It is common for individuals to have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions before an accident occurs. However, when it comes to Charleston personal injury claims, pre-existing injuries can add an extra layer of complexity.
How a Pre-Existing Injury Can Affect a Personal Injury Claim?
After an accident, the at-fault party is liable for any resulting damages. Therefore, if you suffered an injury, you have the right to compensation for your medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. However, when you have a pre-existing injury, it can be challenging to differentiate your new injuries and prove your losses are related to the accident, especially if you were already receiving ongoing medical care before the collision. As a result, the at-fault party’s insurance company may argue that your injuries are not related to the accident and were pre-existing.
The “Eggshell Skull Rule”
The Eggshell Skull Rule is a legal doctrine in tort law that states that a defendant (at-fault party) is liable for all the damages caused by their negligent or intentional act, even if the plaintiff (the injured party) had a pre-existing condition or susceptibility that made them more vulnerable to harm.
In practical terms, this means that a defendant must take the plaintiff as they find them. If a plaintiff with a pre-existing condition or vulnerability is injured due to the defendant’s negligence, the defendant is liable for the actual, tangible harm caused, regardless of the plaintiff’s existing health condition.
This rule serves to protect individuals who are more susceptible to injury due to their specific physical condition, ensuring that they are not unfairly denied compensation for injuries caused by another party’s negligence.
Exacerbation or Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition
Since pre-existing injuries or conditions do not disqualify you from recovering compensation, you can recover compensation for its “exacerbation” or “aggravation:”
- Exacerbation refers to a minor flaring up of a condition.
- Aggravation is a severe injury that requires further medical treatment.
Therefore, you must be able to provide medical evidence that the accident exacerbated or aggravated your pre-existing condition, or you risk the insurer denying compensation for your medical care. An attorney can help you gather evidence to establish the difference in your injury severity before and after the accident.
What are Pre-Existing Injuries?
There are various types of pre-existing injuries or conditions that individuals may have before being involved in an accident. For example:
- Arthritis: Existing joint conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can be exacerbated by the impact of a car accident, leading to increased pain and limited mobility.
- Back and Neck Injuries: Conditions such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or whiplash can be worsened in a car accident, potentially leading to chronic pain and decreased functionality.
- Previous Fractures: Bones that have previously been broken or fractured may be more susceptible to reinjury or complications.
- Head Injuries: Individuals with a history of concussions or traumatic brain injuries may experience a recurrence or worsening of symptoms following an accident.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: Pre-existing soft tissue injuries, such as muscle strains or ligament tears, can be aggravated.
- Heart Conditions: Individuals with heart conditions may experience increased stress and potential complications due to the shock and physical exertion of a personal injury accident.
- Psychological Conditions: Pre-existing mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be exacerbated or triggered.
If you or someone you love has a pre-existing injury or condition and was injured due to the negligence of another party, speak to a West Virginia injury lawyer as soon as possible. They will make sure you are not taken advantage of and help you recover the compensation you deserve. From slip and fall incidents to truck accident lawsuits in Charleston, WV, they can help.