Recent Blog Post

Can You Sue For Aggravated Pre-existing Injuries Due to an Accident

WRITTEN BY:
Steven Matz
May 25, 2023 | Car Accident

A negligent driver can ruin your day in an instant. The aftermath of a Michigan car accident can not only turn your life upside down but can cause even more damage to an injury you already had. The insurance company will not make it easy for you to get compensation for the aggravation of a pre-existing medical condition.

The experienced Michigan personal injury attorneys at Matz Injury Law can help negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. Our Southfield law firm will also take action against the negligent driver and fight to get you the fair compensation you deserve. It all starts with a free consultation.

What is Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition in Michigan?

A pre-existing injury or pre-existing medical condition is one that you sustained prior to the accident. Car accidents often lead to injuries, but if the injury in question is in the same area that was already injured before the car accident, this would be an aggravation. For example, if you have back injuries you acquired from helping a friend move, and a car crash makes your back pain worse, you are aggravating a pre-existing medical condition.

Can I Sue for a Michigan Accident That Aggravated My Injury?

MRI of a brain

In Michigan, you can sue the at-fault party if you have severe injuries. However, the defense attorneys and insurance company on the other side may claim that you cannot recover damages due to aggravation of pre-existing injuries and that only new injuries should be considered in your personal injury claim.

This is not true.

Under Michigan personal injury law, if the accident worsens your pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Successfully collecting this compensation, however, can be tricky, so it is in your best interest to seek help from a Michigan personal injury lawyer who is well-versed in these types of car accident settlements and offers free case evaluations.

How Do You Prove Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition?

A major insurance company strategy is to “blame the victim” for being involved in an accident that worsens medical conditions the victim may already have had. In fact, some insurance companies and the lawyers they hire go so far as to suggest that if you had an underlying condition before the accident, you are trying to “take advantage of the system” if you claim your earlier problems are worsening due to the accident.

The law in Michigan allows your lawyer to protect you from this strategy. Here is a summary of the law to get you started.

If you have a pre-existing injury or medical problem, and you can prove through medical testimony (not to mention the testimony of friends, family, and co-workers who knew you before and after an accident) that the accident has made the condition worse, the law that will be read to the jury is that the person who caused the accident is responsible for any increase in your impairment that you can document.

In addition, if the jury can’t identify which of your problems existed before the accident from those you have now, the at-fault driver is responsible for all your pain and suffering.

We have seen thousands of cases where someone injured in an accident gets an MRI or CT scan that shows both long-term and recent injuries. Many of us have degeneration in our back or other joints and may not realize it until a severe impact noticeably affects our alignment. You may have been working every day, enjoying your family life and hobbies without serious limitations, even though you have early signs of joint degeneration. Now, a careless driver slams into you, and all that changes. It’s not just a coincidence that you went from functioning normally before the accident to being in physical therapy or seeing a surgeon about the possible need for an operation. If you are vulnerable to injury due to factors out of your control, and a negligent driver worsens these conditions, they must fix this problem.

So don’t let an insurance adjuster try to convince you that if you had physical problems before an accident, that’s just your tough luck. The law is on your side as long as you can prove that you are significantly worse off after an accident than before.

What is the Difference Between Aggravation and Exacerbation?

If an accident permanently makes a previous injury or health condition worse, it is said to be an aggravated injury. An exacerbated injury means the prior injury will return to its baseline condition after some time has passed. Whether your injury is aggravated or exacerbated could make a difference in the amount you receive from your car accident settlement.

If you are uncertain whether you have an exacerbated or aggravated pre-existing injury, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help with legal advice and developing a strategy for your Michigan auto accident claim, beginning with a free consultation.

Types of Pre-Existing Conditions That Can Be Aggravated in Car Accidents

Many types of aggravated pre-existing conditions show up in personal injury cases. The most common injuries that can be aggravated in a car crash include back injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and broken bones. If you suffer aggravation of these types of injuries, your Michigan car accident attorney can help you build a case by collecting your medical records and comparing your existing symptoms to your medical history.

Back Injuries

Back injuries can range from a broken back to a herniated disc, muscle injuries, injuries to nerves in your spinal cord, and even paralysis or death. Regardless of the source of the injury, aggravation of back injuries can create lifelong problems for accident victims, leading to decades of mounting medical bills.

Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)

a man holding his neck in pain

Traumatic brain injuries can be completely life-altering and even lead to premature death. These damages can be tricky to pursue in car accident cases because they are “invisible injuries.” TBIs can cause mood and personality changes, difficulty with focus, phantom pains in the extremities, and a world of symptoms that may not be immediately associated with head trauma. Diagnosis by a medical professional is crucial in these cases.

Broken Bones

If you have broken bones that are not quite healed, a serious Michigan car accident can cause the bones to re-break. Aggravation of a broken bone can also create sores that become infected, creating new complications with the existing break.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes low bone density, and this can contribute to excessive injuries in accidents. With low bone density, bones are more prone to fractures and breaks, so injuries from car accidents can be more severe.

Neck Injuries

The neck is one of the most sensitive areas of the body and one of the most vulnerable. If you have suffered a neck injury in the past, a car accident could cause the injury to return or create a newer, more severe injury.

Can a Michigan Motor Vehicle Accident Aggravate Degenerative Disc Disease?

Back injuries are common in Michigan car accidents, and degenerative disc disease can worsen these kinds of injuries. However, it is important to note that car accidents do not cause degenerative disc disease. If you are already suffering from it, an accident can aggravate this pre-existing condition. That is still enough to recover compensation in many cases, thanks to the eggshell skull rule, which states that an at-fault driver can be held responsible for worsening existing conditions.

The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention After an Accident

It is always essential to seek medical attention after an accident. Your safety is more important than anything else, but that is not the only reason to get medical help quickly. You must also establish a medical record that can be used as hard evidence in your case. Insurance companies will use your medical records against your claim if they can, so it is important to have records that corroborate your claim and your medical expert’s testimonial.

What Compensation Can I Recover For a Pre-Existing Condition in Michigan?

The kind of compensation you can recover for a pre-existing condition is almost identical to the kind of compensation you can recover from new injuries. If your pre-existing condition is aggravated or worsened by an accident, you can pursue compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more from the at-fault driver. A free case evaluation with a Michigan car accident lawyer can offer more detail about the compensation you can pursue based on your case’s unique circumstances.

The Eggshell Rule in Michigan

Michigan has a doctrine known as the eggshell skull rule. This rule is in place to protect plaintiffs. It comes into play when a defendant tries to claim that the plaintiff was abnormally frail due to their pre-existing injury, which is why they were injured. A defendant in Michigan cannot make such a claim. A plaintiff in such a case is known as an eggshell plaintiff.

Our Attorneys Can Help With Your Claim

At Matz Injury Law, our Michigan personal injury and car accident attorneys have decades of combined experience dealing with cases like yours. We have represented people from all over Michigan who have suffered at the hands of negligent, reckless, or deliberately malicious drivers, and we have won millions for our clients in settlements and verdicts.

We build trusting, long-lasting, and powerful attorney-client relationships and treat every client like a member of our own family. When you work with Matz Injury Law, your case will always be handled by a Matz. If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone else, do not face the insurance companies alone. Let us take on the fight for you. Call us at 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our online contact form for legal advice and a free consultation today.

Frequent Answered Questions

What qualifies as a pre-existing condition in a Michigan car accident case?

A pre-existing condition is any medical issue or injury that existed before the car accident. This includes previous injuries or any known medical conditions.

Can I still receive compensation if a car accident in Michigan aggravated my pre-existing condition?

Yes, under Michigan law, if a car accident worsens your pre-existing condition, you may be entitled to compensation for the aggravation.

How do I prove that a car accident aggravated my pre-existing condition?

Proof can be established through medical records, testimony from healthcare professionals, and observations from personal acquaintances, showing a noticeable worsening of the condition after the accident.

What is the eggshell skull rule in Michigan, and how does it affect my case?

The eggshell skull rule is a legal doctrine holding a defendant responsible for a plaintiff’s unforeseeable and unusual reactions to the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions. Under this rule, the defendant is liable for injuries exacerbated by the plaintiff’s unique characteristics, even if these reactions are unexpected.

Can Matz Injury Law assist with my car accident claim involving a pre-existing condition?

Yes, Matz Injury Law specializes in handling such cases and can provide legal assistance, from negotiating with insurance companies to representing you in court.

Are there specific challenges in claiming compensation for aggravation of pre-existing conditions?

Yes, insurance companies may argue that the current suffering is solely due to the pre-existing condition. Legal representation is crucial to counter these claims and establish the link between the accident and the aggravation.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.