a permanent disability
  • Physical, emotional, and occupational therapies 
  • Vocational rehabilitation 

We also fight to maximize the compensation for your pain and suffering. Non-economic damages for a car accident involving a pre-existing condition could include:

  • Scarring
  • Permanent impairment
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Disfigurement and amputations
  • Mental anguish and trauma
  • Decrease in quality of life
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical pain and discomfort

Our lawyers also evaluate your case for punitive damages. These damages do not compensate you for losses, even though you receive the money. Instead, punitive damages “punish” the defendant for conduct that amounts to malice, fraud, or oppression. 

Our goal is to maximize your recovery for a personal injury claim. We understand that the losses sustained because of a car accident can result in a financial crisis for your family. Therefore, our legal team works diligently to resolve your case as soon as possible without sacrificing the value of the case for a quick settlement. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Vista Car Accident Lawyers

Sustaining a personal injury can significantly impact your life. Our car accident attorneys in Vista fight to get you the compensation you deserve after an auto accident. Contact Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney or give a call at (619) 344-0360