Will a Pre-Existing Condition Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

December 23, 2020

In personal injury law, a pre-existing condition is a health problem or injury a plaintiff had before the accident occurred. A pre-existing condition may come up during a claim to damages if the insurance company tries to deny benefits with the reason that the client already had the injuries claimed. If you have a pre-existing condition, protect yourself by hiring a lawyer to help you with the claims process in Arizona.

What Pre-Existing Condition Do You Have?

Many different pre-existing conditions could impact your personal injury claim as an injured victim. A pre-existing condition could make an accident-related injury more severe, or else an accident could exacerbate a pre-existing injury. Either way, you will still be eligible for damages, in most cases. Common pre-existing conditions brought up in personal injury claims include:

  • Healed broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Herniated disks
  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Chronic back or neck pain
  • Brain injuries
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis or joint conditions

Regardless of what pre-existing condition or injury you have, learn how to handle the claims process for a favorable outcome.

Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Claims

If found liable for an accident, a defendant will have to pay the full amount of the victim’s related medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the injury was pre-existing, however, and not from the accident, the defendant would not have to pay. For this reason, pre-existing injuries are common excuses for insurance companies to deny claims in Arizona. In many cases, these denials are unfounded and only serve as attempts by the insurer to save money.

An insurance company cannot deny a claim for a new injury simply because you had a pre-existing injury or condition prior to the accident. The legal doctrine that forbids this is the Eggshell Skull Rule. This rule in civil law states that a defendant will be responsible for an injured victim’s full damages, even if the victim had a condition that made him or her especially prone to injury.

The concept behind the Eggshell Skull Rule is to take victims as you find them. If the victim had an eggshell-thin skull, for example, and suffered a catastrophic brain injury that another victim likely would not have suffered, the defendant would still be liable for the victim’s brain injury. This rule means an insurance company must still treat you fairly and offer benefits for its policyholder’s negligence, even if you have a pre-existing condition.

How to Protect Your Rights as Someone With a Pre-Existing Condition

One of the most substantial obstacles you could face as a claimant with a pre-existing condition is an insurance company denying benefits or reducing your payout using the argument that the injury you are claiming is something that existed before the accident. The best way to protect yourself from this argument is to avoid signing a medical release form sent to you by the insurance company.

A medical release form often requests a blanket authorization to access your past and future medical records. This is a tactic for an insurance company to find a reason to deny your claim based on a previous injury or illness. Rather than allowing the insurance company to see your full medical history, restrict access to only the documents relevant to your case. Further protect your rights by hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you.

If you have any pre-existing conditions, disclose them to your lawyer. Your attorney will need to know everything about you to achieve a favorable settlement on your behalf. Your injury lawyer can help you disclose your pre-existing condition to an insurance company in a way that will not hurt your claim. Your lawyer can also help if an insurance company has denied your claim based on a pre-existing condition. Protect your rights by hiring a personal injury lawyer from the very beginning of your case.