Many people have injuries or other medical conditions that they live with
every day, and are still able to lead successful and productive lives.
Then they are injured through someone else’s negligence or intentional
act, and these preexisting conditions are made much worse. This aggravation
can cause people to lose time from work and substantially increase the
pain they are suffering. If you are one of the many people who have had
a preexisting condition aggravated through the fault of another you can
still recover for your damages in Virginia. “It is axiomatic that
a defendant who causes injuries to a plaintiff with a preexisting condition
must take the plaintiff as he finds him. Although not responsible for
the preexisting condition itself, he is liable for any exacerbation of
it caused by his tortious conduct.”
Bradner v. Mitchell, 234 Va. 483, 489 (1987). This is sometimes referred to as the “eggshell
plaintiff” rule. This rule essentially stands for the proposition
that even if a person is as fragile as an eggshell, if someone hurts them
through their wrongful act they should pay.
Proving aggravation on the other hand, can sometimes be difficult. Defense
attorneys will try to focus the jury’s attention on the fact that
there was a preexisting injury, while the plaintiff’s attorney will
try to focus the jury’s attention on what the plaintiff (injured
party) was like both before and after the accident. This can be done in
a myriad of ways. This can be done by having the plaintiff’s primary
care physician, as well as her friends and family, testify as to the differences
in the plaintiff’s physical and emotional state before and after
the injury. Another powerful tool the plaintiff’s attorney can use
is showing how the injury affected her work life. If the plaintiff was
hardworking and reliable prior to the accident, and loses time away from
work or cannot work at all, it is doubtful that this kind of person would
miss work just to make their lawsuit look better.
If you have a preexisting injury aggravated by someone else’s wrongful
act, such as an automobile accident, a slip and fall, etc., contact a
competent and experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
Always remember that Virginia has a two year statute of limitation for
personal injury actions. Va. Code Ann. §8.01-243(A). This means that
you generally have two years from the date of your accident to file your
lawsuit, so don’t delay.