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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

Posted on November 29, 2021 in

When discussing personal injury cases, many people assume that the victim was in perfect health before the accident. However, this is rarely the case. Millions of people across the United States live with a pre-existing condition, such as a previous injury or a chronic illness.

Whether it be a bad back or an extremely fragile skull, a pre-existing injury could complicate a personal injury claim. However, your injury should not prevent you from recovering compensation as long as you have a valid case.

How a Pre-Existing Condition Could Affect a Personal Injury Claim

When you file a lawsuit after an accident, you are holding the at-fault party accountable for the losses you experienced due to that accident. If you have a pre-existing injury, it can be difficult to discern whether or not your damages are related to the accident or a symptom of your previous condition. You can only collect compensation for the new injuries you sustained, as well as any aggravation of your pre-existing injury.

In these situations, it is important to schedule a consultation with a Chicago personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will have access to valuable resources to prove your right to certain damages. For example, he or she can enlist the help of an expert medical professional who can evaluate your injuries and testify on your behalf.

The Eggshell Skull Rule and Illinois Personal Injury Lawsuits

If you have a pre-existing injury, it is very common for the at-fault party’s defense attorney to attempt to use this information against you. The defense may claim that your injuries make you more susceptible to damages than the average person and therefore the at-fault party shouldn’t be liable for your damages. According to a legal doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule, however, you still have the right to recover full compensation.

The eggshell skull rule states that a victim in a personal injury lawsuit can hold the at-fault party accountable for their damages, regardless of previous injury. For example, say that a person with a skull as fragile as an eggshell is involved in a car accident and sustains a very severe brain injury. The at-fault driver must pay for the damages that the victim suffered, even if the injuries are significantly worse than what a person with a harder skull would have sustained.

Pre-Existing Injuries and Insurance Claims

Many personal injury lawsuits begin as insurance claims, such as motor vehicle accidents and premises liability cases. During the insurance process, it is common for the company to search through a claimant’s medical history and attempt to find evidence that the accident did not affect your health. The company may claim that your pre-existing injury is responsible for the symptoms you experienced, not the accident.

As a result, it is very important to hire a lawyer to represent your case. Your attorney can evaluate your complete medical history and consult with experts to strengthen your claim. When negotiating with the insurance company, your lawyer can advocate for your maximum compensation and help establish your right to maximum recovery.

What to Do After an Accident in Illinois

As soon as possible following your accident, seek emergency medical attention and save all records related to your treatment and injuries. If possible, collect any evidence that you have about your pre-existing injury. Once you gather this information, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and legal options.