If you are injured in an accident and another person is at fault, you may file a personal injury claim for your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. If your injury is a back or neck condition, the defendant’s insurance company may try to reduce the amount of your claim by arguing that your injury pre-existed the accident.
Pre-Existing Back Injuries Are Common
A person can have existing back and neck damage either from a prior accident or from the natural aging process. It is not uncommon for the injured party, particularly if he or she is older, to have existing arthritic changes in the spine or osteophytes which are not symptomatic. An accident could cause the existing back problem to become painful.
Fortunately, the law protects the injured party in this type of claim, because legally the negligent party is responsible for the aggravation of any pre-existing conditions.
Personal Injury Awards Are Not Affected
This legal protection is based on the idea that you take the victim as you find him or her. In other words, if you injure someone and the injury is enhanced by virtue of their pre-existing condition, you have no legal right to complain or reduce their damages. If one thinks about this rule, it is very fair — why should the negligent party benefit from a person’s pre-existing condition with a decreased damage award?
Legally, if you are negligent, you will pay the full amount of damages regardless of the condition the plaintiff is in when you injure them.