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Can a Pre-Existing Injury Affect My Personal Injury Claim?

If you get injured in an accident in Colorado as someone with a pre-existing injury or medical condition, you need to know how this might affect your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. The defendant (accused party) may try to argue that your new injury was pre-existing and did not arise from your recent accident. An injury attorney from Cannon Law can help you navigate this unique situation in Fort Collins.

Pre-Existing Injuries and Tort Claims

A pre-existing injury or medical condition does not preclude you from recovering financial compensation after a car accident, slip and fall, or another harmful accident in Colorado. The state abides by a legal doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule, or thin skull rule, which holds defendants liable (financially responsible) for the plaintiff’s “unforeseeable and uncommon reactions to the defendant’s negligent or intentional tort.”

Under this doctrine, a defendant can be held liable for the full extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and losses that were caused by the defendant’s failure to use ordinary care, regardless of the existence of any pre-existing injuries. Defendants must take plaintiffs as-is at the time of the incident, even if this includes a pre-existing condition that makes the plaintiff more prone to severe injuries than the average person.

Having a pre-existing injury will not bar you from seeking financial compensation from the person or party that caused your accident. Even if your pre-existing injury caused or aggravated your current condition, the defendant will still be held responsible for damage caused by his or her actions. However, a pre-existing injury may complicate the recovery process.

How a Pre-Existing Injury Might Impact Your Case

During an injury claim, an insurance company will not be on your side. It will look for all possible ways to limit your financial recovery to save money on your payout. This may include using pre-existing injuries or medical conditions against you.

For example, the insurer may try to argue that the injuries on your new claim were pre-existing and caused by something that occurred before the accident. It will be up to you or your personal injury lawyer to prove otherwise, such as by providing medical documentation and hiring a medical expert to prove the connection between your injuries and the accident.

Another potential complication that may arise is having to prove that an accident exacerbated your pre-existing injury to qualify for compensation for this particular damage. Your lawyer can help you prove the increased harm to a pre-existing injury that you suffered because of the new incident.

Apportionment of Damages

Apportionment of damages refers to a jury’s ability to designate a certain amount of damages to the victim’s pre-existing injury as well as to the damages caused by the defendant. In a case that involves apportionment, the defendant may not be found liable for 100 percent of your damages. Instead, he or she will be responsible for compensating you only for the damages caused by the new incident.

What to Do if You Have a Pre-Existing Injury During a New Injury Claim

Do not lie to an insurance company about having a pre-existing injury during the claims process. It is important to be honest about disclosing pre-existing conditions, even if you feel they are not relevant to your case. Otherwise, the insurance company may accuse you of misrepresenting the facts of the case.

Contact a Fort Collins personal injury attorney about your claim for assistance. A lawyer can help you communicate about your pre-existing injury with an insurance claims adjuster without compromising your ability to recover fair compensation from a defendant. An attorney can gather medical records, expert testimony and other evidence to support your claim while you focus on healing.