The below information was written by our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach.
In Virginia, a driver whose negligence causes an automobile accident, resulting in the aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition of an innocent plaintiff, is responsible for the increased severity of the plaintiff’s pre-existing medical condition, but the negligent driver is not responsible for the pre-existing condition. This is sometimes called the eggshell plaintiff rule, which means that the defendant takes the plaintiff as he or she finds the plaintiff, and therefore, the defendant is responsible for any worsening of the plaintiff’s condition caused by the accident, even if a plaintiff in good health would not have been injured as badly as the plaintiff with the pre-existing medical condition.
One of the most common examples of an aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition arising from an automobile accident is when a plaintiff has a prior history of neck pain and then suffers a whiplash injury in the accident in question. The plaintiff in that situation will not be entitled to compensation for his or her pre-existing neck problems, but the plaintiff will be entitled to compensation for the worsening of his or her neck problems caused by the accident. Depending on the severity of this hypothetical plaintiff’s pre-existing neck problems and the severity of the accident that aggravated the plaintiff’s neck problems, it is possible that the aggravation of the plaintiff’s condition could be very serious, requiring extensive medical treatment and causing significant pain and suffering. To the extent that this hypothetical plaintiff was caused to undergo medical treatment and pain and suffering, he or she is entitled to money damages from the defendant. For more information on what a plaintiff is entitled to compensation for in a personal injury claim, click here.
However, the hypothetical plaintiff discussed above would not be entitled to seek recovery from the hypothetical defendant for any worsening of his or her condition that would have occurred in the absence of the accident that worsened his or her condition. An example of the worsening of a pre-existing condition that would have occurred in the absence of the accident would be a plaintiff who develops arthritis following an accident, but who would have developed the same arthritis regardless of whether the accident occurred. Using the example of our hypothetical plaintiff, if he or she was going to develop arthritis due to his or her pre-existing neck condition, then the hypothetical plaintiff cannot recover for the arthritis in his or her neck, unless the arthritis was brought on sooner and/or made worse by the accident.
Questions regarding injuries a plaintiff can seek compensation for, including an aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition, are specific to the facts of the individual personal injury case, and we encourage you to contact one of our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach. We can determine whether the plaintiff has a condition that would be considered a pre-existing medical condition and whether the plaintiff’s treatment and pain and suffered was caused by the accident in question. Our personal injury lawyers can also advise the injured person as to the value of the personal injury claim, can guide the injured person through the process of making an injury claim with the applicable insurance company or companies, and can represent the injured person in the litigation of the personal injury claim, if a personal injury lawsuit becomes necessary.
Waiting can hurt your case. To find out how our personal injury lawyers in Virginia Beach can help you, please contact us at (757) 486-2700.