Avoiding Legal Trouble

Suing Someone For A Personal Injury When You've Been Previously Hurt

Can you sue someone for a personal injury if you've already had a previous injury to that part of your body? The simple answer: yes, you can sue. Your attorney will have to deal with some special issues as your case proceeds, but having a preexisting injury does not prevent you from seeking damages due to a new personal injury.

What Issues Will My Attorney Need To Address?

Essentially, what will happen is that the defendant's attorney will try to use your previous injury or disability to his or her advantage during the case. Your attorney, in turn, will try to either mitigate the facts, or turn them to your advantage.

Are You The Thin Skull Plaintiff Or The Crumbling Skull Plaintiff?

Whether or not your previous injury or disability is harmful to your case or not depends a lot on whether you are a Thin Skull Plaintiff or a Crumbling Skull Plaintiff.

The law says that a fragile victim is still entitled to recover for his or her full injuries. The victim may end up in worse shape than a normal person would, due to his or her preexisting condition, but that's no reason that a victim can't successfully sue for his or her new injuries.

For example, imagine that you suffered a neck injury some time ago and had surgery to repair it. Because of your previous injury, you are especially susceptible to re-injury. When you get rear-ended in a fender bender, your condition is much worse than might be expected if you hadn't already had a previous injury.

Your attorney will argue that you are simply a Thin Skull Plaintiff. Essentially, it's just the other driver's bad luck to have hit your car, instead of the car driven by a normally healthy person. Further, your attorney will argue that your damages should be more than what might be paid to a normally healthy person under similar conditions, because your preexisting conditions left you with worse injuries and suffering.

The defense attorney, however, is likely to allege that you're a Crumbling Skull Plaintiff, in order to limit the amount of damages his or her client has to pay. Basically, the defense will say that your injuries were inevitable and you would have suffered the same (or nearly same) physical problems eventually, even if you'd never been in another accident.

In other words, your old injuries weren't really stable and you were going to end up with the same pain, or debilitating problems, eventually anyhow. The accident just caused the problems to accelerate. 

Every Case Is Different

Until you talk with a personal injury attorney you have no way of knowing how difficult it might or might not be to recover for your injuries due to a preexisting condition or old injury in the same part of your body. Make sure that you discuss your concerns with the attorney right away, so that the attorney is aware of the potential problems with your case.