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Prior Injuries and Exacerbating of Previous Conditions

If you find that a prior injury has gotten worse due to an accident, don’t worry – the law still allows you to recover, even for the full extent of the injury in some circumstances. Car accidents often result in your existing injuries becoming much worse or cause pre-existing conditions to light up and become symptomatic. No one is perfect and most people have some prior back problems, be it a prior strain or sprain or a prior surgery.

Washington follows what is known as the “egg shell” plaintiff rule. This means that if you had some condition or predilection that made you more likely to become injured, you still deserve compensation for the full extent of your injury. The classic example of an “egg-shell” plaintiff is someone with a thin skull who is hit lightly on the head but suffers severe injuries due to the thin skull. The law still requires that the person be compensated for the severe injury, even though a normal person would have walked away fine. The courts adopted this rule into our jury instructions which indicate that a unique susceptibility does not create a defense.  More Here

Washington courts and laws require compensation depending on whether or not your injury was symptomatic – meaning that you were experiencing pain at the time, or asymptomatic – meaning that you had some underlying condition that was not causing you any pain or discomfort. If the condition was symptomatic, you can be compensated for the degree that the injury was exacerbated and the time until the injury returned to the pre-car accident level condition.

If your condition was not symptomatic and the car accident lights up the condition for the first time, the law entitles you to compensation for the full extent of the injury. An example would be if you had cartilage damage in your knee that never caused you any problems until you slam your knee into the dashboard and then find out your prior cartilage tear has now spread throughout your meniscus and require surgery, you can claim all the surgery and resulting pain and suffering and long term problems, if any, as part of your claim.

We are not scared to take on cases where people have what the insurance companies call “pre-existing conditions.” If you’re dealing with insurance lingo like “temporary exacerbation of a pre-existing condition,” call us – we hear this language all the time and can help you fight back for the compensation you deserve.

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