Will a Pre-existing Condition
Hurt My Car Accident Injury Case?

Will a Pre-existing Condition Hurt My Car Accident Injury Case?

What if you’re in a car accident, but you already have a pre-existing condition like a back injury or heart condition? You might wonder if your existing injury will harm a new case.

The truth is, pre-existing conditions can have a positive OR negative impact on a new car accident case. It depends on a variety of factors, including how well you can prove the extent of your new injuries vs. your previous condition and how skillfully you and your lawyer can cite previous case law that supports compensation for victims with pre-existing conditions.

Continue Medical Check-ups With Pre-existing Conditions

First, we’d like to point out that documentation is crucial in these situations. You’ll need to provide thorough background information for your previous condition as well as your treatment for the injuries you sustained in the car accident.

The five most common non-traumatic pre-existing conditions in the U.S. are arthritis, asthma, high cholesterol, hypertension, and obesity. Some of the most common car trauma-related conditions are soft tissue injuries, back injuries, neck problems, knee trauma, organ damage, and broken bones.

Do you have documentation supporting your pre-existing condition? Work with your lawyer to gather your medical records and, if necessary, testimony from your medical care provider. Your lawyer and doctor can help you pinpoint injuries that were exclusively caused by the accident, plus those that worsened by the accident or are entirely new.

Continue with your treatment as directed and don’t miss any doctor’s appointments. It’s now more important than ever that you have a well-documented medical history. An insurance company will look for any possible reason to deny your claim.

Don’t Be Tempted to Hide a Pre-existing Condition

You may be wondering whether it would just be better to avoid mentioning your pre-existing condition. Be honest! Talk to your lawyer about your medical history and don’t try to hide your condition.

Otherwise, if you cover it up and your cover-up is discovered later, your claim could be denied. You could even face criminal consequences for making false statements in a legal situation. It’s just not worth it.

There’s no need to shy away from a personal injury case just because you have a pre-existing condition. It’s definitely not a deal-breaker. Let’s take a look at some previous case law that may support your claim for compensation with a pre-existing condition.

Here’s What California Law Says About Pre-existing Conditions

Even if your injury was not solely caused by the accident, you still may be able to claim the full amount of compensation in your personal injury case. Further, any injuries you received in the accident could significantly contribute to your ultimate condition.

Let’s say you were functioning normally before the accident and only experienced occasional pain, but after the accident you feel constant pain. Clearly, the injuries you received in the accident can be argued to be the cause of your overall physical state.

Under CACI No. 430, for someone to be liable for your damages, the accident must simply be "a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm. It must be more than a remote or trivial factor. It does not have to be the only cause of the harm.”

Accordingly, in order to establish causation between the other party’s conduct and your injury, the “but for” test is utilized under the restatement torts in CACI No. 432. This means “but for” the other person’s conduct, your injury would not have occurred. This was shown in Mitchell v. Gonzales.

Therefore, the fact that you may have had a preexisting condition does not negate your claim. The accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence may have aggravated your condition, requiring you to receive additional or extensive medical treatment. Had the third party not caused the accident, you would not have needed additional treatment, and your pre-existing injury would have stabilized rather than been exacerbated.

The other person may be found entirely liable for the full extent your injuries, even if you have an unusual pre-existing condition that made you particularly vulnerable to injury. Pursuant to the "thin skull" or "eggshell" plaintiff theories of liability, "The at-fault party takes the person he injures ‘as he finds him’ and is not exonerated from liability,” as supported by Rideau v. Los Angeles Transit Lines.

Furthermore, Smith v. Schumacker confirmed that, “the rule is recognized in all jurisdictions that an accident which aggravates a preexisting disease may constitute a cause of action for damages. In such a case plaintiff may recover all damages for such aggravation.” Under CACI No. 3928, even if the person was more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person would have been, and even if a normally healthy person would not have suffered similar injury, full damages may be awarded.

If They Blame Your Pre-existing Condition, Don’t Back Down

At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we helped a motorcyclist stand up to the insurance company when they tried to deny his claim due to a pre-existing condition. The young man’s legs were severely injured when another driver turned left across his right-of-way and knocked him off his motorcycle.

First, the insurance company tried to dispute liability, then they tried to blame the motorcyclist for his own injuries. When that didn’t work, they attempted to get out of paying by making a big deal about a previous leg injury the man had.

Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers didn’t back down and boldly challenged the insurance company. We won a decision reversal that ultimately placed 0% of the blame on the motorcyclist and helped him secure a $100,000 settlement.

As you can see, when you and your attorney handle things the right way, you can receive a high level of compensation for a car accident. Put money in your pocket while getting your bills paid and securing the resources you need to recover from your injuries.


Dan C.

"Breaking three ribs and a collarbone sucks. Luckily, I found Sally to help take a bit of the edge off. I have never sued anyone before, but Sally made it as painless as possible. It took nearly three years and there is a lot that I could say about the process, but suffice it to say that you're in good hands. If you need a personal injury attorney, choose Sally. She's there to privately enforce those public laws (i.e. prevent evil corporations from taking advantage of you)."

Experience a serious car accident in California?

Check out our Car Accident Page to learn more about how the process works.

We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

We Continue to Stay Open and Operate During the Shelter in Place Order - Learn More