Can a Pre-Existing Ailment Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Wisconsin?
Injuries can be sustained at any time, and they can require extensive amounts of rehabilitation before fully healing. Furthermore, injuries can remain dormant, not fully developing until a later period of time. When a person suffers a personal injury due to another person's negligence, he or she may seek compensation from the negligent party. However, situations in which a pre-existing injury has worsened due to an accident can be complex, and demonstrating the full impact of these types of injuries may be difficult. In these cases, it is essential to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that all legal aspects of an injury are addressed.
How Can an Injury Progress?
Accidents that involve a person with a pre-existing ailment could lead to a condition becoming significantly worse. Neck, back, or head injuries, broken bones, or other types of conditions could become aggravated by a subsequent injury. For example, an individual who previously hurt his or her back in a slip and fall accident may sustain additional back injuries after being the victim of a rear-end collision.
Preparing for a Lawsuit
Personal injury claims can be complex, and in many cases, the defendant’s attorney and/or insurance company may try to discredit your claim. Before going into a trial, it is important to discuss every pre-existing and new injury with your attorney, even if you do not believe the injury was related to the accident. By advising your lawyer at the beginning of your case, he or she can prepare a better legal strategy. Disclosing medical records, speaking to previous doctors, and providing any paperwork related to a previous injury would provide credibility to the previous injury. To claim compensation, your personal injury attorney will need to prove that the new injury was not caused by an existing injury or that the new injury has caused your previous ailment to get worse.
The Eggshell Skull Rule
A defendant in a personal injury lawsuit involving a victim with a pre-existing ailment may claim he or she was not responsible for the injury because the plaintiff was more vulnerable to suffering harm. However, a legal doctrine known as the “eggshell skull rule” states that a defendant cannot use the plaintiff’s frailty or sensitivity to harm as a defense in a personal injury lawsuit. Regardless of whether the defendant or the plaintiff was aware of the pre-existing injury, the defendant may be held responsible for the damages that occurred because of her or her actions or negligence. For example, if the victim of a car crash sustained permanent damage to an already broken hand, the defendant would be liable for the injury, even if the crash would not have normally caused that much damage.
Contact a Green Bay, WI Personal Injury Lawyer
Suffering from a pre-existing ailment should not take away the right to compensation in a personal injury case. By working with an attorney, disclosing personal information, and proving that your injury was caused by someone else’s negligence, you can seek the compensation you deserve. At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., our experienced Appleton personal injury attorneys can help you determine your legal options and provide you with the representation you need. Contact our office at 920-739-7366 to schedule a free consultation.