So, imagine that you're in an accident. You're in a lot of pain from an injury you got in that accident, but when you’re at your doctor’s office, you find something out: you have a pre-existing condition.
If you're asking yourself, What is a “pre-existing condition?” you’re not alone. It's jargon that is thrown around a lot, but not always laid out.
A pre-existing condition is when you have had a medical condition, whether you knew it or not, BEFORE you experienced a new medical situation.
Once you get the news about the pre-existing condition, you might be shocked at first, never having seen any sign or felt any symptoms that you might have something. Then, you might be wondering whether you will be able to file a personal injury claim. The situation may not be completely straightforward, but with the help of your personal injury attorney, you might still be able to get a payout.
Before I dive into damages and other important personal injury claim information, let’s look at the kinds of pre-existing conditions that could affect your claim. It isn’t as if you discover that you have just any condition and it would apply. The kinds of pre-existing conditions that you might not even know you have include things like:
There are more conditions of course, but these are a few that show up when you are least expecting it. You might not even have an inkling that you have anything, since in the early days of these conditions, they might not cause any kind of pain or discomfort.
There was a court case back in 1977 that helped produce the guidelines for what we do today for personal injury claims with pre-existing conditions. There was a case called Ng v. Hudson where they decided that the plaintiff (the person taking legal action) deserves compensation if the condition has been worsened because of the behaviour of the defending party. You don’t need to suffer because of the actions of someone else, no matter what condition you were in before the accident took place.
Well, I’m sorry to say that when you find out that you have a pre-existing condition, it will make things a little more complicated. You can’t collect money on a condition that you already had before an accident, even if you didn’t know about it. That doesn’t mean that all hope is lost, however.
You can’t be paid for a claim that isn’t related to the accident, but you can file a claim about any losses that you have had because of the accident. So, even if you happen to be more prone to injury because of a pre-existing condition, if the accident has caused you any pain, suffering, injury, or otherwise, you can still file a claim.
The tricky part might come when you need to show how you have been harmed from an accident and how it has impacted your pre-existing condition, especially if it wasn’t known. If you had osteoporosis and didn’t know about it, but found your bones are more likely to fracture from an accident, you can say that what was previously asymptomatic has become symptomatic because of the accident.
Maybe you were slightly symptomatic or completely asymptomatic with your pre-existing condition before having an accident, but it might be made much worse as a result of your accident. Maybe people with osteoarthritis or degenerative disc disease are more prone to getting injured from an accident, but that doesn’t make them any less worthy of receiving the right kind of compensation.
You are entitled to any kind of compensation you are owed from any injury or condition that is made worse from an accident. It would be completely unjust to be injured and then just brushed off, saying that you were already hurt through a previous condition. It doesn’t matter if you were more susceptible to injury; the point is that you were injured and deserve the chance to be appropriately compensated for your suffering.
Of course, the jury or judge will decide what kind of payout is most appropriate to compensate you for your injuries. But not filing because you assume that you won’t get anything based on an unknown pre-existing condition is not the smartest thing to do. There’s a rule out there that can help you, too. It’s called the “eggshell plaintiff rule.” This rule means that regardless of whoever the defendant is concerning your personal injury claim, they have to take you as you are. That includes any pre-existing condition.
With a great personal injury attorney to back you up, you can file a personal injury claim. You probably will have to give your medical history and medical records, but only give this information to your personal injury attorney directly. If the insurance company is trying to get all of your information from you, contact your personal injury attorney first. Your insurance company is not there to be your friend but is there to try to save themselves the most money possible.
In court, a medical expert might be called or medical evidence might be produced to demonstrate any harm or suffering that you might have experienced as a result of the accident. They will probably show that you didn’t know about your pre-existing condition or that you weren’t receiving any treatment for it before the accident took place. It is not easy to hear sometimes, but with an experienced personal injury attorney, this can be handled with the most delicacy possible, all with the intention of benefitting you.
Regardless, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury attorney if you have been injured. It is, at the very least, worth a conversation or consultation. You should know where you stand. If you are hurt in an accident, you deserve compensation. You don’t need to suffer, even from an unknown pre-existing condition, just because of the actions of someone else.
9 months ago