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A pre-existing condition is a condition that existed prior to the current condition, and is commonly used in the context of insurance and personal injury claims. Under insurance contracts, there may be an exclusion for certain conditions that existed prior to or at the time of entering into the contract. Also, a failure to disclose a prior condition on an insurance application may preclude its coverage after acceptance as an insured.
In tort law, a person claiming to be injured as the result of another's negligence must show a causal connection between the negligent act and injury suffered. A defendant may use a plaintiff's pre-existing condition to rebut this element of causation. If the defendant can show that the injury is due to the some prior cause, or only exacerbated a previous injury, the defendant's liability can be avoided or mitigated.