Can I Be Compensated For Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident?

By Greg Kohn

Yes, you can be compensated for pre-existing conditions after a car accident if the collision aggravated or worsened the underlying medical condition. The challenge is proving that the crash made the pre-existing condition worse. You cannot get money damages for the underlying condition itself, but if you can meet the burden of proof, it is possible to recover money for the difference in the severity of the condition.

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you and answer your questions about whether you can be compensated for pre-existing conditions after a car accident.

You Will Have to Prove Your Current Injuries

We assume that you already got prompt medical attention right after your recent car accident. If you did not get medical treatment yet, you should do so at once. The defendant will argue that something else, not the collision, caused your injuries if you delayed in obtaining medical care.

Your medical records will help to connect the recent injuries with the car accident. We will have to show the judge how severe your current injuries are and how they impact your life.

Then You Establish the Level of Your Previous Medical Condition

You will need to provide as much medical evidence as possible to document how bad your pre-existing condition was before the accident. Think of that level as the baseline. The defendant will try to avoid liability by saying that your pre-existing condition is no worse than it was before and that you are trying to get compensation for a problem you already had.

Let’s say that you experienced a concussion when playing sports in high school. You had occasional headaches after the concussion. Now in your thirties, you suffered a traumatic brain injury from a skull fracture in a recent car crash. You currently experience excruciating headaches that cause blackouts, and you have short-term memory loss and slurred speech because of the recent head injury. 

You will have to show through medical evidence how severe your pre-existing medical condition was before the recent collision. The judge needs to get convinced that you are only seeking compensation for the amount of damage that the recent car accident did and not for the underlying symptoms you already had.

You Will Need to Quantify the Difference Between Your Pre-Existing Medical Condition and Your Current Health Status by Comparison

You will have to prove to the judge that your condition is worse than it was before. The judge will, in essence, take the current severity of impairment and subtract the previous level of symptoms to arrive at an estimate of how much harm the defendant did to you.

Injuries Are Highly Individual

The defendant will be liable for the entire amount of harm you suffered from the recent car accident, even if you got hurt much worse because of your pre-existing condition than someone else might have been. There is a saying in the legal field that you take your plaintiff as you find them. In other words, even if someone has an “eggshell skull” that shatters from a mild blow that would have caused little or no damage to the average person, the defendant is responsible for the actual harm done to the injured person. 

A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you and help you go after the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact our office today to set up a consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.