A car crash can aggravate dormant pre-existing injuries from a previous incident causing them to flair back up with pain and complications. When this occurs, a court can award damages to pre-existing conditions.
Collecting Damages for Pre-Existing Injuries
New accidents can have an impact on pre-existing injuries, causing them to worsen or develop new complications that were not previously a problem. Many such cases involve serious car crashes that re-injure or complicate previous injuries, especially to the back, spine, neck, and head. Even when old injuries to certain areas have healed, a high-impact car crash can cause aggravated pre-existing injuries that lead to pain and medical complications.
A pre-existing injury refers to any injury suffered prior to new injuries sustained in an accident. Personal injury claims often address pre-existing injuries and conditions that must be disclosed in a lawsuit. Pre-existing injuries and medical conditions are considered by the court and factored into the calculations for damages awarded for new injuries. While any previous physical injury or medical condition can be considered pre-existing, the court will look at the impact of pre-existing injuries on new injuries. Common pre-existing injuries may include:
- Physical injuries suffered from a previous unrelated accident
- Physical injuries that are still healing or have not healed properly
- Injuries aggravated by stressful situations
- Birth defects
- Congenital abnormalities
- Inherited medical conditions
When certain injuries occur to the body, those areas are more prone to successive injuries in the future. To compensate for this, some states enforce laws that require insurance companies to pay damages for aggravated pre-existing conditions caused by auto accidents. Although a pre-existing injury or medical condition will not disqualify damages in a personal injury claim, it may impact the value of the claim.
The law looks at what’s called the “eggshell doctrine,” when determining recovery of damages for an injury victim. In a car crash caused by a negligent party, financial liability cannot be dismissed simply because the injured party is more vulnerable due to a pre-existing injury or medical condition. If a personal injury lawsuit is filed, the negligent party may be required to pay damages for pre-existing injuries that become worse due to the car accident, if it is proven in court that the accident aggravated the victim’s old injuries.