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Personal injury question

Los Angeles, CA |

I was in a car accident about 6 weeks ago. Due to a preexisting inflammation problem I did not recover very well, in fact my body responded very strangely. A lot of strange swelling and nerve pinching etc in muscles that wouldn't stop spasming. I suffer from panic attacks and they got much worse during all of this, as did my TMJ as I was hit right side, the entire side has had problems.. Tmj was causing dizzyness and forgetfulness.. Do my pre existing issues help or hurt my claim?

Attorney Answers 14


  1. It is what it is. it can make the medical issues more complex. Have to establish the pre and post accident conditions and symptoms to be able to document the aggravation caused by the accident. You will definitely need the help of an atty in proving this case. You should retain one soon before making any mistakes that make it even harder.


  2. Pre-existing injuries should not hurt your claim as you are entitled to compensation for an aggravation of a pre-existing injury. Its sounds like you have a complex medical situation, but remember all of this is subject to medical proof. You should have an attorney help you with your claim.


  3. It would depend on the details of your injuries and pre-existing conditions. Like any injuries, the unhealthier you become as a result of the accident, the more your case is potentially worth. So if your injuries have caused an underlying condition to become highly symptomatic, obviously it would help the value of your case. However, the insurance company will certainly try to pass off all of your problems on your prior conditions. This is why you need an experienced personal injury attorney working for you, that has an understanding of thee medical issues and can present your case in the best possible light.

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  4. The “eggshell skull” rule applies in California. This means that accidents effect people in different ways. One person can get into an accident an experience no pain at all. Another person in the same accident can become incapacitated and wrought with pain. The issue of preexisting condition always makes a case more difficult to prove if the accident causes only an exacerbation of those conditions. However, all of your current treating physicians should be able document your conditions before and after the accident. There could also be additional specialist that will be necessary to provide testing and treatment for any new conditions which were caused by the accident. If there were exacerbations or worsening of your conditions, those damages should be compensable. You should contact a lawyer to represent you.


  5. It shouldn't be a problem, I've had a lot of cases with prexisting injuries. I mean, who doesn't have some kind of back/neck pain etc prior to being in a accident? The best thing to do is hire an aggressive lawyer and have him push forward your case because I can tell you one thing for sure: The insurance company is going to give you a TOUGH time.

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  6. You really need to set up a consulation with a personal injury attorney. Having been in practice for nearly 36 years, all I can tell you, it depends. Underlying conditions can make some personal injury claims more difficult to evaluate. Panic attacks depending on the severity and causation are often sequella of severe traffic collisions. TMJ - ususally requires direct trauma and proper evaluation by a dentist on the issue of causation. Forgetfulness usually related to head trauma.

    You need to get proper medical attention. Your underlying conditions are factors in your claim, in my opinion they do not "help" or "hurt."

    The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. I am only licensed in the State of California and I am not providing you with specific legal advice. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Being general in nature, the information provided may not apply to any specific factual and/or legal set of circumstances and/or the jurisdiction where you reside. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. The information provided is of a general nature is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Your question, although you may believe is simple, it is not simple. You require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.


  7. If handled correctly, I think an aggravation of a prior problem helps your case. There is a rule of law that says: If a plaintiff had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by defendant’s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate for the effect on that condition.


  8. It depends. If you are able to establish that the accident caused new or worsening of symptoms - then you should be compensated for those injuries. For instance, you had pain on the right side, and now it is on the left; or your pain level was a 2 and now it is a 9.
    As other responders have noted, the insurance company will attempt to diminish your claim - or allege you do not have one - because of your pre-existing condition(s). You should certainly consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that they can walk you through this process. You are certainly not the first person that has had pre-existing conditions that was in an accident. An experienced personal injury attorney should be able to help you.

    The information contained in this response is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter and does not create an attorney-client relationship. No recipient of this information, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient's state.


  9. It all depends on how well your doctors and attorney can document the exacerbation of your prior condition. Also, it is imperative to request your prior medical records and have them reviewed. Leave the proof of damages to the capable hands of your attorney and focus on taking care of your injuries.


  10. It depends. If a current medical provider, after reviewing your medical history, is able to thoroughly report that your condition was asymptomatic pre-accident and therefore did not cause you the type and severity of pain your are experiencing, this would be helpful in establishing the accident exacerbated your injury. In such case, you would be deemed an "eggshell skull plaintiff." This rule holds one liable for all consequences resulting from his or her negligent conduct, even if the victim suffers an unusually high level of damage due to a pre-existing condition. However, the bodily injury adjuster for the insurance company would certainly attempt to allocate most of your damages to your previous condition. This is why you should speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss how best to approach your situation.


  11. They can help or hurt, but the law is that if a preexisting condition is aggravated, the person who hit you has bought it. All the best.


  12. You are what lawyers often call an "egg-shell plaintiff." Assuming that the other party is liable, they are liable for all of the damage that they caused - including your damages. The other driver must follow the rules of the road expecting that other people, such as yourself, may have pre-existing problems that will make them more vulnerable to significant injuries. Feel better and good luck.


  13. Generally, you are not entitled to any damages for any physical or emotional condition that existed prior to the accident. HOWEVER, if the defendant is liable for the accident, then you are entitled to damages including any AGGRAVATION of a preexisting condition. Here, it sounds like your panic attacks and TMJ, while present at the time of the accident, were indeed aggravated. Thus, you should definitely discuss these damages when consulting with a personal injury attorney, which I recommend you do promptly. Good luck to you.

    The information presented here is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Further, this posting does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any attorney-client relationship with the author will require a written agreement signed by both parties.


  14. As noted, apparently only by attorney Daniel Kim, you have a crucial need for medical expertise prove the existence of adverse medical conditions and to prove the cause (whether some preexisting inflammation, the not-an-accident-if-there-was-fault collision, or some other preexisting or subsequently occurring condition) of the conditions. The main problem is the legal doctors generally know little of medicine and medical doctors generally don't use surgical thinking nor care much about the legal issues surrounding injuries. Hope for the best but expect the worst.

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