If you suffer a catastrophic injury in a car accident, you might run into trouble from the at-fault party’s insurance company when they discover that your new injuries have aggravated a preexisting condition. While you will not be able to collect damages for a medical condition that existed prior to the current accident, you can collect damages if the present accident has caused worsening damage. But it is vitally important that you proceed carefully in cases involving preexisting injuries because depending on how the opposing insurance company finds out about them, they could have a positive or negative impact on your settlement.
The eggshell plaintiff doctrine
The eggshell plaintiff doctrine is a legal principle within the realm of torts in common law. The crux of it is that the defendant must take the victim as he or she finds them – preexisting injury or not. If the injured person is more delicate or prone to injury than the average person, this does not diminish the defendant’s liability for the damages that their negligent actions caused. So, even if the injured party dies from his or her injuries in an accident where another person might have survived with less severe injuries, the surviving relatives of the victim may still file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the defendant breached the established duty of care, they are responsible for the damages that result from that breach regardless of the condition of the plaintiff at the time of the incident.
The plaintiff must make a full disclosure of his or her injuries
When you have been injured in an auto accident and it aggravates an old injury from another incident, it is vital that those preexisting injuries be disclosed, especially if they are in the same area of the body that became injured in the current accident.
If you fail to disclose the previous injury, and the opposing counsel finds out about it, it can diminish your credibility and the value of your claim. Make sure that your attorney has all of the information about your preexisting injury as well as the current injury. Hiding information that can be unearthed in your medical records will only lead to bombshells later that will not be welcome news when your attorney learns something about your health condition from the other side.
Because defense attorneys and insurance companies use evidence of preexisting medical conditions to try to diminish injury claims and damage the credibility of injured claimants, it is important, if you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident and have a preexisting medical condition, that you seek the advice and counsel of a Stipe Law Firm attorney as soon as you are able to do so. They are ready and available to guide you through this process. Also, talk with your doctor about the need for clarification in the medical report about how the current accident caused your current injuries, how the new injury is affecting the old injury, and clearly delineate how the current accident caused the new injuries.
Stipe Law Firm is the name Oklahomans trust when they have been seriously injured in an auto accident or any other injury caused by the negligence of another. To schedule your consultation with an experienced Oklahoma auto accident attorney, please contact our McAlester office at (918) 505-7741, or use our contact form. We are proud to uphold the rights of clients throughout the Southeast region of Oklahoma.