So you were injured before a car crash in Colorado and now, your injury is worse or medical needs are greater than they were before. Many folks in this circumstance incorrectly assume they have no viable injury claim arising from the car crash caused by someone else’s negligence. Here, we explain why that assumption is incorrect.
While it’s true that an injured plaintiff cannot recover for damages (medical bills, pain and suffering, etc.) not caused by the crash, she can recover for the damages she suffered as a result of the crash: even if she had some underlying condition or injury which predisposed her to suffer a worse injury or more damages than a typical healthy person would have likely suffered in the same crash.
There are Colorado Civil Jury Instructions offering legal guidance for these very issues that would be given to a jury in our state hearing a case involving facts similar to these:
6:7 PERSONAL INJURIES — NON-REDUCTION OF DAMAGES — “THIN SKULL” DOCTRINE
In determining the amount of plaintiff’s actual damages, you cannot reduce the amount of or refuse to award any such damages because of any (insert appropriate description, e.g., physical frailties, mental condition, illness, etc.) of the plaintiff that may have made (him) (her) more susceptible to injury, disability, or impairment than an average or normal person.
6:8 AGGRAVATION OF PREEXISTING CONDITION
For the plaintiff, (name), to recover damages for the aggravation of a preexisting condition, you must find all of the following have been proved:
1. Before (insert date), the plaintiff suffered from (insert appropriate description of ailment or disability);
2. On (insert date), the defendant, (name), was (insert appropriate description, e.g., “negligent”); and
3. The defendant’s (insert appropriate description, e.g. “negligence”) made the plaintiff’s (insert appropriate description of ailment or disability) worse.
If you find that all of these (number) statements have been proved by a preponderance of the evidence, it is your duty to determine, if possible, the amount of damages, if any, caused only by the (insert appropriate description, e.g., “negligence”) of the defendant.
If you are able to separate the amount of damages, if any, caused by the (insert appropriate description, e.g., “negligence”) of the defendant from the amount of damages, if any, caused by the ailment or disability which existed before (insert date), then the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages caused only by the (insert appropriate description, e.g., “negligence”) of the defendant.
If you are unable to separate the damages caused by the ailment or disability which existed before (date) and the damages caused by the (insert appropriate description, e.g., “negligence”) of the defendant, then the defendant is legally responsible for the entire amount of damages.
Real life scenarios often involve someone with a degenerative condition who had some type of symptoms or medical treatment prior to a crash, but the symptoms were exacerbated and the need for treatment was greater after a crash. In those circumstances, we rely on medical professionals to help us determine what percentage of a person’s injuries, symptoms, and treatment was pre-existing and what percentage was a result of a crash. This concept is referred to as apportionment.
Many insurance adjusters argue that the presence of pre-existing conditions reduce the value of an injury claim and they will stand firm on this position unless and until legal proceedings are initiated (and sometimes even through the end of a jury trial)! If you were hurt in a car crash because of the negligence of someone else and you had some underlying condition which made your damages worse, do not allow yourself to be victimized a second time by the negligent driver’s insurance company: the first step in getting proper compensation for your claim is scheduling your free consultation with the Colorado Springs Injury Attorneys at Rosenbaum & Wootton, P.C. Call us today at 719.634.0102 or click on this link to schedule your FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.