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Austin Personal Injury Blog

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pre-existing Conditions and Your Car Accident Case

Will a pre-existing condition affect my car accident case?

Insurance companies have a vested interest in paying out as little as possible for your claim. Following a car accident in Texas, the insurer of the at-fault driver will look for ways to deny or minimize your claim, which could include attempting to prove your injuries were not in fact caused by the accident. A common tactic is to allege that your injuries in fact stem from a pre-existing condition.

The Eggshell Principle

Texas law requires that the accident victim prove that the defendant is responsible for injuries sustained during the accident. This generally requires proof that the defendant had a duty toward the victim to exercise a certain degree of care; that the defendant failed this duty by behaving negligently; and the lack of care directly caused the victim’s injuries.

Texas has adopted a principle known as the “eggshell” principle. Per the law, Texas plaintiffs cannot be penalized for being injured or in a weakened state at the time of the accident. So-called thin skinned plaintiffs can still recover from the defendant for the increase in pre-existing injuries and medical expenses sustained due to the worsening injuries.

Per the eggshell doctrine, the insurer cannot blame your pre-existing condition for the harms you suffered in the crash. The plaintiff may need to demonstrate that the pre-existing condition was stable and would not have worsened if not for the accident. Common pre-existing conditions that may be worsened by a car crash include old brain injuries, disc disease, previously broken bones, arthritis, back injuries, and more.

Pursuing Compensation With a Pre-existing Condition

You will need to disclose any pre-existing conditions to your attorney and the opposing legal counsel. The defense may attempt to use evidence of your condition to limit your recovery; however, you can defend against such allegations by bringing in detailed medical records and information as to your condition. Your medical records should substantiate that your preexisting condition did not cause your current injuries; rather, the accident worsen your condition. Your attorney will ensure the insurer receives only the medical records to which it is entitled. With experienced personal injury legal counsel, your pre-existing condition should not negatively impact your car accident case.


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