Car accidents do more than cause injuries. Sometimes, they may aggravate pre-existing conditions, further exacerbating a victim’s pain and suffering. What’s even more concerning is insurance companies’ tendency to deny such claims, thus the need to take them to court.
On the bright side, U.S. law provides provisions for injured workers and accident victims to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and other types of benefits and compensations.
Read on as we explore what aggravation of pre-existing conditions entails, the types of injuries covered and excluded, and the type of evidence you may need to prove it.
What Does Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Condition Mean?
Most people find it difficult to differentiate between exacerbation and aggravation. While the former describes a situation in which a pre-existing condition is made temporarily worse by a new injury, aggravation is the permanent worsening of a pre-existing injury or condition after an accident.
When aggravation occurs as a result of another party’s negligence or willful harm, it can form grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. States like Texas, Florida, California, and others that follow cooperative negligence law provide provisions for compensating the plaintiff for the degree to which their pre-existing condition was aggravated.
On the downside, pursuing an aggravation claim can prove rather daunting, especially if your case is heard before a jury. Oftentimes, the jury finds it difficult to understand how a pre-existing condition was made worse by the injuries sustained.
Therefore, your attorney must be able to gather and present sufficient evidence proving that you had the condition before the accident and that it was made worse. You may also need to put your doctor or other medical professional on the stand to testify about any supporting medical records.
Types of Injuries Covered and Excluded in an Aggravation Claim
Most states’ compensation laws specifically exclude categories of injury from coverage, particularly injuries sustained outside of work, any intentionally self-inflicted injuries, and any injury that occurred when the victim was intoxicated.
Other categories of excluded injuries include any injury sustained in pursuit of criminal activity and injuries sustained in a physical fight the victim started. Victims pursuing work-related aggravated claims are also not covered for any injuries sustained when they were off-duty or performing voluntary activities, even if these happened at work.
On the other hand, the law provides provisions for compensation on any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions that predate an accident. However, there is a condition: the injuries must not be related to any workplace activity for victims seeking workers’ compensation.
The personal injuries covered can include everything from obvious pre-existing conditions like torn ligaments, herniated disks, neck injuries, and much more. They may also include general health or medical conditions like age-related spine degradation, traumatic stress disorder, caret tunnel, depression, or arthritis.
Types of Evidence Needed in an Aggravated Injury Claim
Aggravated injury claims are not particularly straightforward. Proving them involves several complexities requiring different types of evidence. In most cases, the evidence provided is meant to help the jury understand that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff directly aggravated an existing condition.
Some of the most common types of evidence presented in an aggravated injury claim include:
Prior and Post-Injury Medical Records
Medical records are some of the strongest types of evidence presented in an aggravated injury claim. They typically include medical records showing the type of treatment the victim was receiving before the accident.
To make your case even stronger, you may present both prior and post-medical records, such as MRIs, showing the severity of injury before and after the accident. In some cases, you may not have medical records to back your claims, such as when you haven’t seen the doctor in years and suddenly have to undergo intensive treatment for a pre-existing condition after an accident. Your attorney may use that as grounds to indicate that the level of pain has increased as a result of the accident.
Eyewitness reports can play a crucial role in an aggravated injury claim. This especially comes in handy when the eyewitness has nothing to gain from their testimony and the specific outcome of the case.
Most eyewitness reports are geared towards explaining how a victim’s injuries were made worse by the accident. As such, most witnesses are close family members of the victim or coworkers who have known the victim for a long time.
Other types of relevant witnesses are anybody who is hired to assist the victim after an accident. Such witnesses can help describe the victim’s condition before the accident and any significant changes in the victim’s activity level or demeanor after the accident.
Employment records can help prove a change in a victim’s conditions, regardless of whether they’re seeking workers’ compensation or regular compensation for a personal injury claim.
A good example of how employment records can be used as evidence is when they show that a victim performed well at work and rarely missed a day but can suddenly no longer work after the accident. In such cases, they show a direct relationship between the accident and the victim’s claims for aggravated injuries.
Employment records can also be used as evidence if the victim was transferred from a physical position to a sedentary position after the accident. This proves a direct relationship between the injuries sustained and the victim’s inability to perform their previous duties effectively.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make an Aggravated Personal Injury Claim
Aggravated personal injury claims are some of the hardest cases to prove. The sheer number of complexities involved is enough to deter most people from seeking compensation. On the bright side, most state laws have provisions for compensation for aggravated injuries and dictate the types of injuries covered.
When seeking an aggravated personal injury claim, you should have the necessary evidence in place to prove how your physical condition became significantly worse after an accident. It would also help if you consult an experienced attorney to guide you through the case.