Complications in Personal Injury Cases: Dealing with Pre-Existing Injuries

Dec 15, 2023

Personal injury cases often involve complexities, and one significant factor that can complicate matters is when the injured party has pre-existing injuries or medical conditions. Addressing these pre-existing conditions in a personal injury claim requires a nuanced approach, and understanding how the law navigates this issue is crucial. In this article, we’ll explore the challenges and considerations involved in handling personal injury cases with pre-existing injuries.

Understanding Pre-Existing Injuries:

Pre-existing injuries or medical conditions are those that existed before the incident that led to the personal injury claim. These could range from prior accidents and chronic health conditions to previous surgeries or injuries sustained in different circumstances.

Challenges Faced by Plaintiffs:

  • Causation Issues: Establishing a direct link between the current injury and the incident in question can be challenging when pre-existing injuries are involved. Defendants may argue that the current injuries are unrelated or partially caused by pre-existing conditions.
  • Diminished Damages: Defendants may attempt to minimize the compensation owed by arguing that the plaintiff’s damages would have been lower if not for the pre-existing conditions.
  • Proving Aggravation: Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the incident aggravated or worsened their pre-existing conditions. This requires medical evidence and expert testimony to establish the impact of the new injury on the pre-existing condition.

Strategies for Handling Pre-Existing Injuries in Personal Injury Claims:

  • Full Disclosure: It’s essential for plaintiffs to fully disclose any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions to their attorneys. Transparency is key in building a strong case.
  • Thorough Medical Examination: Plaintiffs should undergo a thorough medical examination to assess the extent of their pre-existing conditions and how the new injury has affected them.
  • Expert Medical Testimony: Engaging medical experts who can testify to the causal relationship between the incident and the aggravation of pre-existing conditions is crucial.
  • Documentation and Medical Records: Comprehensive documentation, including medical records, treatment history, and diagnostic tests, is vital in establishing the history of pre-existing injuries.
  • Life Care Plans: In some cases, presenting a life care plan can help outline the ongoing medical needs and costs associated with pre-existing conditions.

Legal Considerations

  • Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine: This legal doctrine asserts that a defendant is liable for the full extent of a plaintiff’s injuries, even if the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition made them more susceptible to harm.
  • Comparative Negligence: In states with comparative negligence laws, the plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced based on their degree of fault. Defendants may argue that the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions contributed to their injuries.

Consulting with a Personal Injury Attorney:

Navigating personal injury cases involving pre-existing injuries requires the expertise of a seasoned personal injury attorney. A skilled attorney can:

  • Assess the impact of pre-existing conditions on the case.
  • Provide legal guidance on how to present and prove aggravation of pre-existing injuries.
  • Advocate for the plaintiff’s right to fair compensation despite pre-existing conditions.


While pre-existing injuries add a layer of complexity to personal injury cases, they do not negate a plaintiff’s right to seek compensation for damages caused by someone else’s negligence. With meticulous documentation, expert testimony, and the guidance of a skilled personal injury attorney, individuals with pre-existing injuries can still pursue and succeed in obtaining the compensation they deserve.



About Coffman Law Offices, P.C.

Coffman Law is Chicago’s leading personal injury law firm and is committed to providing superb legal representation for people who are suffering from severe personal injuries or are dealing with the loss of a loved one due to negligence or misconduct. Coffman Law is results-driven law firm focused on ensuring that clients receive the compassion, attention, and consideration that they need to seek adequate compensation for injuries or loss. The firm is led by Owner and Founding Partner Brian Coffman, who has dedicated his career to helping accident victims navigate the legal system and obtain compensation for their injuries.