Can a Pre-existing Condition Affect Settlements in Ontario?

A serious injury from a car accident in Ontario may leave you suffering pain long after bruises, scrapes, or breaks have healed, and the injured body parts may be prone to re-injury.

A person who has already been injured in an accident may have to pay less compensation. 

Even if you are afflicted with a prior medical condition, such as a bad back or an undiagnosed disease, you may still be eligible for compensation. In some cases, new injuries may be compensable, even if you aggravated an existing condition.

Contact a personal injury attorney in Ontario to discover more about how your pre-existing injuries may affect the amount of your current personal injury settlement.


Plaintiffs in personal injury cases seek compensation to place themselves in the same position as if the defendant had not injured them. Accordingly, the purpose of the tort system is to keep the plaintiff in the same place as they would have been otherwise.

In Canadian courtrooms, metaphors such as “thin skull” and “crumbling skull” describe returning the plaintiff to their initial position.

As per the thin skull theory, even if a plaintiff is more vulnerable to injury than others, a defendant is required to compensate them for their injuries.

According to the “crumbling skull” rule, a defendant is not obligated to compensate a plaintiff for an injury suffered prior to the lawsuit or its eventual outcome. Our intention is not to improve the plaintiff’s position but to return them to their original one.

In a case involving pre-existing injuries, these two notions play a critical role in determining the proper amount of damages. Therefore, they are vital to the settlement process.


Settlements involve the plaintiff having their right to file suit against the defendant waived in exchange for compensation. When the plaintiff wins a lawsuit, they usually receive less than they were entitled to. Getting a settlement is preferable to going to trial because it saves time, money, and uncertainty.

Before settling, a party looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the plaintiff’s claim and any defenses the defendant may present. The party will consider each case’s circumstances and how the law applies to those facts.

For example, in a pre-existing injury claim, the plaintiff and defendant would consider whether the plaintiff’s excessive damages were the result of thick skulls, which are unusually vulnerable to injuries, or of crumbling skulls, which would occur regardless of the injury.

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