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A Slip and Fall Accident Worsened an Existing Injury: Can You Get Compensation?

Apr 28th, 2021

It’s bad enough to be injured in a slip and fall accident, but if the fall aggravates an already-existing injury, the impact on your life can be much worse. It can mean heightened levels of pain, additional medical treatment, and longer recovery times. The question is, if the accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence, can you receive compensation for treating these existing injuries—or only for new injuries brought on by the fall itself? The answer is a little complex, but it boils down to being able to prove liability while demonstrating how the injury was worsened by the fall. Let’s dive into some of the details.

Pre-Existing Injuries and Aggravated Injuries 

According to the law, an at-fault defendant in an injury accident is only liable for the damages caused by the accident itself, not any problems that existed before the accident. So if you had an existing injury prior to your fall, the defendant technically is not legally responsible for that injury. However, if you can show that the existing injury was aggravated by the fall, the defendant is liable for that portion of your injury that was made worse.

It’s important to note that this is a general rule, and there are some exceptions. For example, if you can prove that the defendant knew about your pre-existing injury and still failed to exercise a duty of care to keep you safe (e.g., warning you about slick areas or removing obstructions, then you may be able to hold them liable for the aggravated damages. Additionally, if your pre-existing injury made you more susceptible to falling, that fact doesn’t make the at-fault party any less responsible for the damage you suffered in the fall (a legal doctrine commonly called the “eggshell skull rule).”

Documenting the Worsened Injury 

Proving that an existing injury was aggravated by a slip and fall accident can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Insurance companies like to use pre-existing injuries as a mitigating factor to reduce the amount of your settlement. The key to overcoming this issue is to gather as much evidence as possible to support your case. This might include medical records documenting the pre-existing injury, testimony from doctors or physical therapists about the additional damage caused by the fall, and witness statements testifying to the fact that your condition worsened after the accident.

The bottom line is that you have the right to seek compensation for an injury that was worsened by a slip-and-fall accident—but it will likely require the help of a seasoned personal injury attorney to ensure you get the full compensation you’re entitled to receive. Our legal team can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.