Can a Preexisting Condition Hurt My Personal Injury Claim?

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on December 30, 2020 in Personal Injury
Updated on February 24, 2022

doctor-at-desk-reviewing-x-raysWhether a preexisting condition will hurt your personal injury claim or not largely depends on how it is handled. Should you try to keep your prior injuries under wrap? Should you simply downplay them? Should you even tell your attorney about them?

These are all valid questions that PKSD answers, as well as common mistakes that accident victims make that can badly damage the value of an injury claim.

Our knowledgeable Milwaukee-based personal injury lawyers are prepared to help those hurt by another’s negligence. We have extensive experience representing injured victims, and we are well-versed in preparing strategies that help to protect and strengthen our client’s claims. Schedule a free consultation with our firm to learn more.

Why Preexisting Conditions Matter in a Claim

Preexisting conditions matter, because from the insurance company and defendant’s perspective, there should be no financial responsibility for an injury you had before the accident with their client. However, the bigger question is, what does the law say about how a preexisting condition may affect your personal injury claim?

Types of Preexisting Conditions

When pursuing compensation in a claim for damages, there are two types of preexisting conditions that can impact your case.

  • Previous injuries: This is the type of injury that most people may think of as preexisting. An example of a previous injury might be if you suffered a herniated disc two years ago in another accident. In this scenario, should the defendant be liable for your back pain?
  • Chronic injuries: Chronic injuries may occur through any number of ways – such as a prior accident or repetitive use injury. For instance, if you suffered a carpal tunnel injury from years of typing or guitar playing, does this cancel out any exacerbation of your pain caused by a new accident?

Mistakes Injured Victims Often Make

When people end up making an old injury worse in a new accident, there are many mistakes they commonly make. These simple errors can be costly in a personal injury claim.

Injured victims with preexisting injuries often damage the value of their personal injury claim by:

  • Talking to an insurance adjuster about preexisting injuries before speaking with a lawyer: Unfortunately, this gives the insurance company the chance to use this information against you.
  • Not telling your attorney about your preexisting injury or medical condition: It is difficult for your attorney to protect your legal interests if you are not completely up front about all factors that could impact your claim, including any prior injuries or medical conditions you may have.
  • Mistakenly thinking you can hide your prior injuries: Your medical history will always reveal the truth. It is better to have your attorney prepare the information and present it strategically and at the right time, so that any potential impact on your claim is minimized.
  • Not telling your attorney about any prior injury claims: Your attorney needs to know your full injury history, including any prior claims, to create the best chance of obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries and other losses.
  • Not hiring an attorney: Deciding not to hire an attorney is a personal choice, but it is one that can put you at the mercy of the insurance company and will likely end up with you receiving far less compensation or having your claim completely denied.

Preparing to Pursue Compensation for Your Preexisting Injuries

How preexisting injuries are handled from the moment they occur play a major role in whether you may recover any compensation for the re-injury and exacerbation you sustained in a new accident.

Your Role:

  • Get medical attention immediately after the accident and explain to the doctor how the accident has affected a prior injury or medical condition
  • Do not exaggerate your injuries or lie at any point after the accident – this always backfires
  • Seek legal advice as soon as your injuries are stabilized
  • Follow your attorney’s advice to help him or her obtain fair compensation on your behalf

What Your Attorney Must Prove:

Although the law cannot prevent you from pursuing compensation for a preexisting injury or chronic medical condition, the case will be complex and require a qualified attorney with extensive experience handling this type of personal injury case.

Your attorney’s role will be to prove not only that your injury or medical condition was made worse by the accident, but also without the accident – caused by the defendant’s negligence – you would not be suffering new or worsened symptoms. Your attorney will use your medical records from before, as well as after the accident. Additionally, he or she will likely call on a medical expert to testify about your condition and clarify how the accident made your preexisting injury or condition worse.

Get Legal Help from Our Reputable Firm Today

Our attorneys at PKSD are knowledgeable and have decades of experience handling personal injury cases, even complex claims involving preexisting conditions. We are prepared to discuss your situation in a confidential consultation and determine whether your claim has merit, all without any cost or obligation to you. If you decide to hire our services, there is nothing to pay up front. We do not collect any fees until your case concludes and only if we recover compensation for you.

Experienced lawyers. Millions recovered. No upfront costs. Call: 877-877-2228

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