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How Do Pre-Existing Medical Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Claim?

Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney March 28, 2023

Dealing with personal injury claims can become an overwhelming experience. When pre-existing conditions are added to the mix, the process can become even more challenging to navigate. That is why accident victims must become familiar with how their pre-existing conditions may affect their personal injury claims.  

At Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney, our reliable personal injury attorneys strive to protect clients’ rights to fair compensation when filing a personal injury claim. We proudly serve the West Chester, Pennsylvania community with their personal injury claims. 

What Are Pre-Existing Medical Conditions? 

Pre-existing medical conditions affect roughly 1 in 5 non-elderly Americans. That figure is about 25 million Americans that must deal with conditions ranging from diabetes to heart issues. These conditions may play a significant role when assessing a personal injury claim following an accident.  

Please note that pre-existing medical conditions are any health conditions or illnesses a person had prior to seeking medical treatment after an accident. These conditions can include chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, as well as acute conditions, such as recent surgery or injury.  

Pre-existing medical conditions can affect a person’s access to health care, as well as the cost and availability of health insurance. Insurance companies may sometimes deny coverage or charge higher premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions. This denial by insurance companies can extend to personal injury claims.  

Pre-existing medical conditions can include a wide range of health conditions or illnesses a person has prior to seeking medical treatment. Here are some examples of pre-existing medical conditions:  

  • Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, or high blood pressure. 

  • Degenerative disc issues in spines.

  • Mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. 

  • Neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis.  

  • Cancer or a history of cancer. 

  • Kidney disease or liver disease.  

  • Sleep apnea or other respiratory conditions.  

  • Joint or musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis or back pain.  

  • Digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  

It is worth noting that the definition and scope of pre-existing conditions can vary depending on the insurance company’s policies and the individual’s health history. Therefore, understanding the prevalence of pre-existing conditions is crucial when filing a personal injury claim. 

How Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Pennsylvania? 

A common question we get from clients is, “How does a pre-existing condition affect my injury claim?” Please note the following:  

In Pennsylvania, a pre-existing medical condition can affect a personal injury claim in several ways. Generally, a pre-existing condition may make it more challenging to establish causation and prove damages related to the new injury or accident.  

For example, if an individual has a pre-existing back injury and is then involved in a car accident that aggravates their condition, it may be difficult to determine how much of their current pain and limitations are directly attributable to the accident. The defense may argue that the individual’s pre-existing condition was the primary cause of their injuries rather than the accident. 

An “Eggshell Plaintiff” in Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvania law recognizes the “eggshell plaintiff” rule, which means that a defendant is responsible for all damages resulting from an accident, even if the plaintiff is more vulnerable or susceptible to injury due to a pre-existing condition. Therefore, even if an individual has a pre-existing condition, they may still be entitled to compensation for damages proven to be directly related to the accident.  

Protect Your Health and Your Right to a Claim 

At Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney, we believe that all accident victims have the right to fair compensation. Contact our team today to speak with a compassionate personal injury attorney who can work with you every step of the way. We proudly serve clients in West Chester, Pennsylvania.