This Is What Happens When A New Accident Aggravates Prior Injuries
If you were involved in a car accident that you feel has aggravated previous injuries or a pre-existing condition, there are definite and necessary steps you need to take to ensure you receive proper compensation.
Document the injuryTo build your case, you need to document your injury using photographs, statements, and medical records (CT or MRI scans or anything the doctor may recommend as appropriate for that particular injury), including medical bills. It is preferable that you consult a physician immediately. If possible, your regular physician or the one who has been treating your previous condition or injury. Your physician's testimony, together with those of the other witnesses and with the medical records, may prove the degree to which your daily functioning was affected by the accident. Doctors and witnesses, for instance, can explain that while you did suffer from back problems before, you had not complained of back pain in months, whereas the car accident you were involved in caused a severe aggravation or exacerbation of your pain.
It is useful to have the doctors who have previously treated you testify to your aggravated condition, as their knowledge of your medical history lends credibility to your claim.
Disclose previous injuriesMake sure that all your previous conditions are fully disclosed, so that you do not appear dishonest as the insurance company or defense attorney reveal previous injuries you may have suffered. They will most likely attempt to deny financial responsibility by showing that the condition was pre-existing and that the accident had no direct effect on your condition. It is important to preempt these arguments by fully revealing previous injuries and documenting a worsening condition following the car crash.
Insurance companies, through claims adjusters, will most often attempt to show that your pain is caused by a degenerative condition (as caused by age, for instance) or a previous accident. Your full disclosure of these conditions will come with proof that, pre-existing though these conditions may have been, they were not manifest at the time of the accident. Instead, the accident aggravated or exacerbated them.
Damages for aggravation of preexisting conditionsThe requirement to award proper damages applies regardless of the severity of your pre-existing condition due to the so-called "eggshell skull" theory. This theory states that the victims' injuries must be taken as they are, whether the victim was already extremely sensitive, with a skull, for instance, as sensitive as an eggshell, or not. In other words, however severe your pre-existing condition may have been, you are still entitled to damages once you prove it has been made demonstrably worse by the accident.
The damages you receive will reflect the percentage of injury that is directly caused by the accident. However, should your case come to trial, if the jury cannot determine that the condition would have existed apart from the injury or the percentage of it which was caused by the accident, then you should be awarded damages for the entire condition.