What If My Accident Makes a Pre-Existing Injury Worse?

One common question that our Charlotte accident attorneys hear from potential clients is “What if my accident makes a pre-existing injury worse?” In general, North Carolina law allows you to seek compensation if an accident aggravates or worsens a pre-existing condition.

However, the process of getting justice may be more complicated in this situation.

Understanding Pre-Existing Conditions

A pre-existing condition is any health issue that existed prior to the accident. This could range from degenerative disc disease to a prior traumatic brain injury. When an accident occurs, these conditions can be aggravated, leading to increased pain and symptoms.

The Legal Standpoint

In North Carolina, the law recognizes the right of an injured victim to recover not just for a new injury, but also for an aggravation or exacerbation of a prior health condition. This is a critical aspect of personal injury law in the state, and it’s important to understand how it works.

The Eggshell Skull Rule

One of the key legal principles at play here is the “Eggshell Skull Rule”. This rule is sometimes referred to as the “Eggshell Skull Doctrine.” The key point is that a defendant can be held accountable for all injuries sustained by the plaintiff, even if the plaintiff has a pre-existing physical or mental condition that makes them more prone to injury.

Pattern Jury Instructions

Another crucial element is the application of pattern jury instructions. These are guidelines given to the jury to aid them in comprehending the law and applying it to the case’s facts. 

In personal injury cases involving pre-existing conditions, one of the pattern jury instructions utilized by North Carolina judges clarifies that the term “injury” encompasses “all legally recognized forms of personal harm, including the activation or reactivation of a disease or the exacerbation of an existing condition.”

people with a pre-existing condition are eligible for compensation after an accident

The Peculiar Susceptibility Defense

There is one notable exception to these rules: the “peculiar susceptibility” defense. This applies when the accident could not have caused any injury to an ordinary person. However, this line of defense is rarely successful, as it requires the defendant to prove that the accident was not the cause of the plaintiff’s worsened condition.

In conclusion, North Carolina law provides robust protections for individuals whose pre-existing conditions are worsened by an accident. It’s always advisable to consult with a Charlotte accident attorney to understand how these laws apply to your specific situation.

Insurance Companies and Pre-Existing Conditions

Insurance companies often use the “pre-existing condition” defense to deny valid claims. They may assert that the injury is a “pre-existing condition” and use this as a reason to minimize or deny a claim. However, this is not in line with North Carolina law, which recognizes a right to recover not just for a direct, new injury, but also for an aggravation, exacerbation, or activation of a prior health condition.

The Role of Medical Records

Medical records play a crucial role in these cases. They can provide clear evidence that the prior condition was drastically changed as a result of the accident. Therefore, it’s important to seek medical attention after an accident for a thorough examination, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

Seeking Legal Help from a Charlotte Accident Attorney

If you find yourself in a situation where your pre-existing condition has been aggravated by an accident, it’s advisable to seek legal help. An experienced Charlotte injury attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the law and ensure that your rights are protected.

While pre-existing conditions can complicate the process of seeking compensation after an accident, they do not disqualify you from pursuing a valid case. Under North Carolina law, you have the right to seek compensation for the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions caused by an accident.

Your rights are protected. Contact our firm at 704-706-2689 today to schedule your free consultation and get your case reviewed by one of our experienced attorneys.