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Pre-Existing Injuries in a Personal Injury Claim

A common argument insurance companies use to lower the value of your personal injury claim is that you had an injury that pre-dated the accident, and as such, you’re trying to blame the recent accident on a medical condition which already existed. The strength of such an argument varies from case to case, but generally speaking, a pre-existing condition has little to no impact on the value of one’s case, because very rarely does a claimed injury following an accident identically mirror a condition that pre-existed the accident. Indeed, the pre-existing condition often times increases the value of one’s case because it unfortunately causes further damage and injury. The law requires that the at-fault party take the personal injury victim as he finds him/her (see Pre-Existing Injuries: Jury Instructions and Case Law and Thin-Skulled Personal Injury Victim: Legally Defined). This means that if the victim suffered from a condition which made them more susceptible to injury than the average person, the at-fault party is not allowed to use that condition for his benefit by arguing that the value of the claim should be lower. The common name for such a victim is known as “the thin-skulled plaintiff.” For example, an individual suffers from a rare condition which causes them to be susceptible to bone-breakage with minimal impact to their body. This individual is rear ended at a very low speed which caused only minor abrasions to their vehicle. The property damage was minimal and the average person might have only suffered whiplash. This individual unfortunately breaks their shoulder when their seat belt locked up. What would normally be a minor claim with a relatively minor valuation has now turned into a large claim with a high monetary value, all because this individual was more susceptible to greater injury due to their pre-existing condition. The insurance companies love to argue that a prior accident which resulted in back pain years ago is the true blame for the back pain that is present now. Don’t be discouraged. As long as there is no record of immediate treatment for back pain prior to the accident, there is no way the insurance company can prove that an injury that occurred years in the past is the same injury about which the victim is complaining of now. Contact our personal injury attorney to discuss how your pre-existing condition or injuries will impact the value of your case.

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