How Pre-Existing Injuries Affect an Injury Claim

You have been in an automobile accident in Rhode Island and have suffered injuries as a result of that accident. However, your situation is a little different because you were already injured prior to the accident happening. This is known as a pre-existing injury. Clients are often concerned at how an already existing injury at the time of the accident will impact their claim. They believe that because they were already injured, the insurance company will use that against them and are afraid to disclose this information.

The Eggshell Plaintiff

So is this true? Will they be unable to obtain damages from the insurance carrier because of this injury? How much can the pre-existing injury reduce the amount of compensation? The general umbrella answer to this question is that a pre-existing injury should not impact an injured victim's ability to obtain damages. (Keep in mind that every situation is different and you should consult with one of our lawyers about your own specific case.)

This is due to a basic tort theory of law called the "eggshell plaintiff" or also sometimes referred to as the "thin skull plaintiff." The person who injured you "takes their victim as they find them and are responsible for all consequences flowing from that collision. Even if it means most other people would not have required as much treatment as you because of your pre-existing condition. The attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum are well-versed in the preparation of these claims, working with doctors to explain how the collision aggravated the condition and getting all of the compensation necessary. So just because you may have had a condition that made your bones more brittle than most, if the collision caused your fractures, you are entitled to full compensation. Let the attorneys at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum help you.

Why Should I Disclose My Pre-Existing Injury?

The question then becomes why a client would want to disclose an existing condition. Credibility is the main answer to this. It is highly advised that if you have a pre-existing condition or injury that you disclose this to your attorney as soon as possible. That way your attorney has all the information necessary to properly represent you and to start gathering the necessary information to support your claim. This includes past medical history, doctors, physicians and other relevant patient history. If you fail to disclose this information, then the insurance company could possibly use the fact that you "withheld" information about your condition against you.

While your injury may have been tolerable prior to the accident, the accident could have aggravated the injury or exacerbated something that you were able to live with before. That in and of itself is reason to seek further compensation.

Common Types of Pre-Existing Injuries

While any injury or condition that existed prior to an accident is a pre-existing one, there are certain types that are more common than others. These common types of pre-existing injuries often include:

  • Slipped disks, herniated disks, spinal stenosis or degenerative disk disease
  • Spinal cord injuries such as a broken back or damaged spinal cord
  • Broken bones, fractured bones or torn ligaments
  • Joint problems in the knees, elbows or hands
  • Head trauma such as previous concussions or a traumatic brain injury (TBI)

These are just some of the common types of injuries or trauma that an accident victim could have already sustained or been living with before the time of the accident. It is important to not be afraid of filing a claim because of the aggravation of a pre-existing injury in an accident. This does not mean that you are ineligible or that your claim has no merit. The opposite is true in fact, as you should seek damages for not only the new injuries sustained in the accident but the exacerbation or worsening of the existing ones as well.

Talk to Our Lawyers About Your Aggravated Pre-Existing Injury Claim

Our team of personal injury attorneys is highly experienced and knowledgeable with pre-existing injury claims and car accident cases. Discuss your specific case with us today by scheduling a free initial consultation. You can call us at 888-591-9976. You can also reach us online. Since 1933, Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum, Attorneys At Law, Inc., has been here for accident victims throughout Rhode Island.