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Pre-Existing Medical Condition Aggravated After Accident: Can I Sue?

Teenage Driver Suffering Whiplash Injury Traffic Accident

If you were hurt in a car crash caused by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. You can sue for your medical bills, your lost income, your pain and suffering, and other damages caused by your accident-related injuries. What happens, though, if your injuries existed before the accident? What if you already had a bad back, but the car crash made it worse? What if you were dealing with a concussion and the car crash caused another traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Can you still sue?

Continue reading to learn about how pre-existing medical conditions can affect your car crash injury claims. If you were hurt in a traffic accident in Southern California, call an experienced Lancaster car accident attorney at the Kistler Law Firm for stellar advice and representation.

You Can Only Recover for Accident-Related Damages

Having a pre-existing medical condition can complicate your personal injury claim. When you file a claim for damages against an at-fault driver, you can only seek compensation for damages actually caused by the car accident. If you already had a broken leg, for example, you cannot sue based on the existing leg damage.

You can, however, claim any new injuries you suffered as a result of the accident. If you had some damage to your spinal cord, for example, and your car crash caused additional damage, you can sue based on the harm caused by the additional damage. You can look to collect for your lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and any other harm caused by the car crash.

The fact that you had some pre-existing condition does not prevent you from suing after a car crash. You and your attorney will have to show, however, that your claimed injuries were caused by the car crash. The insurance company and defense lawyers will try to limit your recovery by pointing to the injury or other condition you were already suffering. It’s up to you and your legal team to prove just how much worse you are now, following the crash.

The Eggshell Plaintiff and Pre-Existing Conditions

Historically, defense attorneys tried to say that a plaintiff should not be able to recover for added damage that would not have occurred but for a pre-existing condition. If the plaintiff had a medical condition that made their bones more brittle, for example, the defense would argue that it’s unfair to impose full liability on the defendant for bones broken in the accident; any other plaintiff would have suffered less injury.

In the modern era, there’s a principle of law known as the “eggshell plaintiff.” In essence, it refutes that exact argument. When a defendant does something negligent that injures the plaintiff, the defendant is on the hook for all damage that their actions caused the plaintiff–even if the plaintiff is more vulnerable than other people would have been.

You Can Recover for Aggravation of an Existing Condition

The same reasoning applies to the aggravation of pre-existing conditions. If you already had some injury, such as a bad back that was healing, and this car crash caused your condition to be much worse, you can seek compensation for the additional harm caused by the crash.

The defense will, of course, try to argue you were already injured and that the car crash did no new damage. It’ll be up to you and your personal injury legal team, once again, to prove that the additional harm was actually caused by the crash.

A seasoned car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve after a Southern California traffic collision. At the Kistler Law Firm, our Lancaster auto accident attorneys will work with you to assess your case, gather evidence, and pursue appropriate legal action on your behalf. Reach out to our team today to schedule a free consultation about your case.

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