The Effect of  Pre-existing Conditions On A Personal Injury Case

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

If you wish to pursue a personal injury claim in Texas, the action would center around the claim that the person or entity that is responsible for your injury should compensate you for the harm that was done. This is whether the action arises from a car accident, a slip and fall, medical malpractice, or various other types of claims. However, if you happen to have had a pre-existing condition before the incident occurred, the defendant might argue that your current pain or disability is due more to your previous condition than the incident in question. This is their way of trying to reduce the amount they owe you in damages. As a result, pre-existing conditions can complicate a personal injury case, but it should not disqualify you from seeking compensation. The strategy to employ is to clearly demonstrate the connection between the incident and how it made your pre-existing condition worse.

Here are some factors to consider as to how pre-existing conditions can impact a personal injury case in Texas:

  • Disclosure: It is important to disclose any pre-existing conditions during a personal injury case. If you fail to disclose these conditions and they are later discovered, it could severely undermine your credibility and the strength of your case.
  • The Eggshell Plaintiff Rule: Texas, like many other states, follows the “eggshell plaintiff” doctrine. This rule sets out that basically, a defendant takes a plaintiff as they find them. If a plaintiff has a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to injury, the defendant is still responsible for all damages that are a direct result of the accident, even if the injuries are more severe than they would have been if the plaintiff did not have the pre-existing condition.
  • Aggravation of Pre-Existing Conditions: If the accident aggravates a pre-existing condition, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for the additional harm caused. However, the plaintiff would need to prove that the accident worsened the condition and did not merely coincide with its natural progression.
  • Causation Challenges: The defendant may argue that the current injuries claimed by the victim are not the result of the accident, but rather due to pre-existing conditions. This can complicate the plaintiff’s ability to prove that the defendant’s actions caused the new or aggravated injuries.
  • Compensation Calculation: Determining the compensation for an injury that involves a pre-existing condition can be difficult. The damages awarded will need to reflect the additional harm or exacerbation caused by the accident, not the baseline level of pain or disability that the plaintiff would have experienced anyway due to the pre-existing condition.
  • Medical Records and Expert Testimony:  Medical records and expert testimony become very important in cases involving pre-existing conditions. Medical experts may need to establish the extent to which the accident affected the pre-existing condition, and separate the old injuries from the new.
  • Insurance Company Scrutiny: Insurance companies may closely scrutinize claims that involve pre-existing conditions. They often have medical experts who will review the plaintiff’s medical history to argue that the injury claimed was pre-existing and not caused by the accident.
  • Limitations and Exclusions: In some cases, insurance policies may have limitations or exclusions related to pre-existing conditions. This could affect the amount that the insurance company is willing to pay out.

Takeaway

Due to the complex nature of these types of claims, individuals with pre-existing conditions who are involved in personal injury cases in Texas should hire an experienced personal injury attorney to navigate the specifics of their situation. Ceja Law Firm, PLLC can help differentiate between injuries caused by the accident and the pre-existing condition, and advocate to make sure that you receive the appropriate compensation. Get in touch with our office today.

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.