Accident With a Prior Bodily Injury | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

One of the most common questions a North Carolina accident attorney hears from clients is what happens if the victim already had a preexisting condition when the crash occurred. Many victims are concerned they will no be able to pursue for damages against the at-fault party.

The good news is that having a prior bodily injury does not mean a victim cannot be compensated for reinjury or exasperating a current condition because North Carolina tort law recognizes the eggshell plaintiff doctrine.




The eggshell plaintiff doctrine means “taking the victim as you find him.” This means that even if the victim had a prior injury or condition prior to the accident and even if the accident would not have caused the same injury to a healthy person, the at-fault party is still liable for the losses the victim suffers because of the injury. A victim’s prior medical condition cannot be used against them by the at-fault party (or their insurance company) to deny the victim’s claim.

For example, let’s say John has suffered from back problems in the past for which he has sought medical treatment. One day, he is stopped at a red light when suddenly a vehicle slams into the back of his vehicle because the driver was speeding and could not stop in time for the light. The force of the impact aggravates John’s back issue and he is once again dealing with pain and medical treatments. Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, John’s NC injury attorney will still be able to file a car accident claim or lawsuit for these new medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other losses John suffers because of this injury.

Pursuing a Claim

There are many medical conditions that can cause a person to be more susceptible to injury in the event of an accident or they may be taking medications for a condition that can cause side effects that affect how susceptible they are.

It is critical to keep in mind, however, that just because the law allows victims with prior bodily injury to pursue for damages, that doesn’t mean the at-fault party’s insurance company won’t attempt to use that information to avoid paying the victim the compensation they deserve. This is why it is important to retain the services of a seasoned North Carolina accident attorney to advocate for you in these claims.

Your attorney will gather the evidence needed to show that the accident did reinjure or make a current injury or condition worse. Some of the ways this can be done is by using past and current medical records to verify what the pre-accident status of the condition was, what the victim’s ongoing relationship with their health care provider(s) is, using any radiological or other diagnostic tests to document any change in status and changes in the types and doses of any medications the victim is on.

Carolinas Accident Attorneys Fighting for Victims   

Whether you were aware of and receiving treatment for your pre-existing medical condition, or it was discovered after you were injured, a North Carolina accident attorney from Shapiro & Appleton will present the evidence needed to prove that the accident did indeed result in the worsening of your condition and how that has increased your medical expenses, financial losses, quality of life, and other losses you have suffered from this accident. Call our office today for a free and confidential case evaluation.