How a Pre-Existing Injury Can Enhance the Value of a Motor Vehicle Accident Claim


November 15, 2013

When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the insurance company for an unsafe or distracted driver or other responsible parties will typically use the discovery process to request a broad range of medical documentation. Although the insurance company generally has a right to request such information, injury victims benefit from allowing an experienced Georgia personal injury attorney respond to such requests so that personal information that you are not required to disclose is not inadvertently furnished to the defendants' insurance companies.

Insurance companies make these requests because they are looking for evidence that your injuries were not actually caused by the motor vehicle collision but a pre-existing medical condition or prior injury. Sadly, many people that are not represented by an experienced Atlanta motor vehicle accident lawyer find this line of reasoning persuasive and settle their claim on unfavorable terms. This can be a huge mistake because the settlement may not be sufficient to cover all of one's medical expenses let alone provide compensation for lost earnings, future diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, impaired quality of life and other types of damages.

Although a pre-existing condition may be relevant to a personal injury claim, it will not necessarily have an adverse impact on the value of your motor vehicle collision claim. The law recognizes a legal doctrine that is referred to as the "eggshell doctrine." This legal principle essentially holds a defendant responsible for the consequences of his or her negligent conduct regardless of the particular vulnerability of the plaintiff. In other words, a pre-existing condition under the right circumstances might increase the value of a personal injury claim.

The best way to understand how a pre-existing medical condition or injury can enhance the financial value of a Georgia car accident claim is by way of example. A person may have suffered a back injury in a construction accident many years prior to being involved in a collision. While a rear-end impact collision might have resulted in only minor whiplash injuries to a person without the pre-existing injury, the force of the collision may cause the paralysis of the person with the prior spinal injury. The eggshell doctrine is designed to prevent a defendant from avoiding culpability for unreasonably unsafe conduct that causes injury to another by hiding behind the susceptibility of the injury victim to certain types of injuries. In other words, the defendant must "take the plaintiff as he finds him." 

There is no question that cases where a pre-existing injury or medical condition is made worse by a motor vehicle accident are more complicated so legal representation from an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney can be very important. Insurance companies often use tactics like claiming their insured is not responsible for your injury because it pre-dated the accident, because there goal is to underpay a legitimate accident claim, or to avoid paying anything at all.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

If you or someone close to you is injured or a loved one dies in an Atlanta motor vehicle collision, our Atlanta car wreck attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.