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Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

Denning Law Firm, LLC July 21, 2022

Many people who get injured in motor vehicle accidents and other traumatic events have pre-existing medical conditions. Unfortunately, many of those who have pre-existing injuries think their condition will preclude them from filing a personal injury claim and obtaining compensation.

Your pre-existing condition may indeed affect your personal injury claim. It is also true that the insurance company will most likely use the injuries that you suffered before the accident to deny or undervalue your claim. However, you are still entitled to fair compensation even if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Our personal injury attorneys at Denning Law Firm, LLC, can review the circumstances of your situation and help you understand the potential effect of your pre-existing condition on your ability to obtain compensation. We take personal injury cases throughout the states of Missouri and Kansas, including Kansas City and Overland Park.

What Are ‘Pre-Existing Medical Conditions’?

In the context of personal injury law, the term “pre-existing condition” refers to any injury or medical condition a person had before they filed a personal injury claim. When filing a compensation claim, a claimant must specify whether or not they have any pre-existing medical conditions. The claimant’s pre-existing injuries will be taken into account when calculating the appropriate compensation, especially if the accident worsened the condition.

Generally, personal injury claimants cannot receive compensation for medical conditions that they had before filing a claim if the accident did not affect the condition. However, they have a right to seek compensation for pre-existing injuries to the degree to which the accident made them worse.

Essentially, any medical condition or injury that existed before the accident is considered a pre-existing condition. Some of the common examples of pre-existing conditions are:

  • Injuries suffered in previous accidents

  • Birth injuries or defects

  • Brain injuries

  • Back and neck injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Broken or fractured bones

  • Mental illnesses and disorders

  • Pregnancy

  • Asthma

  • Diabetes

  • Epilepsy

  • Cancer

  • High blood pressure

These and other medical conditions can be considered “pre-existing conditions” if they existed before the date of the accident.

Pre-Existing Conditions

& a Personal Injury Claim

Depending on state law, the accident victim’s insurance company may agree to pay for the losses caused by the accident and also cover the cost of the treatment for a pre-existing condition as long as the accident aggravated that condition. However, insurance companies often try to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, especially if there is not enough evidence to prove that the accident affected the condition. 

  • In Kansas, which adheres to the no-fault insurance system, motorists must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. A driver can receive PIP benefits for injuries caused by the accident and any pre-existing conditions that were aggravated by the accident regardless of fault.

  • In Missouri, which adheres to the at-fault insurance system, motorists must carry a minimum amount of liability coverage on their auto insurance policies. Liability coverage pays for a driver’s medical expenses and other damages if the driver is not at fault for the accident.

Generally, an insurance company will pay for medical costs related to the treatment of a pre-existing condition as long as there is evidence to prove that the accident caused the condition to worsen. However, you will be precluded from filing a personal injury claim and requesting compensation for injuries that existed before the accident if the accident did not affect the pre-existing condition.

What Is the Eggshell Plaintiff Rule?

If you are filing a personal injury claim when you have a pre-existing condition, you need to understand how the “eggshell plaintiff” rule works. The eggshell plaintiff rule, also known as the eggshell skull rule, holds that a negligent defendant should take the victim (the plaintiff) as they find them.

Under the legal doctrine, the defendant is liable for any injuries caused or worsened by their negligent conduct, even if the plaintiff is particularly susceptible to injury. The rule prevents defendants from claiming that the victim’s pre-existing condition excuses their negligence.

The eggshell plaintiff rule recognizes that victims can suffer increased damages because of their pre-existing conditions. Negligent defendants can be held liable for the damages they cause as long as there is evidence that they violated an ordinary standard of care.

If you are worried about the potential effect of pre-existing conditions on your personal injury claim, you must seek legal counsel from a skilled attorney.

How Denning Law Firm, LLC Can Help

At Denning Law Firm, LLC, we stand up for the rights of accident victims in both Kansas and Missouri. We are dedicated to helping clients receive the compensation they are entitled to, regardless of whether they have pre-existing conditions. We have the knowledge, experience, and resources necessary to assist in your unique situation. Get a case evaluation today by reaching out to us in Overland Park, Kansas.