Can I claim compensation if an accident made an existing injury or illness worse?
If you have suffered an accident that resulted in aggravated or worsened symptoms of a pre-existing medical condition, you may still be eligible to make a claim for compensation. It can be more time consuming and complex to prove that an existing injury or illness has been made worse, and so your solicitor will work closely with you to gather an understanding of your condition pre and post accident. It is important to have a thorough medical assessment as soon as possible to provide evidence and reliable proof of how the accident has exacerbated your symptoms. Your solicitor will encourage you to maintain thorough records of medical assessments and any financial losses you have incurred.
There are specific legal guidelines that help solicitors undertake cases such as this and often the ‘eggshell skull rule’ is applied. Under this rule, a defendant’s liability can be asserted when it is clear that the negligence of the liable person would have normally caused minor injuries but in the claimant’s case, the symptoms were more severe due to their pre-existing medical condition. A good example of this sort of scenario would be a claimant suffering from a heart attack following a road traffic accident caused by the dangerous driving of the defendant. It could be deemed that more minor injuries would have been caused, but a claimant’s weakened heart condition led to a more significant injury following the incident. In these situations, the defendant is likely to be deemed responsible for the elevated level of suffering caused by their actions.
It may also be possible to make a compensation claim if the onset of a medical condition was brought forward following the actions of the liable party. A prime example of this sort of claim is an employee becoming deaf through working in a loud environment. A doctor may determine that hearing loss was inevitable but accelerated through the employment conditions. Compensation may be paid to cover the amount of time between the actual loss of hearing and the otherwise likely time of onset.
In all of the above instances, it is important to note that it is advisable to seek medical attention as early as possible. Proving accelerated medical conditions or worsening symptoms following an accident can be difficult and as such, swift medical evaluations can be key to securing a successful claim outcome.