Even minor car accidents can cause major damage to the head, neck, back, and other bodily systems. Car accidents can also make a pre-existing injury or condition much worse than it was prior. This may result in even more medical bills, physical therapy bills, and lost wages than you had before the accident. So you may be wondering: can I sue if a car accident aggravated pre-existing condition? The short answer is yes, but it’s complicated. If this is your current situation, you need to consult with an Albany personal injury lawyer from Bailey, Johnson & Peck. We can protect your legal rights and help you seek compensation. Call 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation today.
Common Types of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions That Can Be Aggravated in a Car Accident
Car accidents can aggravate a wide variety of pre-existing conditions including:
- Traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion
- Back injury or spinal cord injury
- Herniated discs
- Neck pain from radiculopathy, for example
- Knee pain
- Muscle sprains and strains
- Previous fractures and dislocations
- Heart problems
- Degenerative disc disease
- And more
If a car crash aggravated one of these pre-existing injuries or conditions, you have grounds to contact our team of Albany personal injury attorneys.
How Does a Pre-Existing Condition Complicate a Personal Injury Claim?
A pre-existing injury or condition that’s made worse during a car crash can complicate the average personal injury case. That’s because in cases like this, the at fault party will compensate the injured person for the injuries and other monetary losses that they directly caused. A pre-existing chronic illness or injury is not something that the at fault party caused in the car accident.
Also, depending on the plaintiff’s condition, it can be difficult to determine if the accident actually caused more pain and other health issues. Both the human body and chronic conditions are very complex, so the causation factor can be difficult, especially without strong pieces of evidence like prior medical records.
In most cases though, plaintiffs should be able to recover damages for re-aggravated injuries or conditions. With the right legal team on your side, you can prove that a driver’s negligence made your pre-existing condition worse, and therefore, you should receive a fair car accident settlement.
How to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident
Proving negligence is crucial in any car accident case. But proving negligence can be a bit different when a car accident aggravates a pre-existing injury or condition. Instead of proving that the at fault driver directly caused an injury, you would have to prove that the at fault driver directly caused the aggravation of a pre-existing injury or condition. You’ll have to do this through the four elements of negligence.
- Duty of Care: All drivers on the roads owe each other a specific duty of care. In other words, all drivers should be focused, sober, and careful in order to protect themselves and others.
- Breached Duty of Care: The negligent driver breached this duty of care.
- Causation: The driver’s negligence directly caused a pre-existing injury or medical condition to get worse. This can be proven through the victim’s medical history.
- Damages: The victim suffered a variety of damages – such as more pain and financial distress from additional treatment – for which they should receive fair compensation.
Proving the four elements of negligence is often difficult for injury victims to do on their own. That’s why it’s crucial to contact an Albany personal injury lawyer at Bailey, Johnson & Peck if you think a driver’s negligence made your pre-existing injury or condition worse. We can help you determine if you have grounds to sue the defendant, prove the elements of negligence, gather sufficient evidence, and seek compensation.
Pre-Existing Conditions and Causation
Causation is generally the most difficult element of negligence to prove in any personal injury case. Still, it’s more straightforward than proving that a car accident caused your pre-existing injuries to get worse. All you would have to do in a regular personal injury case is prove through medical history that you now have an injury that you didn’t have prior to the accident.
For example, let’s say that you had a pre-existing back injury, like a herniated disc, that got worse during a car crash. You could prove through medical history that you definitely suffered from this injury prior to the crash. You could also explain how your pain was only really distracting on certain days, and so all you had to do to manage the pain on those days was take over-the-counter pain medication.
After the crash, maybe you have more than one herniated disc or your pre-existing herniated disc pain is just unbearable most days. In order to manage this pain, maybe you now have prescription medication that you have to take every day. Maybe you also have to take steroids to reduce inflammation and also see a chiropractor on a regular basis.
All of this evidence can help strengthen your personal injury claim, however, it’s still very possible for defendants or insurance companies to claim that you’re not being truthful about your pain. That’s why you shouldn’t pursue compensation without an experienced legal team on your side.
Pre-Existing Conditions and Damages
Calculating exact damages for car crash claims is, again, fairly straightforward. Generally, an insurance company or a legal team will add up all the costs of medical bills, physical therapy bills, lost wages, and car damage. They may also add a multiplier if significant pain, suffering, and emotional distress is involved. The result is how much the plaintiff would get in damages.
Calculating damages for a pre-existing medical condition or injury that was aggravated in a crash is different. If you are able to prove that your pre-existing injury did in fact get worse after the accident, the defendant would only be responsible for paying for your additional treatment as opposed to all of your past treatments. So in the case of aggravated back injuries, the at fault driver would probably only compensate you for the cost of prescription medication, chiropractic treatments, and maybe even corrective surgery.
Still, you’re likely going to struggle with the defendant and their legal team claiming that the amount of compensation you’re asking for is excessive.
What is the Eggshell Plaintiff Doctrine?
The eggshell rule, also commonly known as the thin skull rule, is a legal doctrine that states that the at fault party is liable for all injuries that the victim receives during an accident, regardless of what their pre-existing condition or injury was before the accident.
So, in other words, it doesn’t matter if an average person would have come out of an accident less injured. Even though a pre-existing injury or condition made the person more vulnerable in an accident, and even though the negligent driver could not have predicted the severity of the crash injuries, they should still provide fair compensation.
Car Accident Aggravated Pre-Existing Condition? Call Albany Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey, Johnson & Peck Today
If someone else’s negligence on the roads caused your previous injury or health condition to get worse, you could recover damages through a car accident claim. Our experienced legal team has decades of combined experience in handling all sorts of personal injury cases. We have what it takes to defend your rights and help you recover fair compensation either through an insurance company or a personal injury lawsuit. Call 518-456-0082 to schedule a free consultation today.