Sometimes personal injury accidents aggravate the victim’s existing injuries. For example, a car crash victim’s back injury may have been made worse by the trauma he or she suffered in the crash. The victim may have had a herniated disc before the crash and the collision may have caused more damage to the disc.
While insurance companies do not have to provide compensation for an existing injury, victims may be able to recover compensation for aggravation of an existing injury. Your lawyer would need to provide evidence about how the accident aggravated your existing injury.
This often involves differentiating between symptoms you suffered before the accident and symptoms you suffered after the accident. For example, the amount of pain you experience each day may have increased, or you may need to see doctors more frequently or undergo different forms of treatment.
Understanding the ‘Eggshell Plaintiff’ Rule
Parties that cause injuries to others cannot claim they should be absolved from liability because the victim had a preexisting injury.
Even though you were more likely to be injured because of your existing medical issues, the “eggshell plaintiff” rule protects vulnerable individuals’ rights to pursue compensation for damages caused by another’s negligent actions. This means the at-fault party can be held liable for injuries caused by negligence, regardless of whether you were more susceptible to injury.
Preexisting Injuries That are Often Aggravated by an Accident
There are any number of injuries that could be made worse in an accident like a car crash. This could include but is not limited to:
- Fractured bones
- Back pain
- Sprained or strained ligaments, tendons or other soft tissues
- Brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Pain in the neck
- Herniated discs
Preexisting Medical Issues That are Often Aggravated by Accidents
Sometimes accident victims do not have an existing injury but a long-term medical problem, like arthritis or diabetes. These and other conditions could be aggravated by injuries suffered in an accident, such as:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Cardiovascular problems
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- And more
How Preexisting Conditions/Injuries Make Claims More Complicated
One of the central issues in a personal injury case is liability. Victims must establish another party is liable for their damages, otherwise victims cannot recover compensation from that party.
Preexisting medical problems can make things more complicated because it can be challenging to prove an accident caused existing medical issues to get worse. The party that caused the accident cannot be held liable for a preexisting medical problem unless you can establish aggravation of the preexisting medical problem.
You must differentiate between your condition before the accident and your condition afterward, which requires detailed analysis and medical proof. Victims also need to be detailed in their discussions with doctors so doctors can document how an injury is worse after an accident.
Linking an Aggravated Injury to the Accident
It is much easier to connect back pain to an accident if the victim had no history of back pain or other issues.
However, if the victim already had back pain, it becomes quite challenging to show specifically how the accident worsened existing back pain. The at-fault party already has a ready-made excuse for your medical issues and the burden of proof in an accident claim is on the victim.
Your Lafayette car crash lawyer would need to get into significant detail about your medical problems. For example, if you had back pain flare up three or four times per month before the accident, but now it flares up five or six times per month, you would need to provide medical records/doctor notes that say this.
Medical imaging from X-rays or MRIs can be helpful, particularly if you can compare it to imaging tests done before the accident.
If you need a stronger prescription for pain medication, or if you are seeing the doctor more often for your preexisting medical problem after an accident, evidence of this could bolster your claim. Think of it this way: not needing extensive care until the accident could help show worsening of an existing injury. For example, if you need surgery but did not before the accident, it could help prove aggravation of an injury.
The liable party’s insurance company will certainly argue you are exaggerating your injuries to try to get more money. No matter how outlandish this argument may be, it is still up to you and your lawyer to dispute it.
Your lawyer may need to go beyond medical records to prove your claim. For example, employment records could show the severity of your injuries. If you rarely missed work before the accident but are unable to work after the accident, especially if you cannot work for a significant time, it could be an indicator of a worsening injury.
You may still be able to work but you may need to avoid physically demanding tasks or sit down more often. You may need to take more frequent breaks.
Statements from family, friends and coworkers could be used to bolster claims about aggravation of preexisting injuries. For example, they may be able to explain how you have had to limit physical activity and hobbies you used to enjoy, such as going to the gym, hiking or playing sports.
People you hired to assist you with housework after the accident may be able to back up claims about your current pain level and level of activity.
Placing a Value on Pain and Suffering
There are likely going to be economic damages if your preexisting injury got worse in the accident. This could include the cost of doctors’ appointments and prescription medication.
However, you may be eligible for compensation for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or lost enjoyment of life. The value of these damages is harder to establish because these damages are subjective.
This is one of the reasons it is vital to have an attorney advocating for you throughout the legal process. At Galloway Jefcoat, we know how to evaluate pain and suffering and build a strong claim for damages.
Did Your Existing Injury Get Worse? Call Today
Proving that an existing injury got worse is a challenge, which is why victims need legal help. At Galloway Jefcoat, we have been helping injury victims for decades and have extensive knowledge of the many aspects of injury cases and the legal process.
Our services come with no upfront cost. More importantly, we are deeply committed to helping injury victims secure full compensation for their damages. We are here to manage your claim so you can stay focused on your medical treatment.
Contact Galloway Jefcoat today to learn more: (337) 984-8020.