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February 15th, 2021
In order to get compensation in a personal injury claim, accident victims must prove that they were physically harmed by someone else’s actions, or occasionally, inactions (such as if they were injured slipping on a wet floor because the property owner didn’t put up a “wet floor” sign).
Because of this, when the insurance company representing the at-fault party can’t prove that the victim isn’t injured, they will next attempt to prove that the injury wasn’t actually the fault of their policyholder. One way they do this is by claiming the injury was pre-existing. However, even if an injury is pre-existing, if an accident makes an injury worse, victims can still qualify for compensation.
An aggravated injury is when a body part that has been injured in the past is re-injured, or a pre-existing injury or health condition is made worse. Although insurance companies aren’t responsible for paying for treatment for pre-existing injuries, they are responsible for treating the aggravation.
For example, let’s use the case of someone who had previously suffered a back injury. However, the injury was manageable, and didn’t affect their life too much, until they were rear-ended by another vehicle while waiting at a traffic light. Now they need spinal surgery.
The insurance company of the at-fault driver will usually attempt to argue that the only reason the victim needs the surgery is because they already had back problems, and a healthy person in the same accident would not need as much, or any, treatment.
However, Louisiana law protects people who have previously been injured or who are physically frail, and it allows them to still collect compensation if they are injured through someone else’s actions.
It’s called the “Eggshell” rule. It essentially says that even though the pre-existing condition made the victim’s injury from the accident worse than it could have been, they still suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence and deserve to be compensated.
However, proving the degree of aggravation in these types of cases can be difficult, especially without a lawyer on your side.
The insurance company is only responsible for the aggravation of the injury, and not the entire injury, since the initial injury wasn’t the fault of their policyholder. For example, if the severity of the pre-existing injury was considered 3/10, and after the car accident became 8/10, the victim would receive compensation as if the severity were 5/10, because that’s how much of the injury the accident contributed to.
So while victims of accidents with pre-existing conditions can still get compensation, the insurance company will try to pay as little as possible by claiming the amount of harm their policyholder caused was very small.
This can reduce the amount of compensation you can get, unless you have an experienced personal injury attorney who can help prove through your medical records and other evidence that most of the pain and disability you’re currently suffering would not have happened, regardless of your pre-existing condition, had the accident not occurred.
We’ve helped accident victims who have pre-existing conditions many times before, and we know how the risk of a devastating injury becomes more likely when you’ve already been injured in the past. When you’re careful about your health, understand your own limits, and have learned how to safely live with a condition or injury, but end up suffering anyway because of someone else’s carelessness, that’s not right or just.
We want to help you fight for the full compensation you deserve after an accident. If you’ve been rejected compensation for treatment you need for an injury you suffered, just because you have a pre-existing condition, call the Louisiana personal injury attorneys at Dudley DeBosier today for a free case consultation.