As Las Vegas personal injury lawyers, we are often asked about what happens if you’re involved in an accident but already have some sort of preexisting condition. Can you still recover damages if you had an existing condition before the accident?
Is it possible, for example, to make a personal injury claim against a supermarket where you slipped and fell, causing problems to a hip where you’d already had previous problems?
Can You Make A Personal Injury Claim For The Aggravation Of A Preexisting Condition?
To make sure everything is clear, in legal terms, a preexisting condition or injury is something that affected the claimant before the injury their claim is based upon happened.
If it happens that the existing problem, such as in our example above, is in the same part of the body as that which was affected in the new accident, it can make settlement negotiations difficult or make it harder for a jury to decide exactly what type of compensation you should be entitled to.
This type of thing comes up a lot, especially with spinal injuries. Gravity itself takes a toll on the spine over the years and there are plenty of people out there who’ve injured their backs from jobs where they did either a lot of heavy lifting or far too much sitting for years at a time.
What Does It Mean To Aggravate A Preexisting Condition?
To put it simply aggravating a preexisting condition means making some sort of injury worse. For example, a man may have an old injury that causes him to limp somewhat when he walks. He is then hit by a taxi while crossing the street and is forced to wear a brace on his leg to be able to walk freely in the future. Had he not been struck by the car, he never would have needed the brace to walk. This would be an aggravation of his previous injury. It is, in a nutshell, causing more damage than what already existed.
What Effects Can A Preexisting Condition Have On My Claim?
The first major difference is that if you were only hurt where you had previous problems, your personal injury claim will become an aggravation claim. It’s the same basic idea, but the case won’t exactly about you getting hurt, it will be about how getting hurt made your condition worse—which makes things a bit more tricky.
Opposing legal teams and insurance companies will be very quick to claim that you were already hurt and that they shouldn’t be held responsible where you can’t prove exactly how much of your injury is actually their responsibility.
A lot of the case will involve your attorney trying to establish what your state of health was like before and after the accident. This may mean undergoing tests with your doctor, going to see specialists, and almost certainly testimony from medical experts that can provide some kind of insight into how your health or level of pain has changed.
Evidence used may include medical records, work records, witness accounts of the accident, mobility testing, and more.
Even if you don’t have a lot of recent medical records that have to do with your condition, this in itself can help to prove that there has been significant aggravation. If you weren’t seeing a doctor regularly and then suddenly had to make several visits or were taking minor pain medication and now need surgery, this helps to prove there was a significant aggravation of your preexisting condition.
The Eggshell Plaintiffs Doctrine In Nevada.
In Nevada and many other states, there is what is known as the Eggshell Plaintiffs Doctrine. This Doctrine states that a negligent or liable party is responsible for injuries to those with a preexisting condition. The original idea of this doctrine came from the words of a 1940 decision made by the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The basic idea is this, “The eggshell plaintiff doctrine states that [w]here a tort is committed, and injury may reasonably be anticipated, the wrongdoer is liable for the proximate results of that injury, although the consequences are more serious than they would have been, had the injured person been in perfect health….”
Under Nevada state law, defendants are required to take plaintiffs as they are, regardless of whether or not they are in perfect health or already injured. Defendants can be found liable against plaintiffs with or without preexisting conditions within the state of Nevada.
Many court decisions that back up the eggshell plaintiff doctrine can be found in the texts of the following cases as well as others:
Speak With An Experienced Nevada Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve been involved in an accident that has aggravated a preexisting condition, our experienced team of Las Vegas personal injury attorneys may be able to help you. We’re here to fight for your right and we will do our best to make sure that you get the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries.
Your first consultation is free and confidential. You can reach us online anytime or you can call us at (866) 412-7166 to arrange an appointment. We’ll be happy to go over the details of your case and discuss exactly what we can do to help you.