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Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Effect on an Injury Claim

Law Offices of Jeff Martin Oct. 17, 2023

If you’ve been involved in an injury accident, you’ve likely started taking steps to get yourself medical help as well as compensation for your expenses. This process can be time consuming and complicated—but what can exacerbate this even further is if you’re worried about how your pre-existing medical condition could affect your claim. This is a valid concern. 
In situations like these, it’s important to reach out for legal guidance from a personal injury attorney. If you’d like help filing an insurance claim and as well as help answering the question, “How does a pre-existing condition affect my injury claim?” reach out to us at Law Offices of Jeff Martin. Our office is located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we’re able to serve clients throughout Eastern Oklahoma including Muskogee, Bartlesville, and McAlester. 

What Are “Pre-Existing Medical Conditions?”  

The term “pre-existing medical condition” is one that can come up frequently, especially in the course of filing an insurance claim for a personal injury claim. Essentially, this refers to any medical condition, injury, or illness that an individual has prior to experiencing a new injury. This is a broad category that includes several conditions like the following: 

  • Broken bones 

  • Traumatic brain injury 

  • Sprains 

  • Arthritis 

  • Diabetes 

  • Heart disease 

  • Osteoporosis 

  • Herniated disc 

  • Fibromyalgia 

  • Congenital abnormalities or other birth defects 

  • Asthma  

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 

  • Cancer 

  • Depression or anxiety 

  • Parkinson’s 

How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Claim?  

When someone files a personal injury claim, they’re requesting damages related to a specific incident that caused them to become injured. Part of this process is presenting clear evidence that the accident or incident directly caused the injury as well as thorough medical documentation describing the injury, symptoms, and related expenses needed to treat it. 

However, when that same individual who was injured has a preexisting condition, they will be tasked with providing even more documentation that separates the symptoms related to their previous injury compared to those of their new injury. Importantly, someone having a pre-existing condition may still be able to seek compensation for their new injuries, even if the new injury is made worse by the old one.

As you may expect, presenting a convincing case like this can be incredibly complex since the burden is on you to delineate the two conditions. This is exactly why your first step after an accident like this should be to contact an experienced attorney who can help you make sense of it all and pursue the compensation you deserve. 

“Eggshell Plaintiff”  

When learning about this process and working with your lawyer, you’ll eventually come across a legal concept known as the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. Once you have a clear understanding of this rule, you’ll better comprehend what your case may look like. 

To get a good sense of this concept, you’ll first need to imagine a plaintiff (the injured party who’s seeking damages) whose body is as fragile and delicate as an eggshell. You could then imagine if this person got into an accident, even a minor one, that their injuries would likely be far more extensive than a “normal” person under the same circumstances. Under the eggshell plaintiff rule, the accident victim can legally seek damages for all of their injuries, even if they were made substantially worse by their “eggshell” body.

Fundamentally, you can’t be further punished simply because you happened to be already injured prior to getting into an accident. For example, if a person with osteoporosis was hit by a car, they would probably suffer from far more broken bones than a “normal” person, and require multiple surgeries to heal. In this example, the at-fault driver would be legally responsible for all these damages, even though another victim may have only experienced a fraction of these damages. 

Often, because the medical expenses can be so high for those with pre-existing conditions, a simple insurance claim won’t be enough to cover all your needs. Those who suffer new injuries on top of pre-existing injuries also frequently have longer recovery periods and require more medical intervention. If you settle an insurance claim too soon, you may not account for all your future expenses and could be left paying out of pocket for them. This is all the more reason to ensure you have strong legal representation on your side so you and your family can find a path forward. 

You Deserve Quality Legal Counsel  

Working through the trauma—both physically and emotionally—after being in an accident is extremely difficult. Those with pre-existing conditions will have an even harder time navigating this process. It’s highly recommended to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible for detail-oriented advocacy and compassionate counsel. If you’re in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area and want to learn more about your options, contact us at the Law Offices of Jeff Martin.