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What Is the Effect of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions on an Injury Claim?

Maritote Law May 3, 2024

Pre-existing conditions not only introduce challenges when proving the extent of injuries directly caused by the incident, but also in negotiating fair compensation.

The presence of pre-existing conditions can often be leveraged by insurance companies to minimize or deny claims, making it imperative for claimants to understand how these factors influence the outcome of their case.  

At Maritote Law, we understand the difficulties pre-existing conditions can bring to a personal injury claim. We can help you understand how your medical history could impact your claim and help you build a strong case to pursue the full compensation you deserve. 

What Are Pre-Existing Conditions? 

A pre-existing condition refers to any medical issue that was present prior to an accident or incident that led to a new injury. Common examples of pre-existing conditions include, but are not limited to: 

  • Chronic back pain or previous back injuries. 

  • Arthritis or other degenerative joint diseases. 

  • Heart conditions, including a history of heart attacks or surgeries. 

  • Previous concussions or traumatic brain injuries. 

  • Asthma or chronic respiratory disorders. 

  • Diabetes and its related complications. 

  • Psychological conditions such as PTSD or anxiety disorders. 

When filing a personal injury claim, it's important to disclose any relevant pre-existing conditions. Providing this information can help your legal team strategize effectively to overcome arguments made by opposing parties, who might aim to diminish the validity of your claim. 

Why Do Pre-Existing Conditions Matter in a Personal Injury Claim? 

Pre-existing conditions can complicate personal injury claims because they often raise questions about liability, causation, and the extent of damages, which can influence the amount of compensation you can receive.  

  • Liability: A pre-existing condition may lead to disputes over who is at fault for the injury and whether the current injury would have occurred in the absence of the pre-existing condition. 

  • Causation: Establishing a clear link between the accident and the injury that proves the accident worsened or directly caused new symptoms in a pre-existing condition can be challenging. 

  • Damages: The presence of a pre-existing condition may influence the calculation of damages. For instance, it could be more difficult to assess pain and suffering if the victim's pain is compounded by a pre-existing condition. 

Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions should approach a personal injury claim with thorough preparation, an understanding of their rights, and the support of an experienced personal injury attorney. 

What Do You Need to Demonstrate for a Claim Involving a Pre-Existing Condition? 

To build a strong personal injury claim that deals with a pre-existing condition, you must be able to provide detailed documentation and compelling evidence, specifically: 

  • The effect of the new injury: You will need to provide medical records that clearly illustrate how the accident and new injury affected your pre-existing condition. This may include before-and-after imaging, treatment plans, and the opinion of a medical professional who can support the link between the accident and the pre-existing condition. 

  • The impact on daily life: You must provide detailed accounts of your day-to-day life post-injury that offer context to your level of suffering. Witness testimonies and personal journal entries that articulate changes in your quality of life can be persuasive. 

An experienced attorney will also consider non-economic damages such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminished quality of life as additional avenues for pursuing compensation. 

Illinois Law Regarding Pre-Existing Conditions 

Illinois law recognizes that pre-existing conditions can add to personal injury claims but does not bar recovery for injuries that exacerbate or compound these conditions.  

Under the state's "eggshell plaintiff" rule, individuals are entitled to seek compensation if an accident or incident aggravates a pre-existing condition. This principle is rooted in the theory that the at-fault party takes the victim as they find them.  

In Illinois, claimants must be able to prove that the accident directly worsened their pre-existing condition. This requires medical records, expert testimony, and a detailed account of how the claimant's condition changed post-accident. This is essential to establish the extent of the aggravated condition and to quantify any additional damages or compensation due. 

While Illinois law supports compensation for aggravated pre-existing conditions, the process of proving such claims can be intricate and contested. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help collect and present evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and make sure the claimant's rights are fully protected. 

Steps to File a Personal Injury Claim with a Pre-Existing Condition 

Filing a personal injury claim in Illinois while dealing with a pre-existing condition requires detailed preparation and detailed documentation. We recommend reaching out to an experienced attorney who can walk you through the various steps and make sure each is completed correctly and in line with Illinois law. The key steps you should follow are: 

  1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention: After any incident, seek medical care promptly. This makes sure your injuries are treated and can weigh the impact of your pre-existing condition.  

  1. Collect Comprehensive Medical Records: A fresh medical record can be used as evidence to compare the state of your pre-existing condition before and after the accident. 

  1. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: An attorney experienced in personal injury law can offer strategic advice tailored to your situation and help you through any legal challenges. 

  1. Document Your Experience: Keep a detailed account of your experience post-accident, including your pain levels, difficulties encountered in daily activities, and any additional treatment or medication required. This can provide valuable evidence for your claim. 

  1. File a Claim: With the help of your attorney, file a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations in Illinois is two years from the date of the injury. Make sure you file your claim within this period. 

  1. Disclose Your Pre-Existing Condition: Be transparent about your medical history. Failure to disclose a pre-existing condition can weaken your case. An experienced attorney can help present your condition in a manner that accurately reflects its impact on your claim. 

  1. Prepare for Possible Defense Tactics: Insurance companies often scrutinize claims involving pre-existing conditions more closely. Be prepared for attempts to undermine the severity of your injury or its connection to the incident. Your attorney can help counter these tactics by building a strong evidence-based case. 

By following these steps and working closely with a skilled personal injury attorney, you can effectively address the challenges posed by your medical history and pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve. 

Legal Counsel You Can Trust 

Filing personal injury claims involving pre-existing conditions requires a strategic and detailed approach. Seeking the advice of a knowledgeable attorney, like our attorney at Maritote Law, can help you understand your rights and advocate for fair treatment under the law. 

With a focus on achieving the best possible outcome for every client, our attorney brings over 30 years of experience to personal injury cases throughout Illinois. If you have suffered a personal injury with a pre-existing condition, you can still fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to request a consultation. 

Located in Hanover Park, Illinois, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas, including Cook County, Schaumburg, Bloomingdale, and Rosedale.