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Huntsville Car Accidents: Does a Pre-Existing Injury Prevent Me From Recovering?

picture of a distressed woman in a hospital bedIf you have been injured through no fault of your own, in a car wreck in Huntsville or in any part of Alabama, you are entitled to recover in full for all injuries and damages caused by the wrongful and negligent driving of the other driver. You are still entitled to compensation if a car accident aggravated a pre-existing condition. A pre-existing injury will NOT prevent you from recovering the full amount of compensation to which you are entitled under Alabama law. You will need to hire experienced and dedicated personal injury attorneys because any pre-existing injury does require careful handling during the legal process. Pre-existing injuries are common, however, particularly with respect to injury victims that are aging. During our lives, we all accumulate injuries that can be termed “pre-existing.” Aggravation of preexisting injury is not a bar recovery and do not necessarily reduce your monetary recovery when handled properly by your Huntsville, Alabama personal injury attorney.

Sometimes, victims of a serious car wreck feel like they should hide or downplay a pre-existing injury, but the opposite is true. Tell your lawyers about anything that might be a pre-existing injury so that your lawyer can deal with it properly and fully during the work-up of your settlement and case. While YOU might think it is pre-existing, maybe it is not from a legal or medical standpoint. Thorough review of the medical records and with the help of medical professionals, a pre-existing condition can be shown to be too far distant in time to be relevant or not really related to your current injury or can otherwise be minimized, legally and medically speaking.

The worse situation is when the pre-existing condition comes to light late in the process. Then it will seem like you were trying to hide something. That never goes well and can have a negative impact on your settlement and on your case.

Likewise, it is important to be upfront with your doctor. It never goes well if your doctor is asked at trial if he or she knew about something in your medical records. If your doctor says “no,” that looks bad to the jury. Even worse is when the opposing lawyers asks: “Did your patient tell you about this pre-existing condition?” and your doctor has to say “no.” That is really bad. There is no need to hide a pre-existing condition. A driver who wrongfully and negligently causes injury must take his or her plaintiff as they are.

Huntsville Car Accident Lawyers: Recovery for Aggravation of a Pre-Existing Injury

Essentially, the legal rule in Alabama is that you can recover for any injuries or damage to your body that is an aggravation of a pre-existing injury. As a simplistic example, if before the accident on Highway 72, your hand was 20% limited in use, but now after the accident, you cannot use your hand at all, then you deserve to be compensated for 80% of the use of your hand. It is never that simple, but that is the idea.

A good case law example is Brown v. Lawrence, 632 So. 2d 462 (Ala. Supreme Court 1994). In that case, the plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident. The plaintiff had undergone surgery for lower back problems five years before the accident. After the accident, the plaintiff began to suffer severe back pain. At trial, his doctor gave opinions based on his medical expertise that the accident had injured the back again and that the accident exacerbated his pre-existing back condition. The doctor testified that the plaintiff had now suffered a permanent impairment of his back and that he had a 20% impairment to his body as a whole. The jury returned a verdict for plaintiff awarding him $38,000 in “past compensatory damages” and $162,000 in “future compensatory damages.” The jury verdict was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court.

As can be seen, a pre-existing injury does not preclude recovering damages after a car wreck or car collision. Skilled car accident lawyers can retain medical experts to provide the needed testimony. See also Norfolk Southern Ry. v. Bradley, 772 So. 2d 1147 (Ala. Supreme Court 2000) (jury was properly instructed that it could compensate the plaintiff only for injuries resulting from the accident; not for injuries from a pre-existing injury/condition).

Contact Our Huntsville, Alabama Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers

If, you or someone you love injured or killed in an auto wreck in Huntsville, in Madison County or anywhere else in Alabama, contact an experienced Huntsville and Madison County personal injury and accident attorney like the ones at Hornsby, Watson, Hornsby & Heyward. You can email us or call (256) 414-9803, toll free (866) 986-1371.


Our personal injury attorneys in Huntsville, AL are proud of the accomplishments and results we have obtained over more than a century of combined experience. We remain committed to our roots as a client-focused personal injury law firm, however, and every client — beginning when they meet with us for the first time in a private, no-cost and no-obligation consultation.

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