If you experience injuries after a car accident such as back pain, whiplash, or a brain injury, it can be easy to blame it on a condition you already have. Many people with a history of concussions or other significant injuries assume they are ineligible to pursue a claim for their injuries after a car accident. Even most accident victims with preexisting conditions who do pursue legal action—without legal representation—can be given false information by their insurance company regarding their avenues for pursuing compensation.
If you were living with a condition before your accident occured, it can make it more challenging to have a successful claim. However, it is important to know your rights under California law and the avenues you can take to seek compensation for any new injuries or the worsening of your existing condition. If you sustained injuries from a car accident in California and have a preexisting condition, it is imperative to consult a skilled California personal injury lawyer. Here is some valuable information about preexisting conditions and determining damages in California.
Preexisting Conditions Worsened by a Car Accident
Under California law, accident victims are not allowed to recover damages from any physical or emotional condition that they had before the accident. That being said, if a victim’s preexisting condition was worsened by the accident, they can be awarded damages to compensate for the increase in pain.
In these cases, you must be able to prove that your preexisting condition was directly worsened by the accident in question. To prove this, you will likely need to get an assessment and opinion from a medical expert.
California’s Eggshell-Plaintiff Doctrine
Another avenue for gaining compensation with a preexisting condition is taking advantage of California’s eggshell-plaintiff doctrine. Designed to protect the rights of a plaintiff whose preexisting condition makes them more susceptible to injury than a normal person, this doctrine establishes that the defense in a car accident case must “take” an injured plaintiff as they are.
In short, if a plaintiff’s preexisting condition causes them to incur additional injuries, the defendant is not free from liability. In cases where preexisting conditions are involved, defendants will almost always use the plaintiff’s existing condition as a way to avoid any responsibility, which is why California law recognizes that they must be held responsible. In eggshell-plaintiff cases, you will still need to provide evidence that supports the claim your condition was worsened by the accident. A California auto accident attorney can boost your chances of success.
Evidence and Supporting Documentation in Preexisting Condition Cases
In order to win a claim with a preexisting condition, you’ll need to provide evidence and supporting documentation that your condition was worsened as a direct cause of the accident. Since these cases can be relatively complicated, the best way to ensure you have all the support you need for your claim is to work with a lawyer. Evidence a personal injury lawyer may use to defend your case includes:
- Witness statements. Statements from friends, family, and your regular physician will all be used to assert that your condition changed as a result of the accident.
- Medical records. Gathering records from your previous injury that outline the timeline of the injury and the associated symptoms and treatments will be used to show that the accident worsened your pain.
- Insurance forms. The insurance company will ask you to sign a medical record and bill release. If you sign this form, it should only provide access to your information from a limited time frame.
When you work with a skilled California personal injury lawyer, they will look at all the factors surrounding your case and determine the best strategy specific to your situation.
Contact a Trusted Car Accident Lawyer in California
At Setareh Law, we are dedicated to representing plaintiffs with car accident claims across California. With over ten years of experience serving car accident victims, we have a proven track record of getting our clients the justice they deserve. We understand the complexities of cases involving preexisting conditions and know the best strategies for ensuring our clients are properly compensated. To schedule a free consultation with one of our trusted attorneys, complete an online contact form or call today at (310) 659-1826.