Obtaining Compensation for Pre-Existing Injuries Exacerbated in an Accident
California law recognizes that many injury victims have pre-existing conditions that can be made worse by an accident. Under the eggshell skull doctrine, a defendant cannot escape liability because the plaintiff is more susceptible to injury compared to a normal person. In other words, the person at-fault for the accident takes the victim as they are not as the average person might be.
At Westlake Injury Law, we fight for our clients to receive the maximum compensation allowed based on all of their injuries, including those made worse by the accident. We have recovered millions on behalf of injury victims, including a $1 million settlement for a client whose pre-existing injuries were exacerbated in a bus accident.
If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact our office at (805) 338-6880 for a free consultation.
Unusually Susceptible Plaintiff in California
In general, a person injured in an accident is not entitled to compensation for a pre-existing condition or injury. However, if that physical or emotional condition is made worse by the accident, then they may recover the damages necessary to compensate them for the full extent of the injury.
Known as the “eggshell skull doctrine” or “eggshell plaintiff rule,” the principle requires that a defendant takes a plaintiff as they find them. For example, if an injured party has a pre-existing herniated disc that is aggravated by a car accident caused by another driver. The at-fault driver must provide compensation for the effect on the herniated disc or to the extent it was made worse.
If you do have pre-existing conditions made worse by an accident, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in eggshell plaintiff cases.
Jury Instructions Regarding Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or Disability
There are two basic jury instructions that are given regarding pre-existing conditions made worse during accidents. CACI No. 3927 “Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or Disability” states that while a plaintiff is not entitled to damages for conditions that they had prior to the accident or wrongful conduct, they are entitled to fair compensation for any effect that the accident had on those conditions.
CACI No. 3928 indicates that a jury must decide what would be reasonable and fair compensation for all of the person’s injuries that were caused by the defendant, even if the plaintiff was “more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person would have been.”
Therefore, a defendant does not escape liability just because a normal, healthy person would not have suffered the same injuries in the accident.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve
If you have a pre-existing condition that was aggravated in an accident, contact our office at (805) 338-6880 for a free consultation. Our lawyers know how to maximize your recovery to get you every dollar you deserve. Pre-existing conditions can be difficult to prove on your own. Do not settle for less than your case is worth. Call now to get started.