Will a Pre-existing Condition Hinder a Personal Injury Lawsuit in California?

-Posted On December 13, 2021 In Personal Injuries-

Millions of Americans live with a pre-existing condition, or an injury or illness that exists prior to a certain event. Common types of pre-existing conditions include back problems, previous brain injuries, and chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

If you have a pre-existing condition and are involved in an accident, your injury or illness could complicate your ability to recover compensation. In these situations, it is important to speak with a personal injury lawyer and learn about your rights during an injury lawsuit.

You Can Only Recover for Accident-Related Damages

California residents have the right to file a lawsuit if they are injured by someone else in an accident. You can file a claim if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, a slip and fall on someone else’s property, or even when you are attacked by someone else’s animal.

Through your lawsuit, you can recover compensatory damages for the economic and non-economic losses that you sustained, such as the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings and benefits
  • Property damage
  • Disability accommodations
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Loss of quality of life

Pre-existing conditions can complicate your ability to recover damages. You are only allowed to collect compensation for the losses that you can attribute directly to the accident—not your pre-existing condition. You can recover compensation for the extent that the accident aggravated your injury or illness.

This factor can make it difficult to calculate your potential settlement. You will need to carefully determine whether a certain loss was caused by the accident or is a result of your existing condition. A California personal injury lawyer can help you calculate your potential settlement and gather the evidence you need to support your right to compensation.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

A common tactic that defense attorneys use is to claim that a pre-existing condition removes the defendant’s liability for the accident. The lawyer may state that, if you had been in a healthy state prior to the accident, you would not have suffered the injuries that you did. However, California courts prohibit this type of defense.

A legal doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule states that defendants are liable for the full extent of plaintiffs’ damages, regardless of pre-existing conditions. If a person with a skull as fragile as an eggshell was involved in a car accident and suffered severe injuries, the at-fault driver would still be liable for those losses.

If a defense attorney tries to use this tactic, it is important to have a lawyer on your side. An attorney can defend you against these accusations and deploy the eggshell plaintiff rule as a way to support your claim.

What to Do After an Accident in California

If you are involved in an unexpected accident, stay calm and seek help. Call 911 and report the accident to law enforcement. If possible, document evidence at the scene by speaking to witnesses, taking photographs, and collecting physical evidence.

It is also important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Your medical records will help establish how the accident has aggravated your pre-existing condition, which you can use to protect your right to compensation. After receiving medical attention, contact a California personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and strategize your next steps.

Awards & Recognitions
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image
award item image