reinjured-neckWhat if you had a previous neck injury that caused you permanent problems and it was re-injured in a second car accident? The law in Illinois is clear than an aggravation of a pre-existing condition shall be treated like a new injury.
We see this situation arise in various ways. In some instances, someone can have had an injury in the distant past, like a neck fusion for instance, and as a result of a new accident, the person needs a second neck fusion.   There are ways we may be able to exclude any mention of the first neck fusion at trial, although it might be left up to the Judge’s discretion whether to allow such evidence.  Even if the Judge let in evidence of the prior injury, we would still be able to prove the new injury and surgery through the testimony of the treating doctor, and the jury would be instructed to treat it as a new injury.
This scenario also comes up in accidents rear end accidents where the impact on the rear of the injured person’s vehicle is relatively minor.   If we can prove that the new injury would not have occurred absent the previous injury, and was caused by the new accident, we can still prove that the new accident caused those severe injuries.
For instance, assume a woman is struck from behind by a vehicle at low speed. Assume she had neck surgery years before that left her with a permanently compromised neck.   Even if the new impact is minor, if that impact caused an injury, we can properly claim that the injury and any treatment rendered for it was legally caused by the new accident.   The net effect would be to hold the at fault driver responsible for the new injury and treatment.
This same analogy will apply with virtually any pre-existing condition. If a man through his genetic makeup is more susceptible to injury, it wouldn’t matter whether someone without that condition would have been injured in the accident.  The saying in law is that the at fault person must take the plaintiff (the injured person) as they find him.   If he has an eggshell for a skull, and you gently tap his skull but it breaks, you are responsible for any and all injuries caused, whether someone with a normal skull would have been hurt or not.
At MacCloskey Kesler & Associates, we have represented thousands of clients, many of whom have had pre-existing conditions that made a new injury happen or become more severe. We know how to deal with the arguments raised by the insurance defense lawyers in these cases, and have been very successful winning compensation for those kinds of injuries.  So if you’ve been severely injured, call us for a free consultation at 815.965.2000.