When Another Adds Injury to Injury

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Those injured by accidents sometimes mistakenly believe that their prior injury or other preexisting condition weakens their personal-injury claim over a new accident. The opposite is true. What clients sometimes assume is a weak case can, with the skilled representation of a McCraw Law Group lawyer, be a stronger-than-ever case for the preexisting condition’s aggravation.

Life Is Managing Conditions

Serious-injury accidents caused by another’s carelessness are bad stuff. Broken bones, torn ligaments, head injuries, and similar results of trauma can be horrible conditions from which to recover. Good thing, then, that negligence law allows the injured person to make an insurance recovery from the careless actor who caused the traumatic injury.

But what happens when the person whom another’s accident injures was already in a weakened condition?

Many of us make our way through life with chronic conditions, disabilities, or other ailments with which we struggle but learn to deal to carry on a relatively normal life. That preexisting condition may be a weak neck, back, elbow, hip, or knee, perhaps one injured as a child or young adult. It could be diabetes, a weak heart, or a mental-health issue like periodic anxiety or depression.

We probably all have some health issue or genetic predisposition toward some health issue, whether we know it or not. Indeed, physicians tell us that health is more precarious than we often think, like a time bomb waiting to go off. And the trauma of an accident caused by another’s negligence is often the spark that sets off the time bomb of a preexisting condition.

Taking the Injured Person as Found

Every lawyer practicing in the personal injury field knows that a motor vehicle accident, product failure, boating accident, or other trauma caused by another’s negligence can suddenly make intolerable a preexisting condition, ruining a formerly decent life. We’ve all seen it: clients who had manageable preexisting conditions that an accident, sometimes not even that traumatic of an accident, made unmanageable to the point of life-shattering disability.

Often, for motor-vehicle accidents especially, those conditions are of the neck and spine. A weak neck or back, even with foraminal narrowing and disc herniations, may be asymptomatic until the accident ruptures the disc. Similarly, a trip and fall can wrench a bad knee that the client had nursed pretty well through life, tearing ligaments that require surgical repair. Clients even manage mental health issues like anxiety and depression reasonably well until the physical pain and other severe stress of an accident plunges them over the figurative cliff. Don’t be surprised at the aggravation. We’re not.

Fortunately, the Texas law of damages permits the injured person to recover for the aggravation or exacerbation of the preexisting condition. Texas Pattern Jury Charge 8.8 tells a jury “not [to] include any amount for any condition existing before the occurrence in question, except to the extent, if any, that such condition was aggravated by any injuries that resulted from the occurrence in question.” Although this jury charge puts it in the negative, the law is, in short, that you recover for a preexisting condition’s aggravation.

Lawyers know this law as the eggshell-skull rule from an old English case allowing recovery for a skull fracture, even though the injured person’s skull was already unusually thin and thus weakened before the accident. The law’s policy is to protect the weak just as much as the strong. The defendant must take the plaintiff as the defendant finds the plaintiff, whether weak or strong.

So, don’t sell your injury short. Law entitles you to a full recovery for everything the defendant caused.

Proving It

Of course, your lawyer needs to plead and prove the preexisting condition and its aggravation, something that McCraw Law Group lawyers know well how to do. That proof requires knowing the condition and how trauma affects it. Our lawyers use medical testimony, records, and images, and the testimony of the client and those who knew the client before and after the accident, to prove the condition’s aggravation.

Just know that the McCraw Law Group’s lawyers have the experience, commitment, and above all the compassion to take what looks like a weak case and make it stronger than ever. Call any time day or night, weekday or weekend, or go online, for a free consultation. Don’t diminish your claim, and don’t delay. Get what you deserve, that to which the law entitles you.