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Have A Pre-Existing Condition? Don't Let It Stop You From Filing A Personal Injury Claim

Many people who get injured in accidents already have some sort of preexisting condition, like arthritis or old back injuries. That doesn't automatically spell death for your personal injury claim. Learn more about how to handle the situation.

Go over the situation with your attorney.

Make it a point to discuss the issue with your attorney early on. You want to make a full disclosure to your attorney about any prior medical problems or degenerative conditions that you have because the defense attorney will eventually uncover it. This gives your attorney time to prepare a response for any allegation that your injuries are actually a manifestation of your other medical problems.

See your own physician.

You may be forced into a situation where you have to see a variety of medical professionals due to your injuries — neurologists, therapists, or chiropractors. You may also have expert medical witnesses testifying in your case, which is fine and may even be necessary. However, jurors realize that medical experts are being paid for their testimony and know in advance that they're likely to testify favorably for the side that's putting them on the stand.

On the other hand, your regular treating physician knew you before the injury and has a relationship with you that's independent of your litigation. That could make his or her word more trustworthy for the jury to hear.

Your regular physician also has the clearest picture of your health prior to the injuries and after. Making sure that your injuries are documented in his or her records can go a long way toward showing that there is a relationship between the accident and your current condition.

Consider opting for a bench trial.

There are important considerations when it comes to preexisting conditions and accidents. Under the law, your increased susceptibility to a serious injury shouldn't affect the amount of damages to which you're entitled. This is sometimes called the "eggshell skull" rule and is also referred to as the "you take your victim as you find him" rule. The law also allows people who have a preexisting condition to recover damages when an accident aggravates or worsens that condition.

However, juries can be somewhat more skeptical than judges. Research indicates that if a personal injury suit goes to trial, judges tend to be slightly more inclined to find on behalf of a plaintiff than juries. That could be because judges are less suspicious that plaintiffs are simply "lawsuit happy" or it could be because they understand how the law regards preexisting conditions—which means that they don't get misled when it is brought up at trial.

Don't assume that a preexisting condition will stop you from recovering for your injuries. Talk to an attorney like one from Owen Law Firm instead.