Pre-existing injuries are wounds or health problems a plaintiff had before the accident on which an injury claim is based. If you get injured in an accident and wish to file a claim against someone for damages, you will need to consider whether your claim involves pre-existing injuries. If so, take steps to improve your chances of achieving a fair outcome, as a pre-existing condition could make it more difficult to have a successful claim.

What Is a Pre-Existing Injury?

Within the civil justice system, a pre-existing injury is one the filing party had prior to the accident in question. It is a phrase often seen during personal injury and auto accident lawsuits in West Virginia. Pre-existing injuries are relevant to damage claims, as they may impact how much compensation is owed to the victim. If the injury or health condition in question is something the victim had prior to the incident, the defendant might not be liable for damages.

These are common pre-existing injuries and conditions that come into play during injury lawsuits. If you had any pre-existing injuries before an accident, know that this will not necessarily bar you from financial recovery. It can, however, make it more difficult to convince an insurance company to handle your claim fairly. 

How Might a Pre-Existing Injury Impact a Claim?

In general, a defendant will not be liable for a plaintiff’s pre-existing injuries unless the accident impacted them. If the accident made pre-existing injuries or conditions worse, only then may a defendant have to pay compensation for these injuries. A defendant will also be liable for the full extent of an injury related to his or her negligence – even if a pre-existing condition made the injury worse than it otherwise might have been. This is what’s known as the Eggshell Skull Rule.

The Eggshell Skull Rule is a legal doctrine that holds a defendant liable for a plaintiff’s full injuries and losses, even if the plaintiff had an uncommon reaction to negligence due to a pre-existing injury or condition. The name of the doctrine stems from an example of a person with a skull as thin as an eggshell. In this example, the plaintiff with a rare condition suffers a catastrophic brain injury in an accident that likely would not have injured another person. The defendant would be liable for the full amount of the plaintiff’s damages according to the Eggshell Skull Rule.

The Rule states that a defendant lawfully must take a plaintiff as he or she is at the time of the accident – even if this is a state that is predisposed to serious injuries due to a pre-existing injury or condition. Yet many insurance companies use pre-existing injuries as a reason to unfairly deny claims or diminish payouts. It is important to prepare yourself for a difficult claims process as someone with a pre-existing injury.

How to Handle a Claim With a Pre-Existing Injury

You are not ineligible for financial compensation as someone diagnosed with a pre-existing injury. Your claim, however, will be more complicated. Be wary of the insurance company in charge of your claim asking you to sign a medical authorization release form. This form could give the insurance company full access to your medical history – including records dating back before the accident. This is a common tactic used to try to find evidence that you already possessed the injury you are claiming. 

Provide copies of only those medical records and documents relevant to your current injury claim. You may also need a letter from your doctor or a medical expert to prove that the accident exacerbated your pre-existing injury or vice versa. Keep in mind that your claim will come under increased scrutiny because of your condition. Protect your legal rights in West Virginia by using a personal injury attorney to represent you.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.


  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!


  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!


  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!


  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.


  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.


  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!


  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.


  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.


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