A common question for our firm is if pre-existing conditions can affect a personal injury case in Alabama. Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May 25(2):353-71. Given these numbers, it is more likely than not that a person who is injured in an accident will have some prior history of back pain.
People are often hesitant to seek legal representation after an accident if they believe that their pre-existing condition made them more susceptible to injury than the average person. However, under Alabama law a defendant is responsible for the consequences of his actions, regardless of the preexisting condition of the plaintiff. See, Britton v. Doehring, 286 Ala. 498, 506, 242 So.2d 666, 673 (1970). This rule, referred to as the “eggshell doctrine,” means that a defendant must take the plaintiff as he finds him and is fully responsible for any exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. Dempsey v. Phelps, 700 So.2d 1340, 1348 (Ala. 1997).
Simply put, it is imperative that you seek medical treatment if you are experiencing pain after an accident, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. Remember that the question is not whether the average person would have suffered an injury, but whether you were actually injured. If the accident aggravated your pre-existing condition, the defendant is responsible for compensating you for that harm. If you are facing a similar situation, it is best to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.
By Aaron N. Maples
Stone Crosby is an experienced general practice law firm with convenient locations in Daphne, Bay Minette, and Foley, Alabama. With over 100 years of history in Alabama’s legal community, our firm is ready to take on your case.