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Just because you hurt it before doesn’t mean it’s your fault

Way too often I hear from a client that his former lawyer told him: “your case is worth less money because you hurt your back before this accident happened!” I am also constantly hearing defense lawyers or insurance adjusters tell me or other lawyers in our firm that cases have less value because of preexisting medical conditions. The law in New York is clear, paraphrasing from the New York Pattern Jury Instructions: to the extent that an injury is aggravated, defendants are responsible to the extent that your preexisting condition is made worse. Bottom line: if someone is liable, they do not get a discount just because you had a preexisting injury.

Some of the best results our firm has obtained over the years have been for people who aggravated preexisting conditions as a result of a defendant’s negligence. My very first multi-million dollar jury verdict was on behalf of a man who injured his back in a car accident. He had been in another car accident years before that and also injured his back. He clearly aggravated his back injury in the second accident however the defense attorney and the insurance company who were responsible for evaluating the case did not offer a fair settlement based on the defense that my client had a prior injury. The JURY THOUGHT DIFFERENTLY!

We also had a client who injured his back on a construction site. He received a six figure settlement as a result of this accident. He rehabilitated himself and through hard work with his doctors he got himself back to work. While on a construction site he was injured again. He received a multi million dollar settlement because he aggravated his preexisting injury in that second accident.

In my view, when people were hurt before, their cases are often worth more money because the prior injury or condition makes them more susceptible to a more significant injury the second time around.

For a free consultation on all personal injury matters, call Hach & Rose, LLP, at (212) 779-0057 or 212-779-0057.

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