Do Pre-Existing Conditions Affect Pain and Suffering Settlements in Pennsylvania?

Table of Contents

    In some personal injury cases, plaintiffs are suing because they preexisting injuries were aggravated. For example, someone with a pre-existing back injury may suffer a car accident that causes their injury to worsen. In that case, they could sue the at-fault driver for the damages caused by their injuries worsening.

    Pre-existing conditions can affect the value of pain and suffering settlements in Pennsylvania. In general, plaintiffs are not entitled to receive payment for existing injuries or conditions that were unaffected by their accidents. However, they may be compensated for the degree to which those injuries have been exacerbated.

    If you need help recovering payment for pre-existing injuries that have been aggravated, connect with our Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 709-6940.

    How Do Preexisting Injuries Affect Your Pain and Suffering Settlement in Pennsylvania?

    Your personal injury claim cannot include damages for an injury you had before your accident. Rather, you must prove that the defendant’s negligent actions worsened your pre-existing condition. In turn, you may be compensated for the aggravation of your injury.

    While pre-existing injuries may complicate your potential case, you should not let them prevent you from seeking payment for the harm you incurred. Our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers can help demonstrate how the accident at issue worsened your preexisting condition. In turn, you may obtain the damages you deserve.

    Factors to Consider When Suing for the Worsening of a Pre-Existing Injury in Pennsylvania

    As previously mentioned, a pre-existing injury can slightly complicate the path to payment in your personal injury case. The following is an overview of factors to consider:


    It is crucial for you to disclose any pre-existing conditions during a personal injury case. If you fail to disclose these conditions and they are later discovered, it could severely undermine your credibility and weaken the strength of your case. Being honest and upfront about your medical history helps ensure that your case is handled fairly and transparently.

    Complications in Determining New Injuries

    Determining the extent to which a new injury exacerbates a pre-existing condition can be challenging. This issue can become a point of contention when calculating damages, as it is often difficult to separate the new injury from the existing condition. Accurate medical documentation and expert testimony are often essential to clearly illustrate the impact of the new injury on your pre-existing condition.

    The “Eggshell Plaintiff” Rule

    Pennsylvania follows the “eggshell plaintiff” doctrine, which means that a defendant takes a plaintiff as they find them. If you have a pre-existing condition that makes you more susceptible to injury, the defendant is still liable for the full extent of the harm caused. This rule ensures that you receive fair compensation even if your injuries are more severe than those of an average person without your condition.

    Impact on Damage Awards

    Although the eggshell plaintiff rule applies, having a pre-existing condition can still complicate the calculation of damages. Detailed medical testimony may be required to differentiate between new injuries and pre-existing conditions and to establish how much the incident has worsened your existing condition. This process ensures that you are compensated fairly for the additional suffering caused by the incident.

    Insurance Company Scrutiny

    Insurance companies often scrutinize claims involving pre-existing conditions more closely. They may argue that the injuries claimed are not the result of the incident but rather stem from pre-existing conditions. It is important to have thorough medical evidence to counter these arguments and prove that the incident caused or worsened your injuries.

    Negotiation and Litigation

    Claims with pre-existing conditions often require more intensive negotiation and potentially litigation, as they are typically more complex than claims without such conditions. Your attorney will need to present a compelling case that demonstrates how the incident impacted your pre-existing condition, which can involve detailed medical analysis and expert witness testimony.

    Statute of Limitations

    According to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524, you will usually have two years from the date of an accident to sue for the worsening of your preexisting injury. If you do not file your case on time, then you may miss out on crucial compensation.

    Furthermore, complicated evidence may be required to prove how the accident at issue aggravated your injury. Over time, this evidence may become difficult to collect and preserve. The more quickly you get to work on your case, the more efficient your evidence collection will be.

    Examples of Evidence Used to Prove that Your Preexisting Injury Was Aggravated in Pennsylvania

    There is an array of evidence that may be used to prove that your injury was aggravated. For instance, any of the following may be used in your case:

    Medical Records

    Medical records are crucial in proving that your pre-existing injury was aggravated. These documents provide a detailed history of your condition before and after your accident. Records from doctor visits, hospital stays, and diagnostic tests can clearly demonstrate how the accident worsened your pre-existing injury.

    Expert Testimony

    Expert testimony from medical professionals can help prove the aggravation of your pre-existing injury. Doctors and specialists can distinguish between the symptoms of your pre-existing injury and the new or worsened symptoms caused by the accident. Their professional opinions can be persuasive in establishing the connection between the incident and the aggravation of your injury.

    Personal Testimony

    Your own testimony can also be important evidence. Describing your physical condition, pain levels, and daily limitations before and after the incident can help paint a comprehensive picture of how your life has been affected. Personal accounts from family members or coworkers who observed the changes in your condition can further support your claim.

    Communications with Your Insurance Company

    Communications with your insurance company may also be utilized. Such communications may detail of your any pre-existing injury and help provide context for the aggravation.

    Contact Our Attorneys for Help Suing for a Preexisting Injury in Pennsylvania

    Get help from our Delaware County, PA personal injury attorneys by calling The Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940.

    Our Offices

    1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd #501
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
    Get Directions

    Get a Free Case Review

    "*" indicates required fields

    This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.