Skip to Main Content

The Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions on Personal Injury Cases

A pre-existing condition refers to a health issue or specific medical condition that already existed before the accident or incident that led to a personal injury claim. These conditions can range from chronic illnesses to other types of previous injuries. Recognizing the significance of pre-existing conditions is crucial because they can have a significant impact on the outcome of a personal injury case. 

It is essential for both the injured individual and their legal representation to carefully assess a person’s pre-existing conditions to ensure a fair and accurate evaluation of the damages in their current incident.

Keep reading this guide for everything you need to know about the impact of pre-existing conditions on personal injury cases.

Understanding Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-Existing Conditions Definition and Examples

A pre-existing condition refers to a health issue or medical condition that a person has before the occurrence of an accident or injury. These conditions can vary and may include chronic illnesses, previous injuries, genetic disorders, or other underlying health conditions. They are not directly caused by the accident or injury being claimed for. They are conditions that already existed and were documented in the individual’s medical history before the incident.

Pre-existing conditions can exist due to various factors such as genetics, lifestyle choices, previous accidents or injuries, or long-term health conditions. For example, someone may have had a pre-existing back injury from a sports-related incident or a chronic condition like asthma or diabetes.

Disclosure and Medical History

When involved in legal proceedings related to a personal injury claim, it is vital to disclose any pre-existing conditions. Transparency is important because it allows all parties involved to have a clear understanding of the individual’s health status prior to the incident. 

By providing an accurate medical history, the injured person ensures that their case is based on truth and avoids any potential misunderstandings or complications. Disclosing pre-existing conditions also allows medical professionals and legal experts to differentiate between damages directly related to the accident or injury and those that were pre-existing, which makes it easier to determine compensation.

By not disclosing pre-existing conditions, the injured person could face severe consequences in their case. This includes credibility issues and could damage the individual’s reputation and overall jeopardize their chances of receiving fair compensation. Withholding information or providing inaccurate medical history can even cause the injured to face legal repercussions as it may be considered an attempt at manipulating the legal process.

Pre-Existing Conditions Impact on Personal Injury Cases

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence means that if you are partially at fault for your own injuries, you may not be able to receive full compensation for your damages. This defense strategy is used by the defendant to argue that your own actions or pre-existing conditions contributed to your injuries, and they should not be held fully responsible for them. 

They may also claim that your pre-existing condition or something you did before the incident made your injuries worse or that they would have happened anyway. Since each case is different, it is ultimately up to the court to determine if contributory negligence applies and how much it would affect the compensation you may receive.

Burden of Proof

Plaintiffs in personal injury cases involving pre-existing conditions face certain challenges when it comes to proving causation and damages. One of the main complications is establishing a link between the defendant’s actions or negligence and the worsening of the pre-existing condition.

To prove causation and damages, the plaintiff is responsible for the burden of proof. They must provide valid evidence and demonstrate a strong connection between the defendant’s actions and the harm suffered. This may require gathering medical records, expert opinions, and testimonies that establish the relationship between the incident and the pre-existing condition.

The plaintiff must also differentiate between the damages directly caused by the defendant’s actions and those resulting from the pre-existing condition. The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s actions worsened the condition beyond its original state.

Independent Medical Examination

Purpose and Process

An independent medical examination (IME) is performed in personal injury cases to provide an evaluation of the injured person’s condition. It involves an examination by a medical professional who is not involved in the injured person’s treatment. 

The purpose of an IME is to:

  •  Evaluate the type and cause of the injuries,
  • Determine the impact of any pre-existing conditions on the current injury. 
  • Provide an unbiased evaluation of the injuries to help determine liability

Overall, the IME evaluation is essential in determining appropriate compensation and ensuring that the injured person receives fair treatment throughout their legal process.

Role in Assessing Damages

The IME report provides an expert evaluation that assesses the damages specifically caused by the accident versus the pre-existing condition. This helps determine the fair compensation the injured person should receive for the injuries caused by the accident.

In court, the IME report carries significant weight as it comes from a neutral, unbiased medical professional. The report is considered strong evidence that helps the injured party’s case. Judges and juries rely on the IME report to make a fair decision for the injured party and determine how much compensation they should receive.

Settlement Negotiations

Evaluating the Impact of Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions can have a direct impact on settlement negotiations in personal injury cases. Both the injured party and the defendant’s insurance company consider the existence of pre-existing conditions when determining a settlement amount.

For the injured party, pre-existing conditions can affect the negotiation process because they may complicate the assessment of damages. The defendant or their insurance company may argue that the pre-existing condition caused the injuries or that they are not entitled to fair compensation. The injured party’s legal representation must present evidence and arguments to demonstrate the impact of the accident on the pre-existing condition and the resulting damages.

In settlement negotiations, both parties aim to reach a fair outcome. The injured party’s legal team presents evidence to establish how the accident worsened the pre-existing condition. This may involve medical records, doctor’s opinions, and other relevant documentation. The defendant must then evaluate the strength of these arguments.

Ultimately, the negotiation process involves careful consideration of the pre-existing condition’s role in the injuries and the resulting damages.

Legal Strategy and Negotiation Tactics for Pre-Existing Conditions

When negotiating settlements involving pre-existing conditions, plaintiffs and their attorneys should take proper measures.

This includes:

  • Obtaining medical records
  • Documenting changes in pre-existing condition
  • Assessing the damages caused by the accident
  • Being prepared for defense strategies

Step One

First, all relevant medical records, including those related to the pre-existing condition and any treatment received after the accident, should be obtained. This helps establish a clear timeline of the condition and its progression. It’s also a good idea to seek opinions from medical experts who specialize in the field. These experts can provide professional insights on the impact of the accident and how it relates to the pre-existing condition.

Step Two

Next, it’s important to document changes or worsening of the pre-existing condition after the accident. This includes recording symptoms, pain levels, and impaired mobility that may have worsened due to the incident. You should also demonstrate clear evidence of how the accident worsened the pre-existing condition. Linking the specific injuries or damages to the incident strengthens the argument for fair compensation.

Step Three

Moreover, it’s important to assess the damages directly caused by the accident. This thorough evaluation helps determine a fair settlement amount. Additionally, seeking the guidance of experienced attorneys who specialize in personal injury cases involving pre-existing conditions is essential. These legal professionals can provide valuable advice, navigate the difficulties of the legal process, and present a strong case during negotiations.

Step Four

Lastly, being prepared for the strategies used by the defense is crucial. The defendant’s side will attempt to downplay your pre-existing condition to minimize their liability. That’s why strong evidence, expert opinions, and well-documented records will go a long way in helping you make the most out of your case. 

By following these steps, plaintiffs and attorneys can work towards a fair and honest outcome confidently and be prepared for any complexities that may arise during the process.

Work With a Personal Injury Attorney at Naqvi Law Today

Pre-existing conditions can have a significant impact on personal injury cases. Individuals involved in these cases must seek legal advice and be as transparent as possible about their medical history. 

Understanding how pre-existing conditions may affect the outcome of a personal injury case is vital for both plaintiffs and defendants. Plaintiffs need to gather evidence and expert opinions to establish the connection between the accident and the worsening of the pre-existing condition. Defendants, on the other hand, may use pre-existing conditions as a defense, arguing that the injuries were not solely caused by the accident.

When dealing with complex legal cases like this, it’s important to consult experienced attorneys who can provide guidance and help you with your unique case.

If you’re looking for experts to take on your personal injury case, Naqvi Law is here for you. Start by receiving a free consultation, or give us a call at (702) 919-6818.