Mental conditions like depression and anxiety can manifest from nothing at all—just a chemical imbalance in the brain which is entirely out of the control of the person experiencing their effects.
Mental illness can also be trauma-borne. Just as a bad fall can break your leg, so too can a traumatic event cause or worsen depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and others.
Car accidents can cause mental as well as physical injuries. Your physical injuries can be severe—even life threatening—and the trauma you experience can be devastating for your mental health.
But what if you already had depression but it got worse after your car accident? Can such a development affect how you go about receiving damages for your injuries? You may even wonder if the other driver can use your depression against you, which can cause a lot of undue anxiety you don’t want to bear.
Luckily, the eggshell skull rule can protect you if a pre-existing condition made your car accident injuries worse than expected. If your depression worsens after a car accident, the eggshell skull rule could help you receive proper compensation.
How the Eggshell Rule Protects Car Accident Victims
Certain people have conditions that make them more vulnerable to severe injury in the event of a car crash.
Blood disorders can hinder the clotting of lacerations and therefore pose a huge threat to the sufferer’s short and long-term recovery. People with various stages of brittle bone disease can experience significantly worse injuries in accidents simply because their bones break more easily.
Even though they were already in a weakened state due to their pre-existing condition, people with these disorders also need the protection of the law. That’s where the eggshell skull rule comes in.
Simply put, the eggshell skull rule stipulates that the negligent party in a car accident (the driver who is most at-fault) cannot hold any pre-existing conditions against the victim of the accident, even if those conditions contributed to or worsened the victim’s injuries.
The same can apply for your pre-existing depression. A person who has depression is generally more susceptible to mental trauma following a car accident, but a negligent party can’t deny their own negligence—or withhold damages from a victim—for this reason alone.
Verifying Your Case
The insurance company may try to get out of paying for pain and suffering because depression, unlike a blatant physical injury, is hard to measure or quantify. You don’t want the other driver to be able to point at your medical history and say, “They weren’t even getting treated, so how can we say the crash made the depression worse?”
When it comes to determining the right amount of compensation for your injuries, depression is harder to quantify than a physical injury. Receiving the compensation you’re due is significantly more difficult if you can’t show any evidence of your depression’s pre-existence and treatment.
Your personal injury settlement should cover current and future treatments for your injury. Thanks to the eggshell skull rule, the insurance company cannot offer you a smaller settlement because your condition is worse than if you hadn’t had depression before the accident.
If you’ve struggled with depression before your car accident made it worse, then you’ll need to prove that:
- your depression existed before the car accident
- your depression was exacerbated by the car accident
- you have been treating for your depression since the accident
Without evidence proving your treatment, the insurance company might offer a settlement that doesn’t include money for ongoing therapy sessions or medication. Any doctors appointments, prescriptions, and therapy sessions you may have undergone will speak first to your ongoing struggle with depression and, better yet, will show you’ve been actively seeking treatment for it.
And remember this: everything we’ve covered operates under the assumption that the other driver is the most at-fault in the crash. Indiana ia a fault state. So if you are at fault for any portion of the accident it must be less than 50 percent or you may not be able to recover damages from the other party.
Help from a Muncie Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are not trivial or superficial. They’re often tremendous sources of grief and pain, and from those can stem worsening mental illnesses.
You don’t have to face any of that alone. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, and that depression worsened after a car crash, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.
If you struggle with depression or any other mental illness, you’re not alone. You can consult the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Hotline at any time if you need help right away.