Man speaking with female doctor about medical conditions

Do Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Case?

Yes, pre-existing conditions can affect a personal injury case. Anticipate that opposing parties may argue the injury sustained was due to the pre-existing condition rather than the accident. However, if an accident makes a pre-existing condition worse, also known as “exacerbating it,” one may still be able to obtain compensation. A seasoned car accident attorney can help with obtaining the proper documentation and expert testimony that can clarify the impact of the accident on your health.

What Exactly is a Pre-existing Condition?

A pre-existing medical condition refers to a previous injury or disease that could make you more predisposed to being injured in an accident. Examples of pre-existing conditions from previous injuries could include broken bones, back injuries, or brain injuries. Pre-existing conditions that weren’t caused by injuries could include herniated discs, arthritis, diabetes, and cardiac disease.

A very common example of a pre-existing injury is a herniated disc. People can often have them without experiencing pain or discomfort. However, after a jarring collision, a herniated disc can become painful and problematic. Symptoms, which can range from shooting pain in the extremities to numbness and weakness, may prevent you from working or enjoying the active parts of your life. In addition, nerve damage from herniated discs can make sitting or standing for long periods painful. 

How are Pre-existing Conditions Viewed in Illinois?

If you’ve been injured in an accident, Illinois law says you can receive compensation for the aggravation or worsening of a pre-existing injury.  The law also states that a person is responsible for compensating an injured person only for the injuries he or she caused. So there exists some tension between the two principles. The at-fault party should be held liable for their negligent actions even if the injured party had a preexisting condition. But, the at-fault party shouldn’t be liable for injuries their actions didn’t cause. Who decides? In Illinois, the court system will flesh out which principle should apply. 

Your lawyer’s goal will be to convince the jury you are suffering from an exacerbation of your pre-existing condition caused by a car accident. It is essential for them to show the jury that you are worse off after the accident than before the accident. 

How to Prove Exacerbation of Injuries

Expert witnesses can be an important factor in proving the exacerbation of injuries. Experts such as doctors, accident reconstructions, and biomechanics can demonstrate to the jury how the crash happened, how your body reacted to the collision, and the nature and extent of your injuries.

Specifically, a doctor can testify as an expert that your pre-existing condition is now worse post-accident. Maybe the injury you had before has become chronic or permanent after the accident. They can explain the amount of pain you will experience and the medical treatments necessary because the accident made your condition worse. For example, if before the accident you managed your condition through medication but post-accident, you might need surgery to repair the damage caused. 

Call a Chicago Car Accident Attorney for Help

If you were injured in an accident that exacerbated pre-existing conditions, you may have a lot of questions about how to proceed with a legal claim. The experienced car accident attorneys at Stein & Shulman, LLC will help you navigate the insurance process and present your case in court if necessary. Contact us today.