When you’ve been involved in an accident and have sustained injuries, insurance companies and defense attorneys will almost always look for ways to argue that some of your damages are not eligible for compensation. One of the ways they try to do this is by examining your medical records and searching for pre-existing medical conditions or injuries in your medical history. Although an injured person is not entitled to payment for injuries and conditions that were there before the accident, an injured person is entitled to pre-existing injuries and conditions that are made worse because of the accident. This is known as exacerbation or aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
You should never feel discouraged or afraid to pursue compensation from an accident just because you have prior injuries or health conditions. The majority of people over the age of 35 will show signs of some degeneration in their body as part of the normal aging process. For example, degenerative disc disease is a common condition that comes with age. Although the diagnosis may sound scary, it’s actually quite normal. Insurance companies love to use terms like “degeneration” as a basis to deny or reduce your damages; however, if you are honest with your attorney at the outset, we can help protect you against these types of arguments and get you the compensation you deserve.
Being Honest with your Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney
The best way to protect yourself if you have pre-existing medical conditions or injuries is to be open and truthful with your attorney about these conditions at your initial consultation. By being transparent about your past medical history, you put yourself in the best position possible for a successful case. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will have access to a lot more information than you realize. If you have a past medical condition or injury, they will find out about it! Remember to hold nothing back when discussing these issues with your attorney and let your attorney decide how to handle the information. If you fail to adequately disclose these conditions in the beginning, you are setting yourself up for a whole host of problems including damaging your credibility, jeopardizing your entire case, and even exposing you to legal action.
The Eggshell Plaintiff Theory
One important legal theory that relates to pre-existing conditions is known as the “Eggshell Plaintiff” theory, and it is applied to all personal injury claims in Nevada. This concept is illustrated by an imaginary case in which the driver has a skull as thin as an eggshell. Obviously, this condition would leave them extremely susceptible to injury, more so than the average person. If this same driver is involved in an accident which is not their fault, according to the “Eggshell” rule, the at-fault driver would be liable for all damages that stem from the accident. This is true even though the plaintiff’s condition was more severe than the average person, resulted in more serious injuries, and even though the defendant had no idea about the driver’s condition. In other words, the relative frailty of an injured person is not a valid defense to the claim. If that case went to trial, Nevada law requires juries to consider the injured person as the defendant found them.
The most important takeaway is that having a pre-existing condition does not prevent you from recovering in an accident. Your pre-existing condition may make you more susceptible to injury, but that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to less compensation. As long as you’re up-front with your attorney about your past medical history, we can help get you the outcome you deserve, regardless of your health before the accident. If you or anyone you know is injured in an accident, please call our office today at (702) 380-2800 to schedule your free consultation with one of our highly experienced attorneys.