Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition in Accident Lawsuits | Michigan Injury Lawyer
Quite often, the injury victim had the same or similar medical condition or injury before being involved in the second accident. When a person is re-injured in a same or similar manner, it is often referred to as an “aggravation of a pre-existing condition” or the “exacerbation of a pre-existing injury.” This is essentially the language to explain that a previous condition was made worse or has become more symptomatic after an accident. When this occurs, the injury victim is still entitled to compensation for the worsening of the condition.
Under Michigan law, there is a specific jury instruction that is read by the trial judge to the jury on this issue. This allows the jury to award damages for the aggravation of the underlying or pre-existing condition.
M Civ JI 50.04 Element of Damage—Aggravation of Preexisting Ailment or Condition
… the *(increase in [Describe.] arising from aggravation of a preexisting ailment or condition)
Aggravations of pre-existing conditions are frequently seen in cases involving back injuries, neck injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. For example, a person with a prior herniated disc in the low back is in a rear-end car accident. Prior to the accident, the person was functioning with occasional pain and discomfort but was able to work and perform typical activities of daily living. As a result of the accident, the herniation worsens and is now symptomatic. The person now needs surgery because of the herniation is much more severe and disabling.
Defense attorneys and insurance companies often try to argue that the accident did not cause a new condition or even worsen a previous condition to avoid paying a fair settlement. They retain hired gun insurance doctors to testify that the accident did not cause any injuries whatsoever and that the disabling condition was simply a previous condition. Therefore, they argue that they owe no compensation to the injury victim.
Our Michigan personal injury lawyers handle these cases regularly and know how to battle the hired gun doctors. We rely on the medical records and radiology studies both before and after the accident to prove the aggravation of the pre-existing condition. Many of our most significant settlements are from cases in which our client had an underlying or pre-existing condition.