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How Pre-Existing Conditions Affect an Injury Claim

Colburn Law

Pre-Existing Injuries & Personal Injury Lawsuits

Accidents can be expensive. After sustaining an injury, you may need to take time off work, receive expensive medical care, and experience physical and psychological pain and suffering, affecting your quality of life. If someone else is responsible for the accident, you may be eligible to pursue compensation through a lawsuit or insurance claim.

If you have a pre-existing condition, however, your injury claim will become more complicated. You can still recover compensation for your injuries, but you will need to take important considerations into account.

Pre-Existing Injuries and the Insurance Process

After certain accidents, such as car crashes or injuries on someone else’s property, you may pursue an insurance claim for your damages. An insurance representative will investigate your claim, determine if you are eligible for compensation based on company policies, and offer a settlement.

However, you can only collect a settlement for the injuries you sustained in the actual crash. If you have a pre-existing condition, the company could use it as evidence to reduce or deny your claim. For example, if you sustain whiplash during your accident but have a history of back problems, the insurance company may attribute your symptoms to your pre-existing condition and refuse to pay for your medical care.

When filing an insurance claim, you will need to provide evidence of your original condition as well as the injury you are claiming compensation for. It is important to seek medical attention immediately after your accident to obtain documentation of your injuries. A Seattle car accident attorney can help you identify and gather evidence to support your claim.

Washington’s Eggshell Skull Principle

The second pathway to compensation after an accident is a personal injury lawsuit. You will file a complaint in Washington civil court alleging the at-fault party’s negligence directly caused your injuries and resulting damages. You will need to provide sufficient evidence to establish the defendant’s liability.

When overseeing cases involving pre-existing conditions, Washington courts follow the eggshell skull principle. This doctrine states that if you had a condition that would have made you more likely to suffer from injuries, you still deserve compensation for the full extent of your injuries. Washington courts base this compensation on whether or not you were symptomatic or asymptomatic at the time of the accident.

If your condition was symptomatic, or you experienced pain, discomfort, or other symptoms, you can only receive compensation for the extent that the accident aggravated your injuries. The courts will award damages from the time of the accident until your condition returns to its pre-accident state.

If your condition was asymptomatic, you can collect compensation for the full extent of your injury. Asymptomatic conditions are often underlying, and you may be unaware of them prior to the accident.

Do You Need an Attorney for a Pre-Existing Condition?

Personal injury claims can be complex, especially for people with pre-existing conditions. Hiring a Washington injury attorney can simplify the process.

Your attorney will have handled several claims similar to your own, and will have the knowledge, experience, and skills necessary to guide you through the process. He or she can handle each aspect of your case, from gathering evidence to deposing witnesses and negotiating with insurance companies.

Contact a Seattle personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your next steps.