Pre-existing conditions may increase or decrease a car accident settlement, depending on the specifics of the case. A defendant is not legally responsible for a pre-existing condition, but they are liable for extra damage caused by the crash. A Virginia car accident lawyer from our firm can help you understand what role your pre-existing conditions may play in your settlement.
How prior injuries affect liability in Virginia
In Virginia, an individual may file a lawsuit against a liable driver who caused their injuries. Pre-existing conditions can affect how much the accident was to blame.
There is a legal principle that is referred to as the “eggshell skull doctrine.” It is classically illustrated with a Humpty Dumpty-like plaintiff with a fragile skull; if a defendant’s actions injured the plaintiff, they are liable even though the plaintiff was prone to more significant injury than a typical person.
However, a defendant is not liable for the injury that existed before the accident. Commonly, defense lawyers request medical records and other documents to limit the extent that the defendant is held responsible. Your personal injury attorney should be prepared to address your injuries so that they are fully accounted for.
The effect of pre-existing injuries on the settlement value
To the extent that a pre-existing condition leads to greater physical injury, it can increase the value of an accident settlement. Imagine that you suffer from a disorder that makes you more prone to broken bones, and you are involved in a rear-end collision resulting in several fractures. Even if the accident had not caused a fracture in a healthy person, the at-fault driver would still be liable.
If some of the physical effects of an injury were present before the accident, the problems experienced before the accident would not be included in the settlement value. For example, you sustained a back injury playing sports when you were younger and still experienced pain from that prior injury at the time of a car accident. The amount of compensation you can recover due to back pain would be reduced depending on how much of it is attributable to the older injury.
How an attorney can help when you have a pre-existing condition
Proving pre-existing injuries can become a focal point in litigation. Attorneys on both sides often end up combing medical records, even relying on expert witnesses to prove either that the crash did not cause the injury or that the accident significantly worsened the condition. Car accident lawyers play a critical role in showing the injuries were directly related to the crash.
Contact us today for a free consultation
At Rutter Mills understand the impact prior injuries can have on your claim, and we are prepared to fight for the full value of your claim. If you have been injured in a car accident, call today to schedule a free consultation.
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