Aggravation Of Pre-Existing Condition

Aggravation Of Pre-Existing Condition

February 06, 2020

Sometimes we have clients come into the office who were injured many years ago. Back or head injuries from prior car crashes, falls, and sports injuries are not out of the ordinary. These clients are often surprised to hear that they can still sue for an aggravation of a prior injury if they were recently hurt in a new incident.

In North Dakota, a tortfeasor (defendant) takes his or her victim as he or she finds the victim. When a defendant’s negligence aggravated a pre-existing injury, the defendant must compensate the victim for the full extent of the aggravation but is not liable for the pre-existing condition itself. So, this means, if you can prove that your prior injury was worsened due to the defendant’s negligence, you can sue the defendant for the worsening of your condition.

Factual Question For The Jury

The degree of aggravation of a pre-existing condition is a factual question for a jury. North Dakota’s jury instruction says the following:

A Plaintiff’s pre-existing condition does not bar an award of damages. If a person is not in good health or in a good physical condition when injured by the fault of another and the injured person’s pre-existing condition is aggravated by the fault, damages may be awarded for the aggravation of the pre-existing condition. The defendant is responsible for the Defendant’s fault which aggravates the Plaintiff’s condition even if that fault would not have caused as extensive an injury to a healthy person.

If a Defendant’s fault aggravates a pre-existing condition, then the Defendant is responsible for the worsening effect caused by the aggravation, but not for the pre-existing condition. Any damages are limited to the additional injury or worsening of the condition.

The Defendant is not responsible for an aggravation that results from natural causes unrelated to the injury and the conduct of a third party unrelated to the Defendant’s fault.

Disclose Information To Your Attorney

One of the biggest killers of a case is not disclosing everything to your attorney. You may think that no one will find out about a prior injury or accident that happened many years ago, but it will get out eventually. Or, you feel it is not relevant because you had recovered from the prior injury. Either way, it is much easier for your attorney to deal with it upfront rather than fixing the damage after-the-fact. Even if you think that something might not be a big deal, you should always be safe and disclose it to your attorney.

Contact Us

If you have been injured and are looking to consult with an attorney, please contact us.