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Can Preexisting Conditions Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim in Maryland?

Personal injury claims are common in the legal field, but that does not mean they are simple or straightforward. Personal injury lawsuits often involve complex and difficult variables, including preexisting medical conditions.

A preexisting condition is a medical condition or diagnosis you already had when you were injured. In many cases, preexisting conditions do not have much of an impact on your current injuries and damages. In other cases, your preexisting and new injuries overlap, and untangling them is difficult. Your preexisting conditions are factored into damages. The “eggshell plaintiff rule” holds that defendants must take plaintiffs as they find them, preexisting conditions and all. However, defendants do not have to pay for injuries they did not cause. Preexisting conditions sometimes create confusion among jurors, and your compensation might be at risk. We might need to review your medical records to determine if you have a preexisting condition that could impact your personal injury claims and damages. If they are present in your case, we can take steps to mitigate their effect on your damages.

Get in touch with our Maryland personal injury attorneys for a free review of your claims by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

Will Preexisting Medical Conditions Reduce My Damages in a Maryland Personal Injury Claim?

Many plaintiffs want to know if their preexisting conditions might be a detriment to their current personal injury claims. While it is possible that your preexisting conditions could come up in your lawsuit, they should not reduce your damages or compensation. Many plaintiffs with preexisting conditions that make them more vulnerable to bodily injuries tend to experience more severe damages and can claim greater compensation as a result.

The problem with preexisting conditions is that defendants might argue that your injuries already existed. Often, defendants want to deflect blame for their actions, and they might try to say your preexisting conditions are just a cover and that you did not actually suffer any injuries in the accident at hand.

Defendants should still be held liable for the injuries they did cause. If your preexisting condition made your new injuries worse, the defendant should still be held liable. However, defendants may not be held liable only for injuries they did not cause. For example, defendants are not responsible for injuries solely related to a preexisting condition and not their negligence.

Untangling preexisting conditions from new injuries is where things get complicated. If your preexisting conditions and new injuries overlap or are intertwined, jurors might need clarification about where old injuries end and new ones begin. As such, they might mistakenly reduce your damages.

How Preexisting Medical Conditions Might Impact Your Personal Injury Claims in Maryland

Even if the defendant knows they are responsible for causing your injuries, at least to a certain extent, they might use your preexisting conditions to confuse the jury. Preexisting conditions might create doubt in the minds of jurors. Did the defendant really inflict your injuries, or were they part of your preexisting conditions? These are questions the defense might try to raise with the jury.

This is especially problematic where preexisting conditions and new injuries overlap. For example, it might be difficult, but not impossible, to sue for pain and suffering when you have a preexisting chronic pain condition. How can you tell what pain is from your preexisting injury and what pain is from new injuries inflicted by the defendant? If your new injuries make preexisting conditions like pain even worse, the defendant might actually be liable for even more damages for pain and suffering.

Your preexisting conditions might require us to have more extensive evidence regarding your injuries and medical conditions, both past and current. If you got medical treatment after you were injured, we need records of your treatment to establish the extent of your injuries. If you also have preexisting conditions that overlap with your new injuries, we might need more records of your medical history so we can understand your preexisting conditions. Our Mount Airy, MD personal injury lawyers are here to help.

How Do I Know if I Have Any Preexisting Conditions Before a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland?

It is not uncommon for people to not fully realize they have a preexisting medical condition or that their condition might affect their injuries and damages in their lawsuit. Many people might have preexisting conditions that are dormant or in remission, but the defendant can still use them to sow seeds of doubt in the jury.

We absolutely need your medical records. Records about the medical care you received after the accident. We also need any medical records pertaining to preexisting medical conditions. This might involve a thorough review of your entire medical history, depending on what kind of preexisting conditions you have.

On top of that, we might need medical experts to review your records and determine whether your preexisting conditions and new injuries are entangled with each other. In some cases, the entanglement is obvious. If you hurt your back in a car accident and have a history of back problems, your preexisting conditions might be a complication.

How to Mitigate the Effects of Preexisting Conditions in a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland

Remember, at the end of the day, preexisting conditions might be complicated to sort out, but they should not reduce the damages available in your case. The defendant should be held liable for the pain, losses, and harm they have caused. If it becomes difficult to separate the harm they cause from harm that already existed, we might need to mitigate their arguments to reduce damages.

Do your preexisting conditions and your current injuries overlap at all? You could have asthma as a preexisting condition, but your injuries might not affect your lungs or respiratory system. If that is the case, we might easily dismiss the defendant’s arguments that damages should be reduced.

If they overlap, can they be neatly separated? For example, maybe you already had a broken leg, and your leg was rebroken during the accident. This time around, the break might be far worse. Was the break worse because you have a history of broken bones, or was the accident serious enough to cause a more severe break?

An effective way to mitigate the risk posed by preexisting conditions is to have a doctor testify as a medical expert. We can tell the jury that your preexisting condition does not reduce the defendant’s liability, but hearing it from a doctor might be far more convincing.

Contact Our Maryland Personal Injury Attorneys for Help

Reach out to our Ocean City, MD personal injury attorneys for a free evaluation of your injuries and claims by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.