Car accidents wreak havoc with your life: they cause trauma and injury, they force you to incur unexpected expenses, and they can exacerbate pre-existing medical conditions or injuries.
The Connection Between Pre-existing Medical Conditions and a Car Accident.
The underlying legal theory in a personal injury action is to obtain compensation for the injured person (“plaintiff”) from the at-fault party (“defendant”) to pay for the damage done to the plaintiff.
The idea is to make the plaintiff “whole.” In other words, to, as closely as possible, return the plaintiff to the position he or she was in before the accident or injury occurred.
Broadly speaking, when it comes to personal injury actions, this means paying the plaintiff for all costs associated with any property damage incurred, as well as paying all medical costs, to return the plaintiff to the same level of mental and physical health he or she enjoyed before the accident.
This does not mean, however, that the defendant is responsible for putting the plaintiff in a better condition than he or she was in before the accident.
So, for example, if the car the plaintiff was driving was a second-hand Volkswagen Bug, and it was totaled in the accident, the defendant would not have to pay plaintiff to replace it with a Ferrari. Or, if the plaintiff had a slipped disc at the time of the accident, unless the plaintiff can prove that the accident made the condition worse, the defendant will not have to pay for plaintiff’s slipped disc. (To the extent the accident aggravated the condition —and the plaintiff can prove that—the defendant would have to pay for making the condition worse.)
When it comes to pre-existing conditions (which can be either chronic conditions or prior injuries), personal injury cases get complicated.
That’s because there are competing legal theories at work here. One is that the defendant must put the plaintiff in as good a condition (i.e., make the plaintiff “whole”) as he or she was before the accident, and the other is that the defendant is not responsible for paying for damage he or she did not cause.
The end result is that insurance companies and personal injury attorneys spend a lot of time arguing over whether or not the accident itself was the actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, and/or to what extent the accident aggravated injuries the plaintiff already had.
Having a pre-existing condition will not prevent you from recovering compensation for the injuries the at-fault defendant caused. It simply makes proving exactly what those injuries were, and what the defendant must pay for, much more complicated. Which is why it is critical to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.