A pre-existing condition is a medical condition or injury that existed before the accident or event that led to the personal injury claim. The presence of a pre-existing condition can have an impact on the claim, but it does not necessarily prevent an individual from recovering damages. Some common pre-existing conditions include: neck and back conditions from bad posture or workplace injuries, depression, anxiety, and other chronic mental health conditions.
Here are some considerations regarding pre-existing conditions in personal injury cases in Texas:
- “Eggshell Plaintiff” Doctrine: Texas follows the “eggshell plaintiff” or “take your plaintiff as you find him” doctrine. This means that a defendant is responsible for the full extent of a plaintiff’s injuries, even if the injuries are more severe than they would have been due to the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition.
- Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: If an accident aggravates or worsens a pre-existing condition, the defendant can be held responsible for the additional harm caused. The key is determining the difference between the plaintiff’s condition before and after the accident. It is important to differentiate any new injuries from the previous ones.
- Disclosure: In most cases, an individual claiming injury should disclose any pre-existing conditions during the discovery phase of litigation. If a plaintiff tries to hide a pre-existing condition, it can potentially ruin their credibility.
- Medical Expert Testimony: To distinguish between injuries caused by the accident and those stemming from a pre-existing condition, medical expert testimony can prove to be very helpful. Experts can provide opinions on the extent to which an accident exacerbated a pre-existing condition.
- Reduction in Damages: Even if a plaintiff has a pre-existing condition, they can still recover damages. The damages might be reduced though if it is determined that some of the harm was due to the pre-existing condition, rather than the accident. The focus is typically on the increased or aggravated harm caused by the defendant’s negligence. Using lay witnesses to testify on the plaintiff’s health before and after the accident can be helpful in establishing why damages should not be reduced.
- Defendant’s Strategy: Defendants often use pre-existing conditions to challenge the causation and damages elements of a plaintiff’s claim. They may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were solely due to the pre-existing condition and not the accident. Medical records might be important to uncover to determine the extent of the pre-existing condition and how it can affect the current damages being claimed. This is why it is essential for plaintiffs to have solid evidence and expert testimony to support their claims.
Damages That Can Potentially Be Recovered
As long as you made an effort to mitigate your injuries by seeking medical attention following the accident, you could be eligible for financial compensation. Some damages you may be entitled to recover include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Medical equipment or home care
- Lost wages or earning potential
- Disability or disfigurement
These are only a few examples of the damages you may be eligible to collect. Your attorney will work with you to determine the damages you are entitled to recover and ensure that you are compensated fairly.
It is essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney when dealing with complex issues like pre-existing conditions in accident cases. Our legal team has the resources to thoroughly investigate your claim and develop an effective strategy on your behalf, all while protecting your rights. Contact Ceja Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your case.