Car Accident Aggravated Pre-existing Condition? Know Your Settlement Rights

back xray of car accident aggravated pre-existing condition for settlement review

Car Accident Aggravated Pre-existing Condition? Know Your Settlement Rights

Car accidents are traumatic events that leave their mark the lives of those involved. Among the many challenges victims face, one particularly complex situation arises when a car accident aggravates a pre-existing condition.

In the United States, millions of individuals live with chronic conditions or past injuries — pre-existing conditions that can be aggravated by the force and trauma of a car accident. These conditions can range from prior musculoskeletal injuries to chronic diseases like arthritis or degenerative disc disease, which, when exacerbated, can lead to increased pain, suffering, and medical expenses.

In personal injury law, there is a principle commonly referred to as the “Eggshell Plaintiff” doctrine, which underlines that a defendant must take their victim as they find them, pre-existing conditions and all. This means that if a car accident aggravates a pre-existing condition, the victim is entitled to compensation for the additional harm caused, despite the pre-existing nature of their condition.

This article aims to navigate through the intricacies of car accident aggravated pre-existing conditions settlement details to help you understanding your rights. We take a close look at pre-existing conditions within the context of car accidents, your legal rights, the settlement process, and the benefits of experienced legal representation. Our goal is to provide you with a comprehensive overview and help you navigate the process with more confidence and clarity.

Understanding Car Accident Aggravated Pre-existing Conditions

clipboard with "pre-existing condition" written on it

What Is a Pre-existing Condition?

A pre-existing condition is any medical ailment or injury that an individual has prior to a car accident. These conditions can vary widely, from chronic conditions like arthritis to physical injuries such as herniated discs or previous fractures. 

How Car Accidents Aggravate Pre-existing Conditions

Car accidents exert significant force on the body, which can aggravate existing medical conditions in several ways. For instance:

  • Orthopedic Injuries: Conditions such as previous bone fractures or joint disorders can be significantly worsened by the impact of a car accident. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery highlights that even low-speed collisions can exacerbate pre-existing musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Chronic Illnesses: Diseases like arthritis or fibromyalgia may see a spike in symptoms post-accident due to the stress and physical trauma inflicted on the body.
  • Neurological Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing neurological conditions, such as a history of strokes or seizures, may experience an increase in symptoms or a worsening of their condition post-accident.

The Importance of Recognizing Aggravated Conditions

Understanding the connection between car accidents and the aggravation of pre-existing conditions is crucial for several reasons:

  • Medical Treatment: Immediate and appropriate medical attention can prevent further deterioration of the condition and aid in a more accurate assessment of the injury’s impact.
  • Legal Claims: Accurately documenting the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions is essential for personal injury claims. It ensures that victims can seek compensation not just for immediate injuries but also for the long-term impact on their health and well-being.
  • Insurance Considerations: Insurance companies often scrutinize claims involving pre-existing conditions closely. Clear documentation and medical evidence linking the accident to the aggravation of the condition are vital for a fair settlement.

Documenting Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions

  • Medical Records: Prior medical records are invaluable in establishing a baseline for pre-existing conditions. Post-accident medical assessments can then illustrate how the condition has worsened.
  • Expert Testimony: In some cases, expert medical testimony may be necessary to explain the extent of aggravation and its impact on the victim’s health.
  • Personal Documentation: Keeping a detailed journal of symptoms before and after the accident can provide personal evidence of the condition’s aggravation.

The relationship between car accidents and the aggravation of pre-existing conditions underscores the importance of thorough medical evaluation and legal representation. Recognizing and documenting the impact of an accident on these conditions ensures that individuals can secure the necessary medical care and compensation to address their worsened health status.

Pre-existing Conditions: Understanding Your Legal Rights 

Victims of car accidents with pre-existing conditions often face the misconception that their claim will be less valid or entirely invalidated due to their prior health issues. However, the law is clear: individuals are entitled to compensation for any exacerbation of pre-existing conditions caused by an accident. This principle is rooted in the concept that a negligent party must “take their victim as they find them,” commonly referred to as the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine.

The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine Explained

white egg standing on end with crack through center

The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine is a fundamental legal principle that ensures victims are compensated for all injuries caused by an accident, regardless of their prior physical condition. It acknowledges that individuals with pre-existing conditions might experience more severe injuries from an accident than someone without such conditions, and the law protects their rights to full compensation.

Case Law Supporting Your Rights

Numerous court decisions reinforce the rights of individuals with pre-existing conditions. For instance, in cases reviewed by state Supreme Courts across the U.S., the judiciary has consistently ruled that exacerbation of pre-existing conditions is compensable. These rulings highlight that the responsibility lies with the at-fault party to compensate for all damages, including the worsening of conditions that existed before the accident.

Documentation and Disclosure

  • Full Disclosure: Being transparent about your pre-existing conditions is crucial. Full disclosure to your attorney and medical providers ensures the accurate assessment of your claim.
  • Medical Documentation: Prior medical records serve as evidence of your condition before the accident. Post-accident medical evaluations should document any changes or exacerbations to establish a direct link to the incident.

Insurance Company Negotiations

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, as they may attempt to minimize compensation by arguing that the damages are solely related to pre-existing conditions. However, armed with comprehensive medical evidence and understanding your legal rights, you and your attorney can counter these tactics effectively.

  • Expert Witnesses: In some cases, bringing in medical experts who can testify about the nature and extent of your condition’s exacerbation can be pivotal in proving your claim.

When it comes to navigating the claims process, an experienced personal injury attorney can be a valuable asset in protecting your interests in cases involving pre-existing conditions. They can guide you through the legal process, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies and, if necessary, representing you in court.

Your legal rights in the context of pre-existing conditions and car accidents are protected. Understanding these rights and the applicable legal doctrines, such as the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine, is the first step toward ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. With the right approach to documentation and the support of skilled legal representation, you can navigate the claims process successfully, regardless of your pre-existing conditions.

What if a Car Accident Aggravated Pre-existing Condition: Settlement Details

The settlement process for car accident claims, especially those involving aggravated pre-existing conditions, can be complex and challenging. It involves negotiations with insurance companies to reach an agreement on the compensation amount for your injuries, including any aggravation of pre-existing conditions caused by the accident.

Key Steps in the Settlement Process

✅ Step #1: Gathering and Organizing Evidence: The foundation of a successful settlement is robust evidence. This includes medical records, expert testimony, accident reports, and any other documentation that supports the claim of aggravation of pre-existing conditions.

✅ Step #2: Determining Compensation Amount: Calculate the total compensation you’re seeking, considering medical expenses (both current and future), lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other damages related to the exacerbation of your pre-existing condition.

✅ Step #3: Initiating the Claim: Notify the at-fault party’s insurance company of your intent to seek compensation. This typically involves sending a demand letter that outlines your injuries, the evidence supporting your claim, and the compensation amount you’re seeking.

✅ Step #4: Negotiation: The insurance company will likely respond to your demand with a lower offer, initiating a negotiation phase. This is where having detailed medical evidence and a clear understanding of your rights is crucial. Be prepared to refute any attempts by the insurance company to downplay the severity of your condition or its connection to the accident.

✅ Step #5: Settlement Agreement: If negotiations are successful, you’ll reach a settlement agreement. Ensure that the settlement covers all your current and future needs related to the aggravated condition before agreeing.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

❗ Challenge #1: Insurance Company Resistance: Insurance companies often aim to minimize their payouts. Armed with comprehensive medical evidence and legal support, you can effectively counter their arguments and push for a fair settlement.

❗ Challenge #2: Underestimating Future Costs: It’s crucial not to underestimate the future medical expenses and impacts of your aggravated condition. Consider consulting with medical professionals to accurately project future needs.

Jay Pickering Law Firm Can Help

At Jay Pickering Law Firm, we understand the complexities and challenges that come with pursuing a settlement for car accident claims, especially those involving aggravated pre-existing conditions. 

Navigating the settlement process requires gathering solid medical evidence, accurately calculating your damages, and effectively negotiating with insurance companies. These are key to securing a fair settlement. In complex cases, or when negotiations prove challenging, enlisting the support of our personal injury attorneys can be instrumental in achieving a favorable outcome.

We are committed to standing by your side every step of the way, leveraging our experience to navigate the intricacies of your case. If you or a loved one has suffered an aggravation of pre-existing conditions due to a car accident, Jay Pickering Law Firm is here to help. Contact us today for a 100% free case consultation to discuss your case and explore how we can support you in securing the justice and compensation you deserve.

Jay Pickering, an experienced Alabama car accident lawyer.

Attorney Jay Pickering brings over 27 years of unwavering dedication to personal injury law, with a sharp focus on representing those injured in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents across Alabama. A proud alum of the University of Alabama School of Law, Jay is a member of the Alabama State Bar and the American Bar Association.