You have just been injured in an automobile accident, or perhaps a in a slip and fall on ice. Before suffering the injuries in this accident, you had sustained a similar injury or injuries at some time in the past. Maybe your prior injuries were no longer bothering you, or prior to this accident you were still suffering from certain symptoms associated with your prior injury or some other pre-existing underlying condition. Does the fact you had a prior injury or a pre-existing condition prevent you from pursuing a claim for any new injuries you sustained in this most recent accident? The short answer is no. Despite the fact you may have had a prior injury or you suffer from a pre-existing condition, you can still pursue a claim for injuries and damages, depending upon the specific facts regarding your individual situation.
The law in Connecticut is clear, a defendant is only responsible for compensating a plaintiff for any injuries or damages that were the result of the accident for which the defendant is at fault. If a plaintiff was already suffering from some type of prior condition or disability the defendant in the new accident cannot be held responsible for those prior injuries or conditions. However, if the trauma sustained in the new accident aggravates or exacerbates in any way the prior injuries or conditions, the defendant in the new accident is responsible for any aggravation or exacerbation suffered by the plaintiff. If your pre-existing injury or underlying condition is made worse in any way, as a result of the trauma sustained in the second accident, the defendant will be responsible for compensating you for that change in your condition. For example, you may have been suffering from an ongoing pre-existing condition regarding your knee or your back. Prior to the accident your condition never reached the point where you required surgical intervention. Now after the new accident your doctor has determined that the trauma sustained in the most recent accident was not the primary or sole cause for the change in your underlying condition which has now resulted in the need for some type of surgical intervention. However, your doctor believes that the trauma sustained in the most recent accident was at the very least a substantial factor, among a number of other factors, which has now caused your symptoms to change and resulted in your need to undergo a surgical procedure. In such a situation the defendant in the recent accident will be responsible for that surgical care and treatment and any additional symptoms and or impairment rating you may suffer from following the new accident. Any injuries or symptoms you are suffering from prior to the most recent accident will serve as the baseline or benchmark from which to compare your symptoms and overall condition following the most recent accident. To the extent your symptoms have increased and the trauma was a substantial factor in producing the need for additional care and treatment the defendant will be held responsible.
It is also important to note that many of us suffer from what are considered pre-existing underlying conditions which are asymptomatic. For example it might be revealed on an x-ray that we are suffering from degenerative arthritic changes in our spine. However, despite the fact there is evidence of pre-existing underlying degenerative disease we do not suffer any symptoms as a result of that degenerative condition. In other words the condition is asymptomatic. The law in Connecticut provides that if the trauma sustained in an accident causes a pre-existing asymptomatic underlying condition to become symptomatic, then the defendant will be held responsible for the change in the condition and for any care and treatment resulting from that change as well as any new or increased impairment or permanency ratings.