Pre-Existing Conditions and Personal Injury Claims | ™
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Claiming with a Pre-existing Condition

Following an accident that wasn’t your fault, not only are you likely to be left with injuries relating to your accident, your pre-existing condition may also be worse. This can be particularly traumatic especially if your condition is degenerative.

Many people in the UK live with pre-existing conditions, so you’re not alone; and expert solicitors have helped people with pre-existing conditions successfully claim compensation following an accident that wasn’t their fault.

We know that an accident can have a greater impact than just physical injuries and that as a result your mental health may have suffered too.

Whether you’ve been left dependent on others while you recover, with a longer recovery time or with anxiety and apprehension around your accident and injury, an expert can help. With one free phone call to 0800 234 6438 you can receive free, impartial advice about your accident and find out if you’re able to make a compensation claim.

DID YOU KNOW: In the UK, more than 18.8 million people have a long-term condition which is incurable and can only be controlled by medication or other therapies. This figure is expected to continue to increase over the coming years.

Can I claim with a pre-existing injury?

The short answer is, in most cases, yes. It’s important to remember that any pre-existing injuries can become worse due to an accident, which means you can usually claim compensation for this.

For example, a prior back injury that might have healed could be aggravated by a work injury or car accident. If this accident prevents you from performing everyday activities or working, you have every right to file for compensation.

Most importantly, you should receive it.

How serious does the accident need to be?

There is often a misconception that to be able to make a claim the injuries resulting from your accident have to be dramatic and life-changing. Equally, there are some that say anybody can make a claim for stubbing their toe. Neither are true.

To be able to make a claim, you must have been in an accident in the last three years, somebody else must have been at fault and you must have been injured due to the accident.

There are some cases where injuries might not become apparent straight away. In those cases, an injury solicitor can still help you make a claim. Instead of three years since your accident, the time limit starts from the date your injury (or resulting illness) was discovered.

In terms of the seriousness of the accident and injuries, if you have received any injury that’s had an impact on your life and wellbeing than you can make a claim. This includes:

  • If you’ve had to take time off work to recover
  • Been unable to drive or go about your normal daily life
  • Had to withdraw from social events because you are too ill or traumatised
  • Had to dip into your savings for private treatment or to cover bills

If the accident only impacted your chronic condition

If your accident has made your pre-existing condition or illness worse, you could still be in a position to make a claim, as you’re entitled to make a claim when anything impacts how you live your life normally.

So, if you’ve been living with a condition, disease or illness – such as a degenerative muscle condition, asthma or high blood pressure for example – and this has become harder to live with or worse since your accident, then you have a legal right to claim for compensation.

When considering your compensation following this type of accident, your solicitor will take into account:

  • The reason for your worsening health
  • Whether your condition has been accelerated as a result of the accident
  • How your injuries have, and will continue to, impact your home and work life
  • Whether you’ve experienced increased pain and discomfort
  • Any loss of earnings now and into the future you might suffer
  • The cost of additional treatment

Making a claim with a pre-existing condition

Legally, the process of claiming with a pre-existing or chronic illness or condition is very similar to that of any personal injury claim, and you cannot be discriminated against because you may have been ill before.

However, proving that your illness or condition was exacerbated or accelerated as a result of your accident can be difficult. An expert solicitor can help you with this if you decide to claim.

For example, you will need to show that somebody was at fault for your accident, and that your injuries were caused by their negligence. You will also need to provide evidence that your condition was worsened by the ordeal or the event.

To help with this, we recommend you see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident so that they can assess the impact, give you advice on recovery and make sure your injuries are recorded. Of course, it can take time for the real impact on your condition to appear, so we recommend visiting a GP or medical practitioner whenever you feel unwell.

As part of the claims process, you’ll also be invited for a free medical assessment. This is nothing to worry about and is a routine part of all claims. It’s simply another opportunity for you to get expert advice and for your solicitor to gather information to support your case.

Car accidents that aggravate pre-existing conditions

Car accidents can be devastating events that result in both minor and severe injuries. Neck injuries, broken bones, traumatic brain damage, paralysis, and even fatalities can occur.

Naturally, if someone else was at fault for your injury, you have every right to make a compensation claim.
While a pre-existing condition can complicate the process, it doesn’t mean you won’t be eligible for a financial award.
However, your solicitor will need to work hard to prove your injuries and not let the negligent party’s insurance provider blame it on any existing conditions.

Claiming for a whiplash injury

Whiplash injuries typically occur when the head jerks backwards after a sudden movement. They’re most common with car crashes, and your injury could be more severe if you have a previous neck condition or degenerative disc disease.

Your solicitor will work to:

  • Prove Severity: They’ll need to prove that your whiplash on its own is a severe injury that caused numerous difficulties. The negligent party’s insurance provider will want to minimise the injury and say your pre-existing condition contributed to the whiplash.
  • Provide Evidence: Your medical records will play a key role in dealing with any disputes from the insurance provider, as they can show the extent of your prior injury and solidify your case for compensation.
  • Calculating Compensation: Your solicitor will work hard to highlight how the injury impacts your life and ability to work. Even if you had prior back or neck issues, they’ll look at how life’s changed since the whiplash, ensuring you receive the correct award.

Pre-existing neck injury settlements

There’s no set amount for a pre-existing neck injury; your compensation depends on the previous neck injury and how the most recent incident worsens it. Your solicitor will review your case and gather evidence to ensure you get the money you deserve.

They’ll review the injury, any pain and suffering it causes and factor in special damages. For example, lost earnings, travel expenses, medical bills, and anything else can count towards your compensation.

If you’re ready to speak to someone, you can call a trained legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438. All calls are advisory, and there’s no obligation to start a claim – your adviser simply wants to help you by answering any questions you might have about making a claim. If you wish to proceed, they can then put you in touch with an expert injury solicitor.

Proving somebody was at fault or liable

It can be difficult to know if somebody is at fault for your accident. If you’re unsure at all, we recommend contacting a legal adviser for free on 0800 234 6438 – they’re trained to be able to identify where there may be somebody at fault.

Typically, somebody is at fault when they have failed to:

  • Adhere to safety training or standards
  • Given sub-standard care, as expected for their job role
  • Have provided faulty equipment or not properly maintained the equipment being used
  • Failed to keep walkways, roads or aisles free from hazards
  • Not provided the correct training or safety equipment
  • Driven negligently or carelessly

If your accident was partly your fault

If the accident that made your pre-existing condition worse or caused you further health complications was partly your fault you may still be able to claim compensation, as long as someone else was still partly to blame.

For example, if your injuries were caused by you crossing the road without looking first, but you were hit by a car that was speeding, the person driving the speeding car would still be held responsible for your accident – though any compensation awarded may be reduced to take in to account that you were partly at fault.

Where your injuries are particularly serious this share of liability could have a significant impact on the amount of compensation you receive; if you are found to be 25% to blame, a compensation award of £4m would be reduced by £1m.

How you can strengthen your claim

There is a chance that the other side will try and blame you, at least partly, for the accident – even if you were completely blameless. This is to try and minimise the amount of compensation you could receive.

If this happens, please don’t worry. Your solicitor is on hand to negotiate on your behalf and will have experience working with claims where liability isn’t immediately admitted. In those types of cases, your solicitor will gather new evidence to support your claim and keep you updated on the steps they take to recover your compensation.

However, one thing that can help to avoid this altogether is gathering as much evidence as possible to back up your claim. This could include:

  • Photos of the scene
  • CCTV footage, if it’s available
  • Names and contact details of any potential witnesses
  • A written account of exactly what happened
  • Any receipts of extra spends you’ve had to make as a result of your injuries
  • Medical reports on your pre-existing injuries;

If you were a victim of a crime

If your chronic condition was made worse because you were a victim of a crime, for example an assault, you can make a claim for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The CICA is a government agency that deals with compensation claims from blameless victims of violent crimes, who have been physically or mentally injured in England, Scotland or Wales.

You can claim for physical and mental injuries caused by the criminal assault and for past or future loss of earnings or special expenses caused by a crime, similar to a normal personal injury claim. Included in this is the impact on any chronic, lifelong or pre-existing injury or condition.

To be eligible to apply for a CICA award you must:

  • Have a claim worth at least £1,000 (£500,000 is the maximum award available)
  • Start your claim within two years of the incident; although this is waived in exceptional circumstances and your solicitor can help you here
  • Have reported the matter to the police
  • Be an innocent victim – if the CICA feels that you provoked or actively participated in the incident it could refuse or reduce your compensation
  • Not have a relevant criminal conviction

If you have two or more injuries so serious that each, on its own would qualify, you may be entitled to:

  • 100% of the full tariff value of the most serious injury
  • 30% of the tariff amount for the injury with an equal or second highest value; plus
  • 15% of the tariff amount for any additional injury with an equal or third highest value

Other Important Information

*No Win No Fee

  • Although all our cases are handled on a no win no fee basis, other costs could be payable upon solicitors request. These will be fully explained to you before you proceed. Most customers will pay 25% (including VAT) of the compensation they are awarded to their law firm, although this may vary based on individual circumstances. Your solicitor may arrange for insurance to be in place for you to make sure your claim is risk free. Termination fees based on time spent may apply, or in situations such as: lack of cooperation or deliberately misleading our solicitors, or failing to go to any medical or expert examination, or court hearing.
  • *Criminal Injury Claims

  • If you want to make a claim for a criminal injury, you are not required to use the services of a claims management company to pursue the claim. You can submit your claim for free on your own behalf, directly to the Criminal Injury Compensation Authority (England, Wales, and Scotland) or the Criminal Injury Compensation Scheme (Northern Ireland).
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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