What If My Accident Makes a Pre-Existing Injury Worse?

A pre-existing condition refers to any medical issue you had before your car accident. These conditions are often managed well until an accident makes them worse. Insurance companies will argue your condition, not the accident, caused your problems.

But having a pre-existing condition does not mean you can’t get compensation. The key is proving your pre-existing condition was stable before the accident, and the accident substantially worsened it.

Provide medical records before and after the crash, showing the accident caused a meaningful change in your condition or injury. Your doctor’s testimony can confirm your pre-existing issue was manageable until the additional trauma from the accident.

With solid evidence the accident aggravated your injury, you have the right to pursue a claim for the extra medical costs, lost work and wages, pain and suffering, and diminished quality of life the accident has caused you.

Contact Injury Medicine to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in South Carolina.

How a New Injury Can Aggravate a Pre-Existing Condition

If you already struggle with a bad back, bum knee, or other chronic health issue, an accident can exacerbate your pain and cause further damage. How?

  • Existing Pain Points: An old injury typically means certain areas of your body are more vulnerable or sensitive. A new accident, even a minor one, can intensely irritate those spots.
  • Delayed Recovery: Pre-existing conditions often heal slower and less completely. Scar tissue and long-term inflammation make injuries harder to bounce back from. You may face a longer road to recovery that requires extended rest, physical therapy, medication, or other treatments.
  • Loss of Function: In severe cases, a new accident and an old injury combination can lead to loss of movement or strength. Nerve damage, torn tendons, or other trauma may limit your range of motion, flexibility, endurance, and independence.

The Eggshell Skull Doctrine

If you already had an injury or medical condition before your accident, the person who caused your accident is still responsible for any damages that accident caused. This is known as the “eggshell skull” doctrine.

Even if you had a pre-existing injury or “thin skull”, the person at fault for your accident is liable for the full extent of any damages that arise from their negligent actions. The severity of your pre-existing injury doesn’t matter.

The at-fault party takes you as they find you, “eggshell skull” and all. They are liable for the consequences if their actions lead to further injury to their already fragile state. Your pre-existing condition isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for the person who caused your accident.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions That Can Be Aggravated By a Car Accident

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, a car accident can exacerbate your symptoms or cause additional injuries. Here are some conditions that may be aggravated by a car accident.

various accidents can make old injuries worse

Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries

A prior concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be re-injured in a car accident, even from what seems like a minor collision. Your brain is especially vulnerable to impacts for months or even years after an initial head injury.

Brittle Bone Disease

Conditions like osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta that cause weak or brittle bones are at high risk of fractures and breaks from the forces involved in a car crash. Broken ribs, hip fractures, and spinal compression fractures are common injuries for those with fragile bone conditions.


The chronic pain and tenderness associated with fibromyalgia can flare up for weeks or months following a motor vehicle accident. Whiplash injuries, muscle strains, and the physical stress of an accident frequently aggravate fibromyalgia symptoms.

Degenerative Disk Disease

If you have a degenerative back condition like spinal stenosis or herniated disks, a car accident’s twisting and impact forces can compress or re-injure the spine. Correcting this can require emergency spinal stabilization, pain management, physical therapy, and even surgery.

Contact Injury Medicine Today

If your accident causes an existing injury to worsen or flare up, it’s critical that you contact our doctors right away. Our physicians at Injury Medicine have years of experience treating patients with prior conditions and injuries.

We will carefully evaluate your medical history and current state to determine the best action to relieve your pain and promote healing. If you have a personal injury case, we can work with your attorney so you don’t pay upfront fees for treatment.

Don’t delay in scheduling an appointment with us. The sooner we can examine you, the sooner we can get you on the road to recovery. Call our offices today at 864-866-PAIN to schedule an initial consultation.

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