When a victim suffers an injury in an accident caused by another party, Virginia law allows them to pursue for damages against that party. These damages include medical expenses for treatment for the injuries and lost wages if the victim is unable to work while they recover. But what happens if the victim had a preexisting condition that was reinjured in the accident? Is the at-fault party still liable for the new losses the victim suffered?

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our Virginia personal injury attorneys have successfully represented many clients who had a prior injury reinjured in an accident caused by another party. The following is a brief overview of how these cases work. For a more detailed explanation and to find out if our legal team can help you in your case, call our office today.


If a victim already had a health condition they were dealing with, an accident could cause that injury to become much worse. Conditions involving the back, head, neck, or fractured bones can become quite aggravated by an accident. For example, a victim who injured their back in a job accident could suffer additional injury to the same area in a rear-end crash caused by another driver.

As a Virginia accident attorney can attest, personal injury claims and lawsuits can be complex and when you add a pre-existing condition to the case can result in the at-fault party’s insurance company using that condition as a way to get out of paying the victim what they are entitled to. Instead of just having to prove the victim was injured in the accident, the attorney will have the added task of proving that the injury is either a new injury or that the accident caused the prior injury to become worse. This is why it is critical for a victim to let their attorney know of any prior injuries or conditions they have had in the past, even if that injury had nothing to do with the current incident or injury.

The Eggshell Skull Doctrine

There is a legal doctrine, referred to as the eggshell skull doctrine, which is supposed to prohibit an at-fault party from using a victim’s prior injury or condition as a defense. The eggshell skull doctrine literally means “taking the victim as you find them.” This means if a victim had a prior injury or medical condition prior to the accident, the at-fault party may still be liable for any losses the victim has suffered and that their medical history cannot be used against them.

Although this means that the victim’s prior injury cannot be used against them, it is not uncommon for the at-fault party’s insurance company to do just that.

Regardless of what the insurance company may try, a seasoned Virginia personal injury attorney can fight to ensure the victim gets the damages they deserve. Your attorney will ensure that all medical documentation that shows the new injury was caused by the accident and not because the condition already existed is presented in your case, as well as block any tactics the insurance company tries in their attempt to deny your claim.  

Let a Virginia Accident Attorney Advocate for You

Whether you were aware of and receiving treatment for your preexisting medical condition, or it was discovered after you were injured, your attorney 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. If you would like to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation with one of our Virginia personal injury attorneys, contact our office today.