Being injured in an accident is always a difficult experience. If you had a pre-existing condition at the time, it can be even more stressful. You may wonder if you can sue and if defense attorneys will use your health condition against you. This guide sheds light on personal injury law and pre-existing conditions, provides an outlook on your rights and shows how such conditions might impact a personal injury claim.
If you were injured in an accident and had a pre-existing condition at the time, this guide provides you with vital knowledge and insights.
Introduction to Personal Injury Claims
You can file a personal injury claim to seek compensation if you’ve been injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence. Personal injury claims are meant to help cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, amongst other things. For many, the idea of filing a lawsuit is intimidating. Most don’t have experience with the legal process and may worry about the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney. However, you can afford to hire a personal injury lawyer and should hold those at fault accountable for their actions.
Understanding Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law is a type of civil law that focuses on compensating people injured due to someone else’s negligence. In California, negligence is defined as a failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to others. In short, anyone who acts negligently and causes harm to someone else can be held responsible for their actions.
Basics of a Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury claim is a legal action that seeks compensation for damages sustained due to someone else’s negligence. To file a personal injury claim, you must provide evidence that the other party was negligent and that your injuries were a direct result of their actions. This is done with the help of a personal injury lawyer who will work on your behalf to gather all necessary evidence and present your case in court or settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
Differences between Personal Injury Claims and Other Legal Claims
Personal injury claims differ from other legal claims, such as workers’ compensation or Social Security disability claims. Workers’ compensation claims are for people who have been injured while on the job, while Social Security disability claims are for people who are unable to work due to a disability. Unlike the other two types of claims, personal injury cases cover a wide range of injuries and accidents. They can be filed against anyone who acted negligently – not just an employer or the government.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in California
It’s vital you act fast when filing a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait, critical evidence will be lost and defense attorneys will question whether your injuries were even caused by your accident. Also, there is a time limit for how long a person has to file a lawsuit. In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident or injury, however, this can vary. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the right time period, you lose your right to seek compensation from the negligent party.
The Role of Pre-existing Conditions
Suffering an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing can be even more challenging if you have a pre-existing medical condition. When dealing with personal injury claims, it’s important to consider how pre-existing conditions can impact the outcome of your case.
Pre-existing conditions may or may not be related to the injury you sustained. For instance, a pre-existing condition may include a chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Or it may be a back injury, which could have been made worse in an accident. Personal injury lawyers typically consider two factors when determining if a condition is a pre-existing condition: its existence before the accident and the severity of the injury.
How Pre-Existing Conditions Can Impact a Personal Injury Claim
First, it’s vital you tell your personal injury lawyer about your pre-existing condition. If the defendant argues your pre-existing condition caused your current health problems, not your accident injury, your personal injury lawyer will be caught off guard if they don’t know the current state of your health.
Inform your attorney about any pre-existing conditions you have. Your attorney will know how to manage your case and determine which parts of your injuries were caused by the accident, not the condition.
Common pre-existing conditions in personal injury cases include various medical conditions, such as:
- Herniated discs
- Previous fractures
- Chronic back pain
- Knee pain
Additionally, pre-existing mental or emotional health issues such as depression or anxiety can also play a factor in injury claims. If a pre-existing condition has been impacted by the accident; it is crucial to have proper documentation detailing the history of your condition before the accident.
If you have a pre-existing condition made worse due to the accident, it does not mean you cannot file a claim and receive compensation. Here’s where having a trusted personal injury lawyer is essential. Your attorney must evaluate your pre-existing condition and determine which damages can be attributed to the current accident, considering any changes to your physical or mental health.
Specific Pre-existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions can have a significant impact on personal injury claims. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis can complicate claims and make it difficult to determine the value of your case. Insurance adjusters may argue that your pre-existing condition contributed to your injuries, reducing your compensation.
However, having a pre-existing condition does not mean that you are not entitled to compensation. It simply means that a skilled personal injury attorney will need to show the extent of your accident injuries and how your pre-existing conditions had nothing to do with the current state of your health. If they can prove your pre-existing condition did not contribute to your injuries or that the accident aggravated an existing injury, you’ll likely be eligible for compensation.
Mental health conditions can also impact personal injury claims. Conditions like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a debilitating effect on accident victims. These conditions can worsen physical injuries and make working or carrying out daily activities challenging.
Case studies and examples of how these conditions affect claims can help you understand the impact of pre-existing conditions on personal injury claims. For instance, imagine you have arthritis and were involved in a car accident that resulted in a broken arm. The insurance adjuster may argue that your arthritis contributed to the injury, reducing your compensation. However, if you can provide medical evidence that the accident aggravated your arthritis or caused a new injury, you’ll still be eligible for compensation.
The ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Theory
The ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ theory refers to the legal principle that holds a wrongdoer responsible for the full extent of harm caused to a victim, even if the victim had a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to injury. In other words, if a victim is particularly vulnerable due to a pre-existing condition, and an accident worsens the condition, the responsible party will be held liable for the entire harm caused to the victim.
To illustrate this concept, let’s consider an example. Suppose a driver rear-ends someone with a pre-existing back injury causing them to sustain further injuries. The driver who caused the accident will be liable for the entire harm caused to the victim, including the aggravation of the pre-existing injury. This principle is critical as it considers the victim’s vulnerable state and ensures they receive adequate compensation for their losses.
While the ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ theory is straightforward, its applications and limitations can be complex. For instance, it is often challenging to prove that the pre-existing condition was worsened by the accident, especially if there were no visible injuries before the accident. This is where an experienced personal injury law firm comes in handy since they have access to medical experts and know how to handle these specific cases.
Disclosure of Pre-existing Conditions
Disclosing any pre-existing conditions during a medical examination after an accident is important. Informing your doctor about them helps them provide you with appropriate medical attention. By disclosing your pre-existing conditions, your doctor can give you the best treatment possible for your current injuries while considering any pre-existing conditions you have. This information is also essential in ensuring the correct medications, treatments, and dosages are prescribed, which can affect your recovery process.
What Happens if I Don’t Disclose My Pre-Existing Health Conditions?
Non-disclosure of pre-existing conditions can have serious implications when filing an injury claim. Insurance companies will try to reject your claim if you do not disclose any pre-existing conditions. This is because they could argue that your current injuries are from your pre-existing condition and not the accident. By revealing your pre-existing conditions to your personal injury lawyer, you establish a timeline of your medical history, which can help determine the extent of your injuries and provide a basis for a fair compensation.
Failure to disclose your pre-existing conditions can also have legal consequences. It’s important to note that you should disclose any pre-existing conditions to your insurance company by law. Failing to do so can be considered insurance fraud, a criminal offense. You could face fines, imprisonment, or both if you’re found guilty of insurance fraud. Disclosing pre-existing conditions can protect you from legal troubles.
Don’t be afraid to disclose any pre-existing conditions. Not doing so can greatly hurt your claim. Even the most experienced personal injury attorney will have trouble representing you if you aren’t completely honest with them regarding your health.
Dealing with a personal injury claim can be complicated, especially when pre-existing conditions are involved. However, understanding the connection between these conditions and personal injury law can greatly aid in navigating the legal process. Remember the ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ theory; the need for full disclosure, and the potential impact of specific conditions on your claim.
Contact The Dominguez Firm Today
Don’t hesitate to contact The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation today. With over 35 years of experience and a stellar 96%* success rate, we are well-equipped to handle complex personal injury cases, including those that involve pre-existing conditions. To begin your journey towards the compensation you deserve, contact us today at (800)818-1818. Let us put our resources to work for you.
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