In most cases, when someone has an accident that leads to them suffering a personal injury, it is a new injury, a new health problem and a new issue for the injured person to cope with. For others, a pre-existing health condition is affected. Whether it’s an injury suffered in the past, an ongoing health problem or a chronic illness, it can still have a big consequence upon their day-to-day life, their ability to work, earn money and look after themselves or their family properly.
But if this condition or injury is worsened by an accident, can the injured person still claim compensation for it? Can they hold the 3rd party liable for their situation even though they already had problems? And will it affect the settlement value of their claim for personal injury compensation?
You can claim for pre-existing conditions as well as new injuries
To make a claim for new or pre-existing injuries, the most important element of the claim remains the same. You must be able to demonstrate that the 3rd party are liable for the accident and should have avoided it happening in the first place. If you can prove liability, you can claim compensation on a no win no fee basis.
Remember, if your situation has been worsened in an accident that was not your fault, you have every right to seek compensation for the distress, pain and effect that the outcome has on your life. This would also include mental health as well as physical conditions. Indeed, by making a claim for compensation, you will get access to further medical assistance that could well help you to recover more quickly.
What if an accident has only affected your pre-existing condition?
If you received no new injuries but your accident has made your pre-existing condition or illness worse, you could still make a claim depending what impact it has had on your life. For example, if you’ve been living with a chronic or degenerative disease and this has become harder to live with since your accident, then you have a right to compensation.
To make a strong case, your solicitor should look at the following:
- The cause of your condition
- Whether it has been worsened by your accident
- The level of increased pain and discomfort
- How your condition impacts your life
- Whether you’ve lost earnings because of the accident
- The financial cost of further treatment
The claims process is the same for new and pre-existing injuries – your solicitor will get your authority to access medical records and then instruct experts to assess you and write a qualified report evaluating the impact of the accident. This will form the basis for your solicitor and the insurers defending the claim to discuss what level of compensation you should receive. However, evaluating the amount of compensation due can be a little more complex when claiming for a worsened pre-existing health condition or injury.
Medical records are used in evidence
When a medical expert conducts a detailed examination, they may well find that the injured claimant has a pre-existing condition that would, in due course, have become an issue anyway. Therefore it is not possible to state that the long term implications of injury were caused by their accident, just that the accident and injury caused has sped up the onset of any symptoms from the pre-existing condition. Of course, such an outcome from a medical is often unwelcome.
In such cases, experts are saying that the claimant would have suffered problems at some point and that the accident has simply caused an earlier onset of symptoms. Because of this, a claim can be made for the exacerbation of symptoms but the claimant cannot hold the defendant responsible for them in full.
Having said that, it’s not always the case that you would get a lower settlement than someone suffering a fresh injury, indeed, it could be more, it all depends on the medical evidence available.
Don’t feel embarrassed
People who have had their condition worsened by an accident that was not their fault often feel reluctant to claim due to being embarrassed. They may like to live life privately and do their best to hide their health problems from the outside world. Many feel (wrongly) that they may lose their job if their disability is discovered and learn to work through it and manage their health issues. However, when their situation is worsened by an accident, it can become more difficult to hide the problem and carry on as normal.
We’re used to handling these delicate issues and working closely with claimants to make sure that they have the confidence to pursue their legal right to make a claim for compensation.
We can discuss the specifics of the accident in which your pre-existing condition was affected and advise you as to whether or not we think that you have grounds to pursue a claim for compensation. It’s usually really quick for us to find out if you have a valid claim, just call us on 01225 430285, or we can call you back.