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If you suffer an injury that was caused by the negligence of another person, you have the right to bring a personal injury case to receive compensation for your injuries. However, if you had a pre-existing condition, this could complicate your case. This is because your Personal Injury Accident Lawyer will have to prove two things. First, your attorney will have to show that the actions or negligence of the defendant caused your injury or aggravated a pre-existing condition. Second, your attorney will need to establish that the damages added to the condition. In other words, you cannot collect for something that already exists. You can only receive compensation for how much the accident made your condition worse.

What are pre-existing conditions?

The category of pre-existing conditions is fairly broad. This includes any physical, mental, or psychological injury or illness that you had at the time you were injured by the defendant. Conditions like chronic back pain, concussions, depression, arthritis, diabetes, and anxiety are covered under this terminology. 

In determining whether a condition is pre-existing, there are a number of factors to look at. First, how long ago was the injury? A broken bone from childhood may not be deemed a pre-existing condition if the same bone is fractured in a car accident as an adult. Second, how severe was the prior injury? If you had simply sprained an ankle, it may not be relevant if the same ankle is broken in a subsequent accident. Finally, were you receiving treatment for the condition? If there was no active treatment or a clinician felt it didn’t warrant much attention, then this would seem to suggest that you didn’t have a pre-existing condition.

How can a pre-existing condition affect my claim?

If you have a pre-existing condition, there is a good chance that the person you are suing will argue that they are not liable for your injuries. Instead, they will suggest that most, if not all, of your pain and suffering was the result of the pre-existing condition. This will complicate matters for your attorney, who will need to show that the defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of your pain and not your pre-existing condition. This will involve having medical experts examine you and provide testimony that supports this conclusion. At the same time, the defendant will have his or her own set of experts to attempt to refute your arguments.

What is the eggshell plaintiff doctrine?

Fortunately for people with pre-existing conditions, Texas follows the eggshell plaintiff doctrine. This is a legal principle that the defendant is liable for the injuries of a plaintiff regardless of the plaintiff’s physical and mental condition. In other words, the defendants in personal injury cases have to take plaintiffs as they are. So, if a person without a pre-existing condition wouldn’t have been injured in the accident, this point is irrelevant to the case. While the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition may have made him or her more liable to get hurt, the defendant cannot argue that a healthy person wouldn’t have been injured. 

Further, if the defendant’s negligence exacerbated the plaintiff’s injury, the plaintiff can collect compensation to the extent that the condition was made worse. So, if you suffer from osteoporosis and get a broken bone in a car accident, the defendant cannot attempt to escape liability by arguing that your health condition made you more likely to suffer bone breaks and fractures.

What kind of compensation may you be entitled to?

As in any personal injury case here in Texas, there are a number of categories of compensation, including medical bills, lost wages, the cost of durable medical equipment and prescription medication, and pain and suffering. Of these, the ones that may become an issue with a pre-existing condition case will be medical bills and pain and suffering. While you won’t be able to collect for the underlying condition, you will be able to get compensated to the extent the defendant’s negligence made your condition worse. So, if you were already being treated for depression and the accident set you back in your treatment, you could be compensated for the worsening of symptoms and added visits you will need to make up for the ground you lost as a result of the accident.

If you have a pre-existing condition and are injured in an accident, call our firm today.

Having a pre-existing condition does not prevent you from receiving compensation if you are injured as the result of another person’s negligence. Call Hernandez Sunosky LLP, and let our experienced personal injury attorneys help you with your personal injury claim.