A doctor monitors a patient for pre-existing conditions
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By Jarome Gautreaux

In Georgia, pre-existing conditions can significantly impact the outcome of personal injury cases. These conditions refer to medical issues or injuries before the claimed incident. When a person with a pre-existing condition is involved in an accident leading to a personal injury claim, the defendant may try to argue that the incident did not cause the claimant’s current injuries but instead was caused by prior health issues. However, the plaintiff may still be entitled to compensation for the aggravation of their previous ailments. This distinction makes it essential for plaintiffs to disclose pre-existing conditions and for their attorney to demonstrate how the incident has worsened their health, affecting the settlement or judgment.

Critical Aspects Of Pre-existing Conditions In Georgia

  • Definition and Relevance: Pre-existing conditions refer to any medical issues an individual was dealing with before the accident or injury event. These conditions can range from prior injuries to chronic illnesses. In personal injury cases, these conditions are relevant because they can affect the nature and extent of the injuries caused by the accident.
  • The Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine: Georgia law follows the “Eggshell Plaintiff” doctrine. This principle states that defendants must take a plaintiff as they find them. Suppose a plaintiff has a pre-existing condition that makes them more susceptible to injury. In that case, the defendant is still liable for the damages the plaintiff suffers due to the defendant’s negligence. Even if the injury would not have been as severe for a person without the preexisting condition, the defendant is responsible for the full extent of the injury.
  • Impact on Damages: Pre-existing conditions can make calculating damages a little tricky. Plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for the aggravation of preexisting conditions. However, they are not allowed to receive compensation for the underlying condition itself. This distinction can be challenging to navigate and as a result, medical expert testimony is often necessary.
  • Disclosure and Proof: The victim must disclose any preexisting conditions during the legal process. Failing to do so can undermine credibility and affect the outcome of the case. The individual may need to provide medical records and expert testimony to differentiate between the injuries caused by the accident and the symptoms of the preexisting conditions.
  • Defense Strategies: Defendants in personal injury cases often scrutinize the plaintiff’s pre-existing conditions to limit their liability. They may argue that the plaintiff’s injuries were entirely due to pre-existing conditions and not the result of the accident. Consequently, the plaintiff’s legal team must establish the link between the accident and the specific injuries or the aggravation of preexisting conditions.
  • Negotiations and Settlements: Pre-existing conditions can also impact negotiations and settlements. Both sides may use the existence and extent of these conditions to strengthen their position. Settlements must consider the current and future impact of the injury in addition to the pre-existing condition.
  • Legal Guidance: Given the complexities involved in pre-existing conditions, it is often recommended that individuals seek an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help navigate the legal intricacies, gather necessary evidence, and advocate on the plaintiff’s behalf to ensure that they receive fair compensation.


Pre-existing conditions can significantly affect personal injury cases in Georgia. They impact the legal strategy, evidence required, and potential compensation. Understanding and effectively managing the implications of these conditions is critical for both plaintiffs and defendants in the legal process. Gautreaux Law has experienced personal injury attorneys who can protect your interests if you have been injured and have a preexisting condition that might need to

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.