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Personal injury damages–impact of pre-existing conditions


In personal injury cases, there are times where an injured party had a pre-existing condition that was made worse by a new accident. Because of the prior condition, the plaintiff’s injuries are more severe than they would have been had the plaintiff not had the pre-existing condition.

Suppose that you are rear-ended in a car wreck a week after neck surgery. You would likely suffer more severe damages that a person whose neck was perfectly healthy before the crash.

So, does this mean that the at-fault party is responsible for your additional damages? Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, yes, the at-fault party would be responsible for your additional damages.  This is true, even though your damages were made worse by your prior medical condition and surgery.

Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, an at-fault party must take the victim as they find them. An injured party’s damages are not reduced because he or she is more susceptible to an injury than most people. Essentially, the eggshell plaintiff rule holds the defendant financially responsible for all damages that his or her negligence caused, regardless of the plaintiff’s frail or delicate condition or preexisting injuries.

About Pre-Existing Injuries

Even though the eggshell plaintiff rule is well-understood in Iowa and throughout the nation, that doesn’t stop insurance companies from trying to claim that a plaintiff’s injuries were pre-existing and not caused by the accident – this is a dirty trick played by insurance companies.

If you had a pre-existing injury, don’t let that stop you from filing a personal injury claim. Even if your pre-existing injuries made the claim more expensive, you still have every right to file a claim against the at-fault party. All law students learn about the eggshell plaintiff rule and how a victim with pre-existing injuries is entitled to damages, even if they were in a minor fender-bender. However, not all plaintiffs know that their pre-existing injuries cannot be used to reduce their claim.

If you were injured in an accident and you would be deemed an eggshell plaintiff, don’t let that stop you from filing a claim for compensation. Contact me today to schedule a free consultation to review your personal injury case.


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