How Pre-Existing Conditions Impact Personal Injury Claims

If you have been in an accident, you already feel victimized by the negligent party who caused you to be injured. If you have a pre-existing condition, you may feel victimized a second time by the opposing party’s legal team and the insurance companies.


They are going to try to prove the injury you sustained was made more likely because of your pre-existing condition, and not either worsened by that condition or even separate from it. In short: they will try to use your pre-existing condition against you.

Which pre-existing conditions may complicate your claim?

Any party which is potentially liable for your injury, including insurers and the defendant’s legal team, will be on the lookout for any medical condition or previous injury that can help them defend against a personal injury claim or lawsuit. That’s why it is imperative that you inform your attorney of any conditions you had prior to the accident, no matter how minor or insignificant they may seem to you.

Among the most common pre-existing conditions that the defendant’s lawyers will go after are:

      • Prior back injuries: A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report states that 80 percent of adults experience back pain at some point in their lives and up to 20 percent of those live with chronic back pain. Previous back injuries may have injured tendons, muscles or ligaments or caused spinal compression. A second injury can aggravate or worsen any previous damage.
      • Past surgeries: Any past surgery can be called into question, and that is another reason it is important to have your attorney talk to the insurance adjuster. Even a statement made honestly and innocently can be turned into an “admission against interest,” which means that whatever you say can also be used against you. A personal injury attorney is experienced and knows how to talk to insurance adjusters and insurance company lawyers.
      • Heart problems: If you already have a heart condition, such as coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy or a prior heart attack, any accident can further stress your heart. Blunt force trauma to the sternum or chest area is dangerous in any accident. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of this type of injury.

Other types of pre-existing medical conditions that may have an impact on your personal injury claim include asthma, high blood pressure (HBP), diabetes and arthritis.

How a “Thin Skull” can help

This has nothing to do with the bones that protect your brain. Also called the “Eggshell Injury Doctrine,” the “Thin Skull” law helps protect people who have suffered a personal injury and who have pre-existing conditions by stating that the negligent party must “take their victims as they find them.” In other words, they cannot dodge their liability simply because you (the injured party) had a pre-existing condition and may have been more susceptible to being hurt.

You have options

Chances are you may have many questions about how your pre-existing medical condition may affect a personal injury claim. To learn more about your options, please call Burwell Nebout Trial Lawyers at (281) 645-5000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.